How to bet the Belmont Stakes if against Justify
by Scott Shapiro
However, there is certainly a case to be made for taking a shot against the son of Scat Daddy, especially at a short price. Not only has the undefeated Bob Baffert trainee regressed in back-to-back starts since a career-best 114 BRIS Speed rating in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) on April 7, but like the rest of this field he tries 1 1/2 miles for the initial time.
For those of you that want more value than Justify will offer in the 150th Belmont Stakes, here are some thoughts.
Hofburg (#4) and Tenfold (#7) are the two most talented colts outside of the dual classic winner. Both are lightly raced, but both have already proven they can be competitive with the best three-year-olds in the country.
Hofburg ran second to Audible in the Florida Derby (G1) and encountered traffic before galloping out strong in the Kentucky Derby (G1). He is amongst the colts who have the best chance to get the 12 furlongs at Big Sandy.
Tenfold did not impress in the Arkansas Derby (G1), but bounced back in a big way when he ran third, beaten just three-quarters of a length, in the Preakness Stakes (G1). He appears to be thriving at the right time.
If Justify loses I expect one of these two to win the 2018 Belmont Stakes.
Trainer Todd Pletcher has had a ton of success in this race and he sends two runners out on Saturday afternoon.
Vino Rosso (#8) ran ninth in the Derby, but two back he earned a career-best 102 BRIS Speed rating winning the Wood Memorial (G2) by three lengths. I do not think he is good enough to beat this entire group, but the $410,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase is bred as well as anyone in the race to get the 12 furlongs.
Noble Indy (#9) is the longer of the two Pletcher colts on the morning line, but is not without a shot to hit the board in the Belmont. He failed to fire at big odds over the slop at Churchill Downs, but he has shown that he can battle throughout, like he did in the Louisiana Derby (G2), and still get the best of his opposition. Pletcher takes the blinkers back off on Saturday and legs up Javier Castellano. Noble Indy should be prominently placed and can definitely outrun his 30-1-morning-line odds.
Bravazo (#3) is the only horse other than Justify to run in all three 2018 Triple Crown races. He has thrown in a few clunkers, but has also run two solid races in a row for Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas. I expect there to be at least one or two better than the son of Awesome Again, but I would not leave him off underneath spots in exotic wagers.
Gronkowski (#6) and Blended Citizen (#10) are probably too slow, but they may be able to clunk up for third or fourth.
Here is how I would bet the Belmont Stakes if I was against Justify:
$2 Exacta Wheel 4+7 with 3+4+7+8+9 = $16
$2 Exacta Box 4+7+8 = $12
$2 Exacta Box 4+7+9 = $12
$1 Trifecta Wheel 4+7 with 4+7+8+9 with 1+3+4+6+7+8+9+10 = $36
Total Budget = $64