Justify received the No. 1 post for Saturday’s Belmont Stakes, where he will try to become the 13th horse to win the Triple Crown.
The winner of the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes was made the early 4/5 favorite to win at the Belmont.
Baffert Worried About Inside Draw
Since 1905, 23 horses have won the Belmont from the No. 1 position. Still, the last time that position won was in 2003, and trainer Bob Baffert would have preferred to get his horse a position more towards the middle of the 10-horse field.
“I never do like to draw the rail, but my horses seem to live in it,” Baffert told reporters on Tuesday. “We have it, we can’t change it. We’ll deal with it.”
Given that Justify was a strong winner in each of the first two Triple Crown races, and that he is undefeated in five career starts, bettors are sure to line up behind favorite on Saturday. But there are a few other runners in the field who have a shot at playing spoiler.
Hofburg (9/2) is given the best chance at pulling the upset. While he only finished seventh at the Kentucky Derby, his profile appears to favor the longer, 1.5 mile Belmont Stakes, meaning he could give Justify a tough test.
Only two other horses were listed at under 10/1 odds. Bravazo (8/1) finished a close second in the Preakness and was making up ground late, meaning the horse could potentially find more luck in a longer race. Vino Rosso (8/1) should be well-rested, but a ninth-place finish at the Kentucky Derby isn’t the kind of result that would suggest he’ll be a serious threat to Justify this weekend.
Will Justify Dictate Pace?
Those kinds of odds make it look like this is the favorite’s race to lose. D. Wayne Lukas, who trains Bravazo, echoed that assessment, believing that the rest of the field will be running Justify’s race come Saturday.
“He is so talented, I think he can dictate the race,” Lukas said on Tuesday. “That is the thing that makes him very tough to beat. He can pick his spots. He is the key to how all of us run.”
There’s another horse in the field that should be of interest to sports fans. Gronkowski (12/1) is named after New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, who is also one of the colt’s co-owners. The horse is based in the UK and has never raced in the United States, having previously been scheduled to compete in the Kentucky Derby before getting an infection and dropping out.
Other horses rounding out the field include third-place Preakness finisher Tenfold (12/1), 2018 Peter Pan winner Blended Citizen (15/1), and a trio of 30/1 longshots: Free Drop Billy, Restoring Hope, and Noble Indy.
Should Justify win the Belmont, he will become the second Triple Crown winner in four years, with the last to pull off the feat being American Pharoah in 2015. Unsuccessful bids are more common in the final race, with 23 horses failing to finish off the Triple Crown after winning the first two legs.