The Triple Crown season in the United States draws to a close in June, as Belmont Park hosts the 154th edition of the Belmont Stakes. The final leg for the Triple Crown won’t see a champion crowned this year, as Rich Strike has opted to bypass the Preakness Stakes in favor of a run in the final leg. Meanwhile, a number of other returning challengers will also line up in New York for the final Triple Crown race of the season.
This final leg is run over a distance of 1 ½ miles and is the biggest test that many of this year’s three-year-olds have faced, as they will compete over a longer distance than they have previously. You can check here how to bet on this competition: https://www.twinspires.com/belmont-stakes/betting
So, which horses could be among the early contenders to win this year’s Belmont Stakes?
Nobody could have foreseen that the biggest story of the Triple Crown season this year would centre around Eric Reed’s Rich Strike. The three-year-old produced one of the all-time best performances at Churchill Downs, as he outrun his odds of 81/1 to win this year’s edition of the Kentucky Derby. It was a result that caught almost every racing fan off guard.
Many were disappointed with the decision of connections to bypass the Preakness Stakes after winning the Derby, but Reed has announced that all their focus will be on the Belmont Stakes in June. Gamblers won’t be getting the 81/1 odds that were evident for the Kentucky Derby, but he is likely to be a prominent selection in the betting based on the performance he put in at Churchill Downs.
Chad Brown will be looking for a first ever career victory in the Belmont Stakes at the end of the Triple Crown season, and there is every expectancy that we could see Zandon being his leading contender. The three-year-old ran a good race in third in the Kentucky Derby, but it was decided shortly afterwards that they wouldn’t be making a bid for the Preakness Stakes in late May. Instead, the focus will now likely turn towards Belmont for a run in the final Triple Crown race of the year. However, he might not even race on this event at all.
Zandon lined up for the Derby after winning the G1 Blue Grass Stakes in early April, and that was the same race won by Essential Quality in 2021 before he went on to win the Belmont Stakes. The three-year-old already has experience of the track too, as he broke his maiden at Belmont in October of last year. That victory came over six furlongs so this will be a completely different challenge, but he certainly looks to be a horse moving in the right direction.
Todd Pletcher is likely to bring a strong team to the Belmont Stakes in June, which could also include Pioneer of Medina and Charge It. However, his main contender looks to be Mo Donegal. The three-year-old ran a very strong race in the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs, as he started on the rail and finished in fifth. He wasn’t really involved in the battle for the win, but he is likely to come on after such a strong run at the start of May.
He has already kept very good company throughout his career, as he won the G2 Wood Memorial and G2 Ramsen, and was third in the G3 Holy Bull. It only helps his chances that both of his first two starts of track were made at Belmont, which included a victory over a distance of 1 1/16 miles back in October. He could be the value in the betting for the Belmont Stakes in June.
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