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The Belmont Stakes is the oldest of the Triple Crown races, and at 1 1/2 miles on the dirt, is a dinosaur with so few main track events carded at twelve furlongs these days. With the short five week span for three grueling races under scale weight of 126 pounds over three very different tracks and three different distances, it takes a very special horse sweep the series. So much so that only 13 horses have completed the task, including Justify 3 years ago. Last year was an aberration with the Belmont being run first of the three races due to covid restrictions and the distance being shortened to only 1 1/8 miles, but this year it is back to its normal distance and date.
Thanks to injuries, poor performance in preps, or just plain lack of ability at the distance, the Belmont often gets a short field of horses, even if the race is wide open with no Triple Crown on the line and no obvious standout. While traffic trouble, a major issue in the Kentucky Derby, shouldn't be as much of an issue here, once again 3-year-olds are being asked to do something they've never done and conditioning will be key. In addition Belmont Park's "Big Sandy" 1 1/2 mile oval will be unfamiliar to most horses so we favor those which have had a sharp past race over it. Note that although the Belmont oval is much larger than those at Churchill and Pimlico, given the placement of the winning post it has a shorter home stretch at just 1,097 feet. Major factors which separate the likely winners of the Belmont are weighed out in this analysis, as we did for the Derby and Preakness fields.
Like the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, we have compiled some of the more profitable angles used to select a Belmont Stakes winner in recent years, and applied them to the possible entrants. Some novice horseplayers mistakenly believe a long race immediately favors closers when in fact the Belmont favors stalkers, so we prefer horses labeled "E/P" or "P" in BRIS past performances (by comparison "E" types are confirmed front-runners while "S" are deep closers). As well, the 4.00 Dosage Index angle is stronger in the Belmont than in the Derby where it's mostly used; here, we set the upper limit on Dosage at 3.00 and Center of Distribution at 0.75 to account for the longer distance. However as we noted at the Derby, the list of "Chefs" is no longer being updated annually so this approach to handicapping Triple Crown races will gradually lose relevance as the final group of sires drop back in the pedigree charts.
The Belmont favors horses who have zero points in the Solid and Professional wings of their dosage profiles, which is counterintuitive as you'd expect to see indicators of stamina for the demanding 12 furlong trip, but "double zero" horses get an extra point. As we have for the Preakness, horses that are tied in points will be listed in morning line odds order. It is worth noting that no horse scored the maximum possible point total; each has his share of knocks, as is explained below. You can view the past performances of these horses free here from BRISnet (look for Overtook or Known Agenda).
Where there is a tie in points we will list the horses in morning line odds order.
Hot Rod Charlie tops this year's analysis but as explained above, no horse scored on all angles. He qualifies on all the dosage angles and is a confirmed presser. He finished third in the Derby earning him a sharp prep and equalling his career best BRIS figure of 100, which is the par value (but not a "double top"). Before the Derby he won the Louisiana Derby giving him the required stakes win this year. However, he has never raced at Belmont, he is coming off a 5 week layoff having skipped the Preakness or any other prep, and he started 5 times as a juvenile (the limit is 3). Regular rider Flavien Prat (who rode Rombauer to victory in the Preakness) retains the mount for trainer Doug O'Neill, drawing post 4 aboard the 3-1 second choice.
Known Agenda comes to the Belmont off a disappointing 9th place finish in the Kentucky Derby, clearly not a sharp prep, 5 weeks out, and not a career best figure. He also failed in dosage profile having numbers in both Solid and Professional wings. He did qualify on Dosage Index, Center of Distribution, running style (presser), has a stakes win this year, the Florida Derby, with a 101 BRIS figure which meets par. In addition, he is only 1 of 2 in the field with a sharp race at Belmont Park, with a second place finish in his debut last September. Regular rider Irad Ortiz Jr. retains the mount for trainer Todd Pletcher, drawing post 6 aboard the 6-1 fifth choice.
Essential Quality, who was the beaten favorite in the Kentucky Derby, is favored again here but is not a lock based on this analysis. Despite finishing 4th in Louisville he was only beaten 1 length which qualifies as a sharp prep. He qualifies on runstyle as a stalker (E/P 4 according to BRIS), has 2 stakes wins this year, and ran a 102 figure when winning the Blue Grass. However he is coming off a 5 week layoff, did not run a career best figure last out, has only 3 starts this year, and has a dosage point in the Solid wing. Regular jockey Luis Saez will be aboard the 2-1 favorite for trainer Brad Cox from post 2.
Rombauer skipped the Derby off his 3rd place finish in the Blue Grass to upset the Preakness at almost 12-1 odds. This was a sharp prep and stakes win 3 weeks out with a new career best figure of 103, and he qualifies on all three Dosage requirements. On the negative side he is a closer (S 3 according to BRIS), has never raced at Belmont, is lightly raced this year with just 3 starts, and was over-raced with 4 starts as a juvenile. New jockey John Velazquez picks up the mount aboard the 3-1 second choice, drawing post 3 for trainer Mike McCarthy.
Bourbonic finished well back in 13th place in the Derby, clearly not a sharp prep, 5 weeks out, and also was not a career best speed figure. In addition his only start at Belmont was a distant 6th in his debut last October. His best speed figure was a 94, well below par, but he earned it when winning the Wood, giving him the required stakes win at 3,. He has enough starts this year and last, qualifies on all Dosage factors, and is labeled a presser (P 0) by BRIS, although his Wood win was a deep closing run. Regular rider Kendrick Carmouche will be in the irons from the inside post 1 for trainer Todd Pletcher aboard the 15-1 longshot.
Rock Your World was undefeated going to the Derby but finished a well beaten 17th, clearly not a sharp prep, 5 weeks out, and by far his worst speed figure at just 75. He also has a dosage point in the Solid wing, has never raced at Belmont, and did not race as a juvenile. On the positive side he did run a 102 when winning the Santa Anita Derby, is a confirmed stalker (E/P 5 according to BRIS), and has enough starts this year. Joel Rosario, who rode him at Churchill, retains the ride for trainer John Sadler out of post 7 as the 9-2 fourth choice.
Overtook is the only "new shooter" this year, and gets a knock for not having competed in either of the first 2 races. He comes here off a 3rd place finish in the Peter Pan, conveniently a sharp prep 4 weeks out and a sharp race over the Belmont track. His dosage index (3.29) and center of distribution (0.77) do not meet par but he does have the double zero right wings, had enough starts last year, and his last start was a career best figure. However that was only a 95 BRIS, 5 points off par, he only has 2 starts this year, he lacks a stakes win, and he is a confirmed closer (BRIS labels him an S 0 -- sustained runstyle, no early speed). Manny Franco, who rode him 2 starts back, gets aboard again for trainer Todd Pletcher aboard the 20-1 longshot from the outside post 8.
France Go de Ina scored the fewest points in the analysis, much like he did 3 weeks ago at the Preakness. His Dosage Index is a whopping 7.00 and center of distribution 0.88, both worst in the field, but he does have the double zeroes. After finishing 6th in the UAE Derby (earning him about a 93 BRIS) he shipped to Pimlico and finished a distant seventh, clearly not a sharp prep and earning a very slow 84 figure, also not a career best. He has not won a stakes race lifetime, only has 2 starts this year, and has never been to Belmont Park. BRIS did not officially assign him a runstyle, but based on his Preakness we consider him a presser as he sat about 2 lengths off the pace before tiring. New jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. picks up the mount for trainer Hideyuki Mori, and the 30-1 longest shot will break from post 5.
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