2021 Belmont Stakes (06/05/21)

Race 11, Dirt, 12 Furlongs

#1 Bourbonic 15/1

The entire field from his Wood Memorial win has been largely disappointing since. Bourbonic didn't “take that race.” He was “given it.” The notion that a deep closer should benefit from a longer distance is often not true either. These days thoroughbreds are more and more bred to go faster for longer. The added distance mostly just means the well-positioned runners in this one could see the most comfortable splits of their young careers. Toss.

#2 Essential Quality 2/1

Juvenile champ scored an 80+ Final as a Juvenile, built late speed with a dirt spread of -3 then to a -11 entering the Derby but still getting up to that 80+ Final. Took a bit of a long way around being wide in the Derby but never giving anything to the competition. Looked like he only failed by the amount of his ground loss. Won't be out of position this time.

#3 Rombauer 3/1

Nice development leading up to the eventual Preakness upset when setting a foundation for stamina with a young turf PLOW right into a dirt COMP. The foundation was certainly there to try him at 11/1 in that race but now he's dealing with a DTOP and instead of looking to overtake tired Derby runners 2 weeks back, he's got fresh Derby runners 5 weeks back. No value worth a shot here unless he floats up over 10/1 again.

#4 Hot Rod Charlie 7/2

In the money in the Juvenile as well as the Derby, he's been professional with how he handles contests. His running lines may look a bit up and down at first but the reality is that he pops bigger figures when he's running after a target as needed and relaxes only expending what he needs to when he's already decided the field's fate.

#5 France Go de Ina 30/1

Invading from Japan, this one flashed a bit of speed in the Preakness before being outran but did hold on enough to earn a COMP which good stepping stone for the Belmont but was still too slow and now requires a big improvement. Master Fencer's 2019 campaign to invade and make it stateside was miles ahead of this runner at this point. Could look interesting at times in this race but would be surprised if he has it in him to be truly contentious throughout.

#6 Known Agenda 6/1

The small moves forward in 4F Figure coupled with forward moves in Final Figure are really the basis of fundamental pace handicapping. Runner got stronger throughout Derby preps in a way that didn't take anything out of him and should continue to hold the potential to really break out big at any time with that foundation. Any horse is allowed an excuse in the bumper pool Kentucky Derby, especially from the inside post. Looks to be the main upset candidate here.

#7 Rock Your World 9/2

For the Derby, I talked about being worried his move from the less stressful turf to a blowout performance switching to dirt could be a hidden DTOP. His Derby was over before it even started so I didn't get to see if I was onto something or not when fading him there. Perhaps just got lucky. If he fires back here, I'll say speed on dirt is dangerous absolutely no matter the distance which will tempt me to use him in a saver ticket for a small portion of my budget. The bulk of it though, I'm going to hold my breath and let him go. Derby problems aside, he really hasn't been that smooth of a starter in any race instead relying on room to get his momentum going in order to flash his early speed before the first turn comes. I've often found while bettors love to use gate issues as an excuse to bet a horse back, more often than not, they are actually repeated, not remedied.

#8 Overtook 20/1

$1 million horse has a COMP and NPT credit to his early foundation and took the usual step forward from 2 to 3 years of age but is now looking for a huge spike in form to run with these. Some things could happen to coax him into the tri or super at big odds but it would be due to runners dropping off, not him moving forward enough to catch these. Figures are quite light compared to field although I'll take him over Bourbonic heads up all day.

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