11.49 Belmont Park: Belmont Stakes
What a weekend of classic action we have & it’s rounded off with the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes over in the US, the final leg of the triple crown. This is run over a mile & a half and despite the small field of 8, it’s certainly not lacking in quality. We have the winner of the Preakness as well as the 3rd & 4th horses home in the Kentucky Derby; add to that, 2 further runners from the Derby that were thought good enough to have SPs under 10/1 & it’s not going to be easy to find the winner.
Rombauer was the Preakness winner & went off at around 12/1 so it was fair to say he was unfancied by many (but not us). He looks likely to stay the trip but 2 things concern me; firstly, Flavien Prat has got off him to ride Hot Rod Charlie & secondly, he’s twice been beaten fair & square by another of today’s rivals, Essential Quality. Talking of Essential Quality, he was 4th in the Derby & will probably go off favourite here, with good reason. Brad Cox has talked him up as his Belmont horse, he was just over a length off the winner in the Derby but had the worst of trips, travelling very wide throughout. That performance can almost certainly be marked up. He was 5 from 5 prior to that so holds no secrets & isn’t a backable price for me.
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Hot Rod Charlie was one place in front of Essential Quality in the Derby & is ridden by Prat who rode him last time out too. The jockey booking says to me that it is believed the Derby form is more solid than the Preakness form, something I probably subscribe to, & the fact he finished one place in front of Essential Quality means his chances are solid enough. His form prior to the Derby was solid enough & I’m sure he’ll be in the mix but I have doubts whether he’s the one & at odds of 4/1, I’m prepared to look elsewhere. Bourbonic & France Go De Ina were both well beaten in the Derby & Preakness respectively, and neither have excuses so I can bypass those whilst Overtook comes here a little under the radar & could run well but this is a warm renewal so it takes some imagination to think he’ll be good enough here.
The other 2 runners both finished down the field in the Derby but both had excuses & it would not surprise me to see them both be involved in the finish so I’m going to put both up here. The first of those is Rock Your World who started 2nd favourite for the Derby after going into the race with a record of 3 from 3. Those 3 wins included the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby where he had Kentucky Derby ‘winner’ Medina Spirit almost 5 lengths back in 2nd. On a literal form line through that horse, he’s the most likely winner here. Admittedly, he ran poorly in the Derby but his chance went at the start when he was badly hampered, shuffled right back & could never get to his favoured front rank position. In this smaller field where there isn’t an obvious pace challenger, he could get an easy time of it & make amends for his last time out disappointment.
Known Agenda is my other selection. He had a terrible draw in 1 for the Derby & despite breaking well, he was shuffled back to race at the back, as is his running style. Undoubtedly, he got too far back & was never going to win from that position but he did make eyecatching progress to finish a closing 9th without being given the hardest of races. His form prior to that was impressive as he won the Florida Derby in fine style recording a RPR almost as good as any in this field. With just the 8 runners here, he’ll be able to race closer to the pace & I think a wider draw will help. He’s one of a few that looks like a step up in trip will bring about improvement & I cannot leave him out of my final selections.
Back Rock Your World (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 7.50 Skybet (⅕ odds 1-3)
Back Known Agenda (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 8.00 William Hill (⅕ odds 1-3)
Back it here: