2022 Belmont Stakes one-liners
The Triple Crown trail reaches its final destination in the 154th Belmont S. (G1) on Saturday.
The results of the first two jewels were trip-dependent. The Kentucky Derby (G1) served up a wild pace, and the inevitable meltdown gave the 80-1 Rich Strike his dream set-up for a shocker.
His trainer Eric Reed’s decision to skip the Preakness (G1) proved spot-on, both for the Derby winner’s energy level going into the Belmont, and given the race dynamics at Pimlico. Pace-tracking Early Voting made the most of his favorable scenario to beat Epicenter, a tough-luck runner-up as the favorite in both the Derby and Preakness. Neither of them is advancing to the Belmont, leaving its pace forecast modest at best.
The Belmont likewise figures to be a tale of trips, but to whose benefit? Will the 1 1/2-mile “Test of the Champion” unfold as plainly as it looks on paper, or will the topsy-turvy 2022 Triple Crown have one last plot twist in store?
Here’s my summary judgment of the eight contenders, in post order:
#1 We the People: Controlling speed as in his Peter Pan (G3) romp, but must carry it farther over better foes.
#2 Skippylongstocking: Grinding type likely secures a more tactical position with new pilot Manny Franco.
#3 Nest: Very smart filly is bred to excel at this distance and gets a five-pound weight break.
#4 Rich Strike: Derby shocker has to prove he’s not just a deep-closing Churchill Downs specialist.
#5 Creative Minister: Rapid improver faces challenge of progressing again rather than regressing from recent efforts.
#6 Mo Donegal: Total package saves his best for New York.
#7 Golden Glider: Resemblance to 2019 Belmont winner Sir Winston might be more superficial than real.
#8 Barber Road: Blinkers off, and Joel Rosario on, could help the consistent bridesmaid.