2021 Belmont Stakes one-liners
After unresolved questions from the first two jewels of the Triple Crown, the Belmont S. (G1) can provide some clarity to the three-year-old division. At least that’s the hope for Saturday’s 1 1/2-mile classic at Belmont Park.
The hard-luck stories from the Kentucky Derby (G1) get an opportunity to set the record straight. Chief among them are the previously unbeaten pair of Essential Quality and Rock Your World, but Known Agenda didn’t get a proper chance either.
The Preakness S. (G1) also poses a what-if. After Rombauer skipped the Derby and won in smashing style at Pimlico, the first thought was what might have happened had he raced at Churchill Downs. If it’s simplistic to retroject that kind of performance onto a different setup in the Derby, Rombauer gets a chance to stake his claim in the Belmont.
The third jewel therefore pits the Derby form against the Preakness. The Derby was the deeper race overall, but Rombauer was much the best against the Churchill alumni he did meet. That makes for a fascinating match-up.
Here’s my summary judgment on the Belmont contenders, in post position order:
Grandson of Belmont winners is unlikely to put himself in a good position to emulate them.
#2 ESSENTIAL QUALITY
Champion has the right profile for this race after losing a tough-trip Derby by a length.
Preakness star will have to adapt to a less advantageous pace scenario.
#4 HOT ROD CHARLIE
Consistent performer will give himself every chance, if he can stay the trip.
#5 FRANCE GO DE INA
Longshot must take a giant leap forward to claim the $1 million bonus for a Japanese winner.
#6 KNOWN AGENDA
Rebound candidate needs to answer a lingering scruple about the merits of the Florida Derby (G1).
#7 ROCK YOUR WORLD
Santa Anita Derby (G1) conquest of Medina Spirit makes him a danger on the front end.
New blinkers plus exquisite pedigree will have to add up to a lot to factor.