The third leg of Horse Racing’s Triple Crown is set to go off on Saturday evening in Elmont, NY home of Belmont Park and the 154th running of the Belmont Stakes. As far as the first two legs are concerned, Rich Strike became the longest odds to ever win the Kentucky Derby in early May, choosing to sit out the Preakness in preparation for this race.
A few weeks later, Early Voting was crowned winner of the Preakness Stakes in Baltimore, as he too now is sitting out this race in preparation for another. Just because Early Voting isn’t here, there’s plenty of star power in the field as Mo Donegal, who is 5-2, takes part in his second leg (Kentucky Derby), and We The People makes his debut as the odds on favorite at just 2-1.
Just because this is the third and final leg doesn’t mean there will be any less coverage as things get started on CNBC at 3 PM EST breaking down the race that is scheduled for 6:45 PM EST. Official race coverage will begin at 5 PM EST on NC, hosted by the usual All-Star Cast of Mike Tirico, Randy Moss, and Jerry Bailey.
As race day approaches in New York, let’s take a closer look at the track, the field, and where I see the value remaining in the eight-horse field.
Previous Winners of the Belmont Stakes
- 2021: Essential Quality
- 2020: Tiz the Law
- 2019: Sir Winston
- 2018: Justify
Track Preview: Belmont Park
Located just east of New York City, Belmont Mark opened in 1905 with a renovation in 1968, producing the track we see today. Known as “The Big Sandy”, its main dirt track is the longest of the Triple Crown races at 1.5 miles.
It’s also known for the dirt’s depth, often times tiring horses at a faster pace than standard dirt tracks. With a capacity of over 120,000, Belmont Park also boasts some of the biggest attendance records in Triple Crown history. Operated by the New York Racing Association (NRYA), Belmont is one of the most prominent tracks on the east coast and a win here is a dream for the sport’s very best.
Outright Favorite Betting Pick (10/1 or less)
Mo Donegal (5-2)
Trained by one of the most established trainers in the history of the sport, Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher has won three previous Belmont Stakes, including the 2017 edition with Tapwrit. Knowing this track as good as any trainer in the field, Pletcher also will be working with one of the sport’s best jockeys in 29-year-old Irad Ortiz Jr.
Coming into this week and every year since 2017, Ortiz Jr. is ranked #1 in terms of wins in the national jockey standings. Additionally, he’s finished top three every year since 2013 in annual jockey standings, showing a propensity to finish near the top regularly.
As far as the horse is concerned, Mo Donegal was one of the favorites in the Kentucky Derby before finishing 5th. While it was the finish anyone on his team had hoped for, it is worth noting he was in the #1 gate, widely considered the worst in horse racing but especially at the crowded Kentucky Derby. Add in the fact that Mo Donegal finished first in three of the previous five career races, and I think there’s value here heading into the Belmont Stakes.
Outright Longshot Betting Pick (10/1 or more)
Barber Road (+1200)
Flying largely under the radar in this field of just eight horses, I think, is Barber Road. In his nine career starts, the three-year-old colt has shown in seven of them, finishing as high as 2nd at the super-competitive Arkansas Derby earlier this year.
Joel Rosario is the jockey and is a three-time Triple Crown race winner himself, including the Belmont stakes twice (2014 and 2019. With Kentucky Derby experience (6th) under his saddle as well, Barber Road comes into the Belmont at longer odds than I would’ve expected, given his recent race history and jockey’s pedigree.
And check out our previews for the top horses of the 2022 Belmont Stakes:
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