Everybody is getting excited now as we reach the final leg of the 2022 Triple Crown, and as we countdown to post time we have what looks likely to be a field of ten going to post on Saturday, June 11th.
And what an exciting race it promises to be with Kentucky Derby hero Rich Strike attempting to follow up his shock win when an 80/1 outsider at Churchill Downs.
It is a shame that the Preakness winner Early Voting is not lining up, but there are reasons for that and you’ll read a bit further down as we make our top picks and selections.
Who are our Top Horse Racing Picks for the Belmont Stakes?
With a likely field of 8-10 runners for the big race, a key issue for many of these horses is the pace of the race. However, it looks like We The People and Skippylongstocking will be up with the speed and this provides the likes of Rich Strike, Mo Donegal and Creative Minister the opportunity to stalk and use their stamina from the top of the stretch.
Our main Belmont Stakes pick is Mo Donegal who finished fifth behind Rich Strike in the Kentucky Derby.
1. Mo Donegal +225
Even though Mo Donegal put himself in line for the Belmont after his unlucky Kentucky Derby fifth, it is the subsequent win of Early Voting in the Preakness which earns him the vote.
Going back to the Wood Memorial, his beating of Early Voting stands out. He was way back but closed in deep stretch to nail Early Voting on the wire. Although we might have looked at that form as solid then. It now looks like one of the best pieces of three-year-old form now that Early Voting has gone on to win the Preakness Stakes.
Anybody who saw Mo Donegal bobble at the start of the Derby will know how unlucky the horse was. He had to be rushed up to get a position at the clubhouse turn heading to the backstretch and then had to move to the six-lane at the top of the stretch. He looks to have a strong chance to turn the form around with Rich Strike, and the racebooks seem to think that is the case, making him the chalk here.
Top Belmont Stakes Pick: Mo Donegal +225
2. Rich Strike +500
The striking chestnut trained by Eric Reed will be the news and TV storyline in the week before the Belmont Stakes, and on race day too. It’s been a long time since we saw such a stretch run to win the Kentucky Derby and there is no doubting that the sweeping Belmont track should favor Reed’s charge. Many still think his Derby win was a one-off, but can he back it up here and prove the doubters wrong?
One thing that is more or less guaranteed will be his ability to handle the distance, and if we get that strong expected pace and speed from Skippylongstocking and the last time gate to wire winner We The People, then Red Strike’s stamina is sure to be a potent weapon. It’s tough to see him not hitting the board here and at 5/1 looks great value for players who like to play across the board.
Next Best Belmont Stakes Pick: Rich Strike +500
3. Creative Minister +600
The McPeek’s horse has gone from strength to strength, and after just four races, with the last one being a third spot in the Preakness Stakes, he looks a big player here. He got much closer to the pace last time with a much better start and if doing that again, he will be a danger to the chalk.
He made a move at the 3/8ths pole stalking the outsider Armagnac and Early Voting into the stretch, but then Early Voting and Epicenter quickened off the slow early pace and Creative Minister was left flat-footed before a late close saw him rally right to the wire.
Next Best Belmont Stakes Pick: Creative Minister +600
Who is the Best Bet in the Belmont Stakes?
As we mentioned, Mo Donegal is our top pick, but why?
From a pace angle, We The People will likely try and go gate to wire and this will be a real positive. As in the Wood Memorial when beating Early Voting, Mo Donegal closed like a freight train to get up on the wire.
Add to that the fact jockey Irad Ortiz Jr would have had the pick of the Pletcher barn buddies (Nest and Mo Donegal) and it all points to the favorite. He will adopt a nice stalking position to stay out of trouble and will make his move at the top of the stretch.
Who is a Key Long Shot in the Belmont Stakes?
We think Barber Road (+1400) is one of the best long shots in this year’s Belmont Stakes. Trained by John Ortiz and ridden by Joel Rosario, this one won his first two starts and has run consistently at stakes level, including when sixth in the Kentucky Derby.
Once again a slow start cost him in that race and he was behind both Mo Donegal and Rich Strike coming out of the back stretch. He moved wide to the 7 lane where he got in front of Mo Donegal but could not contain that rival.
However, he battled gamely all the way to the wire and he looks great value, especially in exotics. Don’t be worried as you can expect him to be far back, but he’ll close all the way to the wire.
Best Belmont Stakes Long Shot Pick: Barber Road +1400
Betting on the Belmont Stakes
If you are looking to bet on the Belmont Stakes, we have a few options that you should definitely consider:
Mo Donegal is going to be a tough nut to crack and although he is the chalk and not huge value at +225 on the boards. This stamina-laden third leg of the Triple Crown looks ideal for him after his earlier win over Early Voting.
Across the Board
If you are looking for a play across the board then our suggested long shot Barber Road could be a good play. He looks sure to stay this distance and there are still some question marks on that point about some of his rivals. Backing him to win/place/show across the board could see a nice return at odds of +1400 (14/1).
In the exotics, the key horse has to be Rich Strike. It looks impossible to keep him off the board and placing him in a mix of bets with Mo Donegal (our top pick), Creative Minister, and Barber Road (our longshot pick) could pay dividends.
*Odds correct at time of writing.
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Image By: Mike Lizzi