Well, we’re back again for the third and final leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown. And if we can come close to replicating our handicapping performance from the Preakness Stakes day card, we’ll be pretty happy campers to say the least.
The 14-race lineup for Saturday’s monster day of racing at Belmont Park, highlighted by the 153rd running of the Belmont Stakes, is loaded with massive fields and plenty of opportunities to cash big at the windows.
Thankfully, we have a nice bankroll entering the card after hitting multiple exotic wagers three weeks ago at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore. Alive to five horses entering the Preakness, longshot Rombauer came from off the pace at 12-1 odds to score the upset and deliver the winning Pick 4 ticket.
That $0.50 wager that involved a total investment of $80 brought back $2,797.60 for all who played the horizontal ticket.
Pretty damn impressive call. https://t.co/AUXI1Nl4mx
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) May 15, 2021
However, like everything in sports wagering, the highs and lows even themselves out the majority of the time, so hopefully we can maintain that moment from Pimlico into more profit on this intriguing Belmont card.
There are numerous stakes races on tap, highlighted by the Belmont Stakes. Eight contenders will leave the starting gate for this $1.5 million event, which is run at a lengthy 1 1/2 miles on the dirt track at Belmont Park. The track surface is deep and difficult to run over, hence why it’s called “Big Sandy.”
Kentucky Derby favorite Essential Quality headlines the field as the top betting option, opening at 2-1 odds. Romabuer (3-1) is the second choice at 3-1, followed by Louisiana Derby winner Hot Rod Charlie (7-2; third in the Kentucky Derby) and Santa Anita Derby winner Rock Your World at 9-2 odds.
Let’s take a quick look at how I’m playing the Belmont Stakes from a betting perspective, including my Win-Place-Show and exacta/trifecta wagering. And yes, I’ve tacked on another intriguing Pick 4 ticket involving races 8 through 11 on the card.
Belmont Stakes Bets
Not known for typically small fields, the Belmont Stakes is really packed full of intrigue this year since six of the eight entries have a legitimate shot at winning this jewel of the Triple Crown.
I went back and forth between four of the contenders, finally settling on Rock Your World due to his value at 9-2 odds and the fact the son of Candy Ride is much better than his 17th-place performance in the Kentucky Derby.
Ridden by Joel Rosario, the 3-year-old standout got sandwiched right out of the gate by Essential Quality and Highly Motivated, which led to him being roughly shuffled back. Rosario lost his irons in the process, effectively ending any chance of the pair winning the race.
I just feel like the lightly raced colt, who will be making just his third career start on the dirt in five lifetime efforts, is going to be able to work out the trip he wants after drawing No. 7 post in a race where the front runner could get away from the rest of the field if the fractions remain modest.
Initially, I had this race narrowed down to two horses, with the other being Florida Derby winner Known Agenda. After rewatching his Kentucky Derby performance, I became even more impressed with the way this horse finished up the second half of the 1 1/4-mile affair after having a similarly awful start at Churchill Downs.
However, trainer Todd Pletcher and the horse’s connections took a big hit when jockey Irad Ortiz Jr., the three-time Eclipse Award winner, went down in a nasty spill aboard Equal Pay in a race Thursday at Belmont Park. Ortiz had to be taken to a local hospital to be treated for his injuries, but should only be sidelined for a few weeks.
I actually saw the race live and realized how lucky Ortiz Jr. was after watching the replay. As you will see below, he was clipped by the first horse after being tossed from his mount and escaped harm when another horse, coincidentally ridden by his brother, Jose Ortiz, jumped over him without incident.
Positive thoughts & prayers for @iradortiz after getting bucked off by #6 Equal Pay at Belmont Park.
The filly seemed to have tripped herself up. Fished out the race well. pic.twitter.com/FBSsPYWU52
— Blaise Bollman (@BlaiseLBC) June 3, 2021
With Ortiz Jr. now off the mount, the odds on Known Agenda will likely balloon closer to 10-1 odds. It doesn’t help that Pletcher is waiting to name his replacement rider the day of the race as well.
My guess is Jose Ortiz or Hall of Famer rider Javier Castellano will climb aboard due to their extensive knowledge of the track. And what cool story it would be if it was Irad Ortiz Jr.’s brother taking the reins and bringing home the Belmont Stakes victory.
I still find plenty of value on Known Agenda regardless as to who’s riding him. The good part is the fact we’re going to get even better odds on him now that his regular jockey is unable to participate.
That said, I will take my chances with Rock Your World and play him across the board in my Win-Place-Show wagering. I will also sprinkle a little on Known Agenda for Place and Show, but might jump on this horse via a win bet if he winds up at 10-1 odds or longer.
As for my Belmont Stakes exotics, I will box up Essential Quality and Hot Rod Charlie with the aforementioned pair. I’m taking a chance in leaving Rombauer off this ticket, but I just feel like Michael McCarthy’s charge is a likely bounce candidate after such a brilliant performance in the Preakness.
My final exotic for the Belmont will be a simple trifecta box using the four horses I have in the exacta, along with Rombauer. I will say the horse that does give me slight cause for concern is No. 8 Overtook (20-1), who is a son of legendary talent Curlin. I don’t know what to make of this horse that being ridden by Manny Franco, who won the Belmont a year ago aboard Tiz The Law.
If you’re going deeper with a superfecta wager, I highly recommend getting Overtook onto your tickets.
Here is my complete list of plays tied to the Belmont Stakes, including my Pick 4 selections. Since we had a successful score on Preakness day, I’ve stretched this ticket out a little further and upped the investment.
My Belmont Stakes Bets
$20 Win | Place | Show: No. 7 Rock Your World (9-2)
$10 Place | Show: No. 6 Known Agenda (6-1)
$4 Exacta Box: 2-4-6-7
$1 Trifecta Box (play for $0.50 for a smaller investment): 2-3-4-6-7
Pick 4 (Races 8-9-10-11)
Wager: $0.50 for an $150 total investment
Race 8: 4-6-9-10-11
Race 9: 2-5-6
Race 10: 4-6-7-9-10
Race 11: 2-4-6-7