This Saturday, June 11 is the 143rd running of the Belmont Stakes. Run annually at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York, this race is the third and final leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown. It is also the longest of three as it is contested over a distance of 1 ½ miles. This final and most demanding test of the top three-year old Thoroughbreds has a total prize purse of $1 million.
The following is a brief look at the favorite, the contenders, and a longshot to keep an eye on in this race along with their current odds to win as provided by BetUS.com
Animal Kingdom +200
After going off a 21-1 in the Kentucky Derby and taking the field by storm down the stretch to win by a comfortable 2 ¾ lengths, he was a half a length shy of winning the Preakness as the 2-1 favorite and having the chance to compete for the elusive Triple Crown in this race. Trained by H. Graham Motion and ridden by John Velazquez, this horse has shown the ability to finish strong which is essential in a race of this length.
“Close but no cigar” could be the story line for this horse after three second-place finishes in his last three races. He ended up second in the grade II Louisiana Derby in March and the grade I Arkansas Derby in April during the prep race season. He had the lead at the mid-stretch in the Kentucky Derby but gave way to Animal Kingdom late in the race. Trainer Steve Asmussen decided to hold Nehro out of the Preakness which could be huge advantage on Saturday given that the other top contenders ran both races.
Trainer Dale Roman’s entry in the Belmont was the pace setter in the grade I Florida Derby and finished second. He ran to the front at Kentucky, but faded down the stretch to finish fourth. A change in strategy by jockey Jesus Castanon in the Preakness had him stalk the lead to preserve enough energy for the stretch run, which worked to perfection as he held on for the win. It remains to be seen how he will hold up against the extra distance in this race.
Mucho Macho Man +900
This is another horse than ran both Triple Crown races. He turned in a solid performance at Kentucky with a third-place finish after making a late charge from the middle of the pack. Jockey Rajiv Maragh could not coax the same effort out of him in the Preakness as he stayed stuck in the field, taking sixth. Trained by Katherine Ritvo, you have to question how much does Mucho Macho Man have left in the tank for this race.
Stay Thirsty +1800
Trainer Todd Pletcher has been shut out of the money in the first two Triple Crown races, but he has confidence that his entry in the Belmont has a legitimate shot at finishing in the top three. Stay Thirsty’s past two races do not paint a rosy picture with a seventh-place finish in the Florida Derby and a dismal 12th-place finish in the Derby, but Pletcher is counting on this horse’s blood lines from a couple of distance runners to provide a breakthrough in this race.