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Belmont Stakes preview

It's time for the third leg of the American Triple Crown, and hey presto, the forecast says it's going to piss down yet again! Absolutely charmed run for the mudlarks. Justify won't quite have the attention that American Pharoah did three years ago but it's still as big as it gets in the US across mainstream media.



Over to esteemed form analyst Stephen Richardson for a quick summary of the race.

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Belmont Stakes 2018

This year's field has 10 horses on Saturday competing for the 150th running of the Belmont Stakes in Elmont, New York. After winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in the last five weeks, the Bob Baffert-trained colt is attempting to become the 13th winner of the Triple Crown. Justify has drawn gate 1 and will race over the longest distance (2400m) of his racing career.

There is a reason the Belmont Stakes is nicknamed the Test of the Champion, it is an incredibly tough race and has proved the downfall of 23 Triple Crown past hopefuls with California Chrome in 2014 the most recent. Justify has won all of his five race day starts and was the first horse to win the Kentucky Derby since 1882 who was unraced as a two year old. He looked stronger than all of his rivals in the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes and should have no problem coping with the distance of the race. If he does prevail then he will join Seattle Slew in claiming the Triple Crown with a perfect race record.

When previewing a race I dislike selecting a short-priced favourite to win as the public don't need to be told the obvious. I would rather look to make a strong case for another runner at what I consider to be over the odds due to the weight of support for the favourite but this favourite does 'Justify' the short priced odds on offer. Backing a 4-5 favourite is fine if you are having a large wager and I think he will close on the jump at 8-13 ($1.60). I think he is at slight overs but for the smaller betting punter Justify isn't a wagering win bet so the best value could be in a place or a quinella bet.

1. Justify (4-5)
Obvious winner and with heavy rain forecast for the day he will suit the conditions better than most of his 11 rivals and will start shorter than his current odds if the weather forecasters prove to be
better judges than I can be sometimes.

2. Free Drop Billy (30-1)
A two-year-old sensation who hasn’t progressed with that form this season and doesn't race well in wet conditions. Not liked and expected to finish at the rear of the field.

3. Bravazo (8-1)
Racing well and finished on for sixth in the Derby. Was only a neck away from Justify in the Preakness and the extra distance should suit him but the concern is he could be starting to feel the effects of having raced in the those two previous runs.

4. Hofburg (9-2)
The second favourite and on paper he should offer the sternest opposition to the favourite having been freshed up nicely for this race.

5. Restoring Hope (30-1)
Stablemate of the winner but on recent efforts this race is out of his depth and he should finish last.

6. Gronkowski (12-1)
The word is that the stable is very confident of a huge run but there is a query over whether he can handle the race distance. Place hope worth backing if you can get $3.00 or over as with the distance query you wouldn't want anything to be taking any odds under that.

7. Tenfold (12-1)
Nice run to place in The Preakness and will handle any wet track conditions so expected to be right there at the finish and is a great place chance.

8. Vino Rosso (8-1)
Fair run last start would suggest that he will be coming home better than most but does seem a little light in the odds department. I expect him to finish 3rd or 4th.

9. Noble Indy (30-1)
Is at long odds and they will drift further if the track conditions deteriorate on the day. Best advice is to look elsewhere.

10. Blended Citizen (15-1)
His odds do seem rather short and a few form judges consider him a strong upset chance but I think he will be doing well to finish 4th or 5th.


Selections:
#1 Justify to win but the bet is #7 Tenfold to place as he will handle any wet track and the distance should suit him better than most.

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