The Belmont Stakes is the race that has the whole of the United States buzzing, as the final Triple Crown race of the season takes place on June 5th.
Bob Baffert will have no runners in the race this year, as the NYRA responded by suspending him after the positive drug test of Medina Spirit following the Kentucky Derby.
It promises to be one of the most exciting renewals in recent years, but which runners stand the best chance of winning the race?
Previous Winners & Trends
Grade 1 typically attracts a field that ranges of runners that competed in one of the earlier Triple Crown races, while it is also a race that connections often look to target and instead opt to bypass the first two races. Preakness Stakes winners haven’t fared well in recent years, as only three winners of the Belmont competed in the second Triple Crown race in the ten years between 1999 and 2019. Two of those winners completed the Triple Crown, with American Pharoah winning in 2015 and Justify winning in 2018.
It also isn’t a negative to have a runner lining up in the month before the Belmont showpiece, as five winners since 2000 have won a race in the four weeks before the Belmont Stakes. The most recent to achieve that feat was Sir Winston in 2019.
The Belmont Stakes is often a good race for those gamblers that want to look at the bigger prices, as favorites have often disappointed. Horses that have been set off at short prices and have disappointed in recent seasons include Curlin and War of Will. Meanwhile, non-Preakness runners that had started the season with Kentucky Derby success have also disappointed at Belmont. Horses such as Mine That Bird and Orb both started the Belmont Stakes at short prices, before failing to win the final Triple Crown.
Belmont Stakes 2023 Contenders
There will likely be only two runners that will be lining up for the Belmont Stakes after the Preakness. One of those will be the winner of the second Triple Crown Rombauer. The three-year-old surprised everybody by winning the Preakness Stakes, as he managed to hold on to win by three and a half lengths. Midnight Bourbon, who was second, has been one of the most recent horses to withdraw from the Grade 1. His success at Pimlico in May certainly doesn’t improve his chances of winning at Belmont, and better value could be found elsewhere.
We have mentioned the record of favorites in this race in the past, but Essential Quality will be looking to defy that trend. The three-year-old is going to go off in the Belmont Stakes as the horse to beat, as the Brad Cox-trained horse looks to put his disappointing run in the Kentucky Derby behind him. His record before lining up at Churchill Downs certainly ticked a lot of boxes for gamblers, as he won three Grade 1s, including a victory at the Breeders’ Cup at the end of last season. A disappointing run in the Kentucky Derby will not be enough to put most gamblers off giving the three-year-old a second chance.
Hot Rod Charlie was also another strong runner in the Kentucky Derby, as he held on to finish in third. Like Essential Quality, he has already won a graded race this season, as he won the Louisiana Derby in March. Gamblers will be wary of supporting the Doug O’Neill-trained horse at Belmont, as he has regularly come up short when he has come up against classier horses. He has been beaten by Medina Spirit on two occasions this season, and Essential Quality on one occasion.
Rock Your World and Known Agenda are two runners that will be lining up at Belmont after bypassing the Preakness Stakes after disappointing runs in the Kentucky Derby. Both have proven form, but whether they have the class for the Belmont Stakes remains to be seen.
France Go de Ina is the Japanese raider that we still know very little about after he made his first start on American soil at the Preakness. He battled strongly in that contest, but the conditions are unlikely to suit him any better in the Belmont Stakes at the beginning of June.
Brooklyn Strong and Bourbonic were both also involved in the Kentucky Derby, but neither had the quality to get anywhere near the front. Once again, they will need to find something special to get anywhere near winning this Triple Crown race. We would be extremely surprised to see them go off anywhere near 20/1.
Overtook and Rebel’s Romance are two that will come into this race without competing in any of the previous Triple Crown races. Overtook has won just once in his career to this point for trainer Todd Pletcher, with that win coming in a maiden special weight at Aqueduct in December.
He could only follow that up with a third in the Peter Pan Stakes, and he will need to find much more at Belmont for the final Triple Crown race.
Belmont Stakes 2023 Picks
Rebel’s Romance is a horse that we like a lot for the Belmont Stakes, as it ticks a lot of boxes. It will be his first run in America this season, but he has been performing excellently on the dirt in the UAE throughout this term.
He won by over five lengths in the UAE Derby, which was a competitive renewal and bolds well for his chances at Belmont. The biggest question that will be held against this three-year-old is whether the conditions will suit.
There would be no way of knowing the answer to that question until the race itself, but his form for trainer Charlie Appleby means that it is well worth taking a chance on Rebel’s Romance. Foreign-bred horses have won this race in the past, and he could become the fourth Irish-bred winner.
The last foreign-bred winner of the race was Victory Gallop in 1998. For gamblers looking to take on the market leaders, Rebel’s Romance is an outsider with a great chance.
Click here to see how to bet on the Belmont Stakes: https://www.twinspires.com/belmont-stakes/betting