How to bet the Belmont Stakes if you like Justify to win

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TwinSpires Staff

June 6th, 2018

by Scott Shapiro

In just a few days, Justify will try to become the 13th three-year-old to capture Thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown. The Bob Baffert trainee drew the rail and is listed as the 4-5 favorite in the 150th running of the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes (G1).

As I have discussed before, formulating an opinion on an odds-on favorite should always be the first step when handicapping a race of this nature. In this piece I will suggest a wagering strategy for how to bet this year’s Belmont Stakes if you conclude that Justify will be good enough to overcome an arduous campaign and capture the third leg of the Triple Crown. I will follow it up with a similar article mapping out an approach for those that think there will be an upset on Saturday afternoon.

Justify (#1) drew the inside, but his tactical speed and the configuration of Belmont Park should alleviate any concerns unless he completely botches the break. The son of Scat Daddy has regressed in both the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness Stakes (G1) after a career best 114 BRIS Speed rating in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) on April 7, but has looked incredible at Churchill Downs leading up to the Belmont Stakes.

It is understandable to forgive the slower efforts in Louisville, Kentucky, and Baltimore, Maryland, since they were both over off-goings. Furthermore, Justify showed he can win without being at his best last out when he battled with Good Magic all the way around the track before getting the best of the Chad Brown runner late.

Justify’s price is far too short for me to consider a Win bet, so keying him on top of vertical wagers is the best way to approach the 2018 Belmont Stakes.

Hofburg (#4) is the clear second choice at 9-2 and, given the buzz around this colt, he could go off even lower than that. His performance in the Florida Derby (G1) on March 31 in his initial start versus winners was impressive and he encountered significant trouble when last seen in the Kentucky Derby.

Hofburg clearly makes sense in this spot, but he is far from a cinch to move forward on Saturday. Furthermore, his late-running style does not usually equate to a big effort at 1 1/2 miles. Since we are keying the chalk on top, using the second choice underneath is not really an option, especially in a race like the Belmont with so many variables at play. Instead, I recommend leaning on horses who will provide more value.

Tenfold (#7) has trained forwardly since his third-place effort in the Preakness three weeks ago for trainer Steve Asmussen. This barn has been rolling of late and this son of Curlin is a lightly raced improving sort. I expect jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. to have the Winchell Thoroughbreds homebred a bit closer to the early pace on Saturday. If he can continue to move forward off of his 97 BRIS Speed rating in Baltimore, he is capable of giving Justify all he can handle in the lane.

Noble Indy (#9) showed serious determination when winning the Louisiana Derby (G2) back in March, but flopped in the slop in the Kentucky Derby at big odds. Trainer Todd Pletcher removes the blinkers on the son of Take Charge Indy and he draws well to the outside, which should allow veteran rider Javier Castellano to stalk just off the early pace. At 30-1 on the morning line, he is a must use underneath.

Bravazo (#3) enters Saturday in great form for trainer D. Wayne Lukas. The son of Awesome Again ran better than looks on paper in the Derby and then put forth a career best 97 BRIS Speed rating over the off going at Pimlico. I expect another solid performance on the stretch out to 12 furlongs.

Vino Rosso (#8) finished midpack in the Kentucky Derby, but two-back in New York he put forth a career best 102 BRIS Speed rating in the Wood Memorial (G2). His pedigree suggests he can run all day and trainer Todd Pletcher has had great success in the Belmont. His best will be good enough to earn a minor share.

Here is how I advise wagering on the Belmont if you like Justify to win:

$10 Exacta 1 with 7+9 = $20

$1 Trifecta Wheel 1 with 7+9 with 3+6+7+8+9+10 = $10

$1 Trifecta Wheel 1 with 3+6+7+8+9+10 with 7+9 = $10

$.50 Superfecta Wheel 1 with 7+9 with 3+4+7+8+9 with 3+4+6+7+8+9+10 = $20

Total Budget= $60