I’ve had a good run in the Triple Crown races over the years and have come away with some winning tickets thus far in the first two legs of 2018. I hit the Exacta and Trifecta with my Kentucky Derby picks for some monster payouts. I then won with Justify on my Preakness Stakes picks. Check those results to verify.
Now it’s time for the 150th running of the Belmont Stakes. Justify is the odds-on favorite at 4-5. He will be looking to become the 13th Triple Crown winner, and the first since American Pharoah in 2015, who was also trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert. Justify is the worthy favorite, but the Belmont is the most grueling race of them all at 1 1/2 miles, so he will be tested like never before.
There are several different factors you must use to come up with your predictions. The horse’s pedigree is a big one, but past performances is the most important factor of all. With most of these Triple Crown races, you are able to see head-to-head results. Finding out how the contenders fared head-to-head can go a long way in predicting the outcome of their next race together.
Looking at how horses have run at certain distances also helps, and that goes right along with past performances. There are many more factors to use in your handicapping, but these three would be a good place to start. Here are my picks for the 2018 Belmont Stakes.
Many handicappers have made Hofburg the second favorite for the Belmont, and for good reason. He is a son of Tapit, who as stated with Tenfold, has produced three of the past four Belmont Stakes winners. Pedigree matters in the Belmont more than any other Triple Crown race.
After finishing second to Audible in the Florida Derby, Hofburg then finished a disappointing 7th in the Kentucky Derby, 8 3/4 lengths behind Justify. But he was steadied twice on the far turn due to traffic trouble. By the hime jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. had him positioned where he wanted for the stretch run, he was already 17 lengths behind. So he made up 8 1/4 lengths down the stretch, which is a great sign heading into the 1 1/2-mile Belmont.
Hofburg posted a 99 speed figure toward the end of the race, indicating he had plenty left in the tank for a longer run. That combination of speed and stamina fits perfectly with past winners of the Belmont. And he’s rested after skipping the Preakness, which cannot be said of Justify, Bravazo and Tenfold, which is a huge advantage. I think Hofburg will win the Belmont Stakes and spoil Justify’s Triple Crown bid.
I had Bravazo in my exotics in the Preakness Stakes because I saw a horse with a lot of potential. He had a troubled trip in the Kentucky Derby and really outperformed his odds. He did the same in the Preakness Stakes, finishing 2nd to Justify by less than a length at 15/1 odds. He closed strong and if that race was 1 1/2 miles instead of 1 1/4, he would have won.
Bravazo’s sire is Awesome Again, who won the Queen’s Plate at 1 1/4 miles and also posted victories in the Saratoga Handicap and the Breeder’s Cup Classic at age 4. Bravazo’s broodmare sire is Cee’s Tizzy, who is bread for the distance and finished second in the San Luis Ray Stakes at 1 1/2 miles.
Bravazo has the speed to get the job done, too. He posted triple-digit Brisnet pace figures as a three-year old in both the Louisiana Derby (103) and Preakness (101). The average Belmont winner has produced a 102 speed figure. Look for Bravazo to close very hard down the stretch and gain ground just as he did in the Preakness.
Tenfold surprised everyone in the Preakness Stakes by finishing 3rd at 25/1 odds, a nose behind Bravazo and less than a length behind Justify. Like Bravazo, he closed strong and would have passed Justify had the race been 1 1/2 miles like the Belmont is.
The pedigree is my favorite thing about Tenfold. He is by two-time Horse of the Year Curlin, who lose the 2007 Belmont Stakes by a nose to filly Rags to Riches. He is also out of a mare by Tapit, who has sired three of the past four Belmont Stakes winners. The only exception was Triple Crown winner American Pharoah in 2015.
This is a colt that is improving rapidly. In his last four races, he has posted speed figures of 92, 93, 94 and 97. That 97 at Pimlico in the Preakness was a career best, and he is primed to keep improving at his preferred distance of 1 1/2 miles.
From a wagering perspective, this is one of those rare occasions where I believe you can win a massive amount of money. That’s why I’m completely throwing out Justify, whose margin of victory has gotten smaller with each race, beating both Bravazo and Tenfold by less than a lengthy in the Preakness Stakes. I simply feel Justify runs out of gas here.
My favorite three horses are obviously Bravazo, Tenfold and Hofburg in that order. The one horse I think that could hit the board outside those four is Blended Citizen, who is coming off a career-best run in the Peter Pan at Belmont. He is familiar with the track and I would love to see him finish out our Superfecta.
For only $96 wagered, if you hit all three of these exotic bets you will win thousands of dollars back. It’s worth a shot throwing out Justify and going for the big payout in the Belmont.
|2||Free Drop Billy||30/1|