23:46 - Belmont Preview & Tips
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The final leg of the American Triple Crown as Justify looks to follow American Pharoah in to the record books with victory after winning the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness. History is littered with horses who come unstuck stepped up to this trip but the favourite has looked the part so far and puts his unbeaten record on the line here for trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Mike Smith. Read our tipsters' expert preview and back the winner with myracing.
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As we all know by now this race is all about the Triple Crown seeking Justify who has already won the Kentucky Derby and The Preakness and is looking for a piece of history here over the mile and a half. He is one of the most perfect looking horses you will ever see and remains unbeaten after five starts, but as a son of Scat Daddy out of a Ghostzapper mare there remains a serious question over his stamina for this trip. He is undoubtedly top class but Evens does look a shocking price after two very tough races and the value may yet lie with TENFOLD (Each Way) who can be snapped up at a double figure price. His trainer is delighted with his wellbeing and after four starts there is every likelihood of further improvement, and with just three-quarters of a length to find with the favourite over a trip that should suit him ideally, a place looks on the cards at the very least.
1 JUSTIFY – Five wins from five starts including the first two legs of the Triple Crown at Churchill Downs and Pimlico and clearly the one they all have to beat today. There is a nagging doubt about his stamina for this trip and he does arrive on the back of two hard races. Hard to beat but not 100% bullet-proof though if he stays he wins, simple as that.
2 FREE DROP BILLY – Nothing we can find suggests he will stay this trip and even if he does he has to turn around a forty-one length defeat behind Justify, Bravazo, Hofburg, and Vino Rosso in the Kentucky Derby and it will be a major surprise if he returns any better than an also ran. Trainer Dale Romans is a great character and will enjoy the day but surely a win is beyond even him with the son of Union Rags.
3 BRAVAZO – A decision has to be made, was Justify idling in front in the Preakness, or was Bravazo catching him close home? If it’s the first he won’t win but if it’s the latter then the added quarter mile here may even see him get past the favourite, and with the legendary D Wayne Lukas in his corner if there is an upset he may yet be the one to provide it.
4 HOFBURG – A bit of a dark horse here and the subject of plenty of market support in the last few days as he looks to win this in the pink and green colours of Juddmonte Farms for trainer Bill Mott. He ran in to traffic problems in the Kentucky Derby before connections gave the Preakness a swerve and with connections seemingly pretty bullish a big run is eagerly anticipated.
5 RESTORING HOPE – Hats off to Bob Baffert for running a second horse in this prestigious contest and it needs to be noted that his trainer has always felt he was straight out of the top drawer. Whether he is up to this standard is still open to question and he does need to do a lot more than his twelfth in first time blinkers in the Grade Three pat Day Mile at Churchill Downs but that was over a mile and better is expected upped to this trip.
6 GRONKOWSKI – Last seen winning at Newcastle on the All-Weather in Listed class for trainer Jeremy Noseda but now with Chad Brown and makes his American debut on dirt today. He has won his last four races now but doesn’t look bred to get this trip and is yet to race on this surface leaving him with an awful lot to find in this exalted company
7 TENFOLD – Trainer Steve Asmussen seems pretty bullish about the chances of the son of Curlin who has room for improvement after just the four starts. He won the first two at Oaklawn Park before a fifth in the Grade One Arkansas Derby before a career best third to Justify in the Preakness, beaten three-quarters of a length when staying on at one pace close home. One to consider for the places on that form with the possibility of more improvement to come.
8 VINO ROSSO – One of the more likely stayers here and although he may lack the electric turn of foot of some, he will have time to gradually get in to top gear here and is expected to be closing on the leaders all the way to the line. He did finish over ten lengths behind Justify at Churchill Downs when looking very one paced but missed the Preakness for this and is one to at least consider for any tri-cast bets.
9 NOBLE INDY – In the same ownership as Justify and another who likes to press the early pace but surely instructions will not allow him to do anything to jeopardise the favourite’s chances. He may well sit up near the leaders and if the jolly falters he will obviously try his very best to bring home the prize, but he was beaten forty-two lengths in the Kentucky Derby by Justify and it is hard to see him reversing that form even over this trip.
10 BLENDED CITIZEN – Eligible for the Kentucky Derby bit the son of Proud Citizen failed to get in to the starting line-up but he has picked up a decent Grade Three prize at Belmont Park over a mile to keep his owners happy for now. If he stays this far then he will be arriving very late on the scene off the blistering early pace expected here but this still looks a huge ask and others appeal far more at present.