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Belmont Stakes Breakdown
Editor's Note: Don't miss out on Belmont Stakes selections from Anthony Stabile on VegasInsider.com. The "Big A" otherwise known as the "Beast of Belmont" has picked the Belmont winner five of the last eight years and three of the last four. Don't miss out again this June at the Belmont Stakes 150. Click to win!

The third leg of the "Triple Crown" is set and the field is ready for the 150th running of the Belmont Stakes!


2018 Breakdown
PP - Horse ML Odds Jockey (Belmont Record) Trainer (Belmont Record)
1 - Justify 4/5 Mike Smith (2-19) Bob Baffert (2-10)
Notes: His toughest rival in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, Good Magic, is sitting this one out. He looks like the controlling speed in a race that lacks serious pace. His trainer, along with American Pharoah, ended the 37-year Triple Crown drought just three years ago. All things to like/love about him. But this will be his sixth start in just 111 days and that’s his entire career. He’s being asked to do something no horse has ever been asked to do. It seems like Baffert wanted a target for Justify to run at but from the rail draw he’ll likely have to do all of the heavy lifting on the front end. I think he took a step backwards from the Derby to the Preakness because it’s all getting to be a bit too much for him. When he hits the quarter-pole on Saturday, he’ll have little foundation to fall back on. He’ll have just 16 weeks of racing experience. If he manages to pull this off, he’s an all-time great. I just can’t see it happening, especially after the draw.
2 – Free Drop Billy 30/1 Robby Albarado (0-6) Dale Romans (0-9)
Notes: After the draw for posts for The Belmont at Citi Field Tuesday night, media and horsemen/women were invited to stick around to watch some of the Mets/Orioles game. Out in left field, trainer Dale Romans performed the Heimlich maneuver on a woman choking on a hot dog and quite possibly saved her life. Maybe THAT is the reason this horse is running in here because Romans would have been nowhere near Flushing this week without this horse in the field. I hope the karma police give him a piece of this but I think they have their work cut out for them, though his daddy Union Rags did win this in 2012. I’m passing.
3 - Bravazo 8/1 Luis Saez (0-2) D. Wayne Lukas (4-24)
Notes: He came awfully close to handing Justify his first defeat when he ran at him late to miss by just a half-length in the Preakness after running spottily the final half-mile. I wonder what would have happened had this guy gotten a better hold of that surface. If you read my Preakness analysis, I told you I thought Lukas was getting him ready for this by running him there. Maybe I was a race off. I wonder if he fired his best shot last out. If he did, he’s in trouble. If he didn’t and he runs to his pedigree and is allowed to relax and make his one run he can get a minor award in here though I think winning is a bit of a stretch.
4 - Hofburg 9/2 Irad Ortiz, Jr. (1-4) Bill Mott (1-6)
Notes: I’ve been around this sport my entire life and have seen it change tremendously over the past few decades. There are a number of handicapping tools and far more information at the disposal of the bettors and fans that weren’t around 30 years ago. As the oldest 41-year-old out there, the one thing that hasn’t changed and the one thing I will ALWAYS rely on first, is the eye test. And this horse passes the eye test. He looks and moves like a racehorse should. And while I’m not going to compare what he’s done to what Justify has, he’s been pretty impressive himself. Horses don’t win from post 11 around two turns at Gulfstream in their second career try and first in six months like he did. They don’t make up a dozen lengths in a half-mile in the Florida Derby like he did. And they don’t keep coming after getting stopped and bumped and shut off a handful of times in a sea of slop at Churchill like he did in the Derby. Go watch the replay and try to find the NBC version. Take a look at all of the times he could have called it a day but instead kept on coming. Then watch him gallop out past the winner like he is standing still. The fact that Mott has run him in his last two speaks volumes. His sire, Tapit, has sired three of the last four winners of the Test of the Champion. I haven’t liked a horse this much since Tonalist in 2014. I think I like this horse even more.
5 – Restoring Hope 30/1 Florent Geroux (2-6) Bob Baffert (2-10)
Notes: Like Hofburg, he’s eligible for an entry level allowance contest but Baffert has been high on his ability for a while. He didn’t seem to like the sloppy track at Churchill on Derby Day when he was abysmal in the Pat Day Mile but has run well in his other four starts. I’m fairly certain the original plan was for him to be the unofficial rabbit, and maybe it still is, but it’ll be harder to pull off now because of the draw. He’s never really done anything for me. Will likely be a part of the early doings, in some capacity, but I don’t see him anywhere near the action in the stretch.
6 – Gronkowski 12/1 Jose Ortiz (1-3) Chad Brown (0-2)
Notes: I’m so happy he’s in here to take some casual, dead money from every New England Patriots fan that loves the human “Gronk” who actually owns a piece of this horse now. He won a spot in the Derby starting gate but passed on the opportunity and was transferred to his new trainer. He’s undefeated since adding blinkers and switching from turf to synthetic tracks but he’s never run on dirt, never run past a mile and is making his stateside debut in his first start in two months. The Belmont Stakes seems like the wrong place to try all of these things for the first time, doesn’t it? I’m against him but I do think Tom Brady is the GOAT.
7 - Tenfold 12/1 Ricardo Santana, Jr. (Debut) Steve Asmussen (1-5)
Notes: He gave those who thought he was the live longshot in the Preakness (hand raised) a thrill when it looked like he was going to upset the applecart for a brief moment and put in an amazing performance in just his fourth start. The reason I liked him in the Preakness was because he has a fantastic pedigree for an off track and it rained in Baltimore for a week. He was the one who moved up the most on that sloppy mess. He should handle the distance and could grab a minor award but I was far more bullish on him last time around. He certainly moves up if the track comes up wet.
8 – Vino Rosso 8/1 John Velazquez (2-21) Todd Pletcher (3-24)
Notes: It was reported that Pletcher had to flush his eyes for hours, even into Sunday morning, from all of the slop he encountered in the Derby, yet he still kept moving forward even if it was slight movement. The flashier moves in the stretch by Hofburg and My Boy Jack seem to have overshadowed his sneaky-good effort. Johnny V has told me a couple of times that he’ll run all day long and Pletcher has seen his most success in the Triple Crown at Belmont Park. His biggest knock is that he might be pace dependent and if no one chases Justify he could be up against it. Lots to like about him and he could be the one that offers the value on the tote board.
9 – Noble Indy 30/1 Javier Castellano (0-11) Todd Pletcher (3-24)
Notes: The blinkers come off, Castellano goes on and you can throw out his Derby. Initially I felt like he was in here to provide some pace for Justify as well but now he may actually be in the most advantageous spot of the three who should lead the field down the backstretch. Another whose pedigree I like for the 12 panels, I’m getting a 2014 Belmont Stakes runner-up Commissioner vibe off of him. He may fall a part like a cheap suit on the turn but it’s not like you’re going to find out at 3-1; you’ll find out at 30-1. He’s my live longshot in here.
10– Blended Citizen 15/1 Kyle Frey (Debut) Doug O’Neill (Debut)
Notes: He’ll look to follow in the hoofprints of 2014 Belmont Stakes winner Tonalist by using a win in the Peter Pan to upset a Triple Crown bid here. He’s won two of his three starts since getting blinkers but really had no excuse when he took on the big boys in the Blue Grass two back despite what the trip-note in his PPs say. He does make up ground at the end of all of his races and has been stabled at Belmont for over a month so he is familiar with his surroundings. I’ve always questioned his class, and still do. A bit of a puzzler but ultimately, I’m against him.




Anthony “the Big A” Stabile can be heard regularly on the Horse Racing Radio Network from 3-6:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday and 3-7:00 p.m. ET on Thursday and Friday. Tune in on Sirius 219, XM 201 or streaming live at horseracingradio.net. He also is a contributor on NYRA-TV as a guest on Talking Horses. Follow him on Twitter at @TheBigAStabile

  
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