Flavien Prat atop Rombauer crosses the finish line to win the Preakness Stakes horse race at Pimlico Race Course, Saturday, May 15, 2021, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
- The final leg of the Triple Crown is the Belmont Stakes on June 5 in New York
- Preakness Stakes winner Rombauer and Kentucky Derby favorite Essential Quality are top contenders
- What early betting strategy is valuable when wagering on The Test of the Champion
Do you remember the 2020 Belmont Stakes? Some would like to forget it. Because of COVID-19 it was the first of the Triple Crown races and reduced from a-mile-and-a-half to a-mile-and-an-eighth. Tiz the Law won, but it did not feel like the Belmont.
What makes the Belmont great is sometimes the Triple Crown is up for grabs, the marathon distance, and for those who ran in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, it is a third major challenge in five weeks.
Belmont Stakes odds to a degree take into account the fact we do not yet know who is going to run. Prices are bumped up a little now because there is no refund if your horse opts out of the Belmont.
So who is going to run, and which option is worthy of a wager at this juncture? Let’s look at the odds and discuss several worthwhile options.
2021 Belmont Stakes Odds
|Horse||Odds at Bet365|
|Hot Rod Charlie||+600|
|Rock Your World||+800|
|France Go De Ina||+3300|
Odds as of May 17
The major storyline during much of the lead-up to the Preakness Stakes was Medina Spirit’s positive drug test at the Kentucky Derby. What was equally true and less discussed is the fact that this is an era where rest is valued to a very large degree. The Preakness winner was well-rested and a less polished horse than those who ran in Louisville too.
While Rombauer’s upset was super impressive, now he will face horses with fresh legs, and all of the competitors will face a longer distance than they have ever run before.
There certainly have been some low-priced Belmont Stakes winners recently, but more often than not the price has been nice. Six horses in the last 20 years have won at +200 or less while in that same time frame 10 horses have finished first at +1000 or more. We’ve had four winners at +2000 or better, and three at +3000 or more in the last two decades.
Let’s review some of the top options for betting on this year’s Belmont Stakes.
2021 Breeders’ Cup Classic Odds Tracker
The Favorites: Essential Quality & Rombauer
Essential Quality entered the Kentucky Derby five-for-five in his career. He was a significant favorite in Louisville and was closing hard in the Run for the Roses despite not having the best of racing luck.
While Medina Spirit got the perfect trip, and several other horses more-or-less were able to run the race they had hoped for, Essential Quality bumped several hard times with Rock Your World early on, and then went wide on both turns.
Rombauer was hard to see coming in Baltimore. He had never won a race on dirt and was a well-beaten third in the Blue Grass Stakes.
Credit where credit is due. Rombauer didn’t get an amazingly fast pace setup and still rolled home against two of the Preakness favorites. That said, he finished behind Essential Quality when they faced each other in Lexington, and at the Breeders Cup Juvenile.
Top Contenders: Malathaat, Midnight Bourbon, Hot Rod Charlie
Girls don’t opt to face the boys all that frequently, but Kentucky Oaks winner Malathaat has certainly been very impressive starting her career five-for-five.
Three fillies have won the Belmont, Ruthless in 1867, Tanya in 1905, and Rags to Riches in 2007. Trainer Todd Pletcher has been coy when asked about Malathaat facing the boys.
Midnight Bourbon had a nightmare trip in the Kentucky Derby and seemed poised to win the Preakness before getting run by in a deep stretch. If he runs, he could be the only horse to compete in each leg of this year’s Triple Crown.
Hot Rod Charlie was well bet in the Kentucky Derby and ran a solid third after a lights-out performance in the Louisiana Derby.
Jockey Flavien Prat could have an interesting decision to make between riding Hot Rod Charlie or Rombauer, who he guided to victory in the Preakness.
Longshots: Known Agenda, Rock Your World, Promise Keeper
Both Known Agenda and Rock Your World were eliminated from contention in the Kentucky Derby right out of the gate.
Known Agenda has limited early speed and breaking from post number one got buried on the rail behind a wall of horses. Rock Your World, who prefers to run near the front, broke sideways into Essential Quality, wasn’t among the leaders, and was done almost immediately.
If you liked either in Kentucky, you should give them a second chance in New York. Known Agenda won the Florida Derby and in two races wearing blinkers prior to the Derby was impressive winning each. Rock Your World was three-for-three before trouble at Churchill Downs, and his victory in the Santa Anita Derby, his first career race on dirt, was a dominant one against strong competition.
Promise Keeper skipped the Derby but a week later won the Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park.
Sure that win was around one turn, and the Belmont Stakes is longer and around two bends, but there is value to having won at the track. Pletcher, who could have three or even four horses entered, has won the Belmont Stakes three times. Promise Keeper has three wins in five career starts.
Dave Friedman has covered professional and college sports for two decades. From ESPN to the Associated Press, Regional Sports Networks, Metro Networks, and many local outlets, he has written about and broadcast major and minor events throughout the country.