The 154th running of the Belmont Stakes on June 11 will tell us a little something about the three year old division. Always at the forefront this time of year, the 2022 class of sophomores appears to be rather balanced. The mile and a half “test of a champion” is certainly a race that can make a horse. With eight talented runners looking for a share of the $1.5 million in purse money, this sashay around Big Sandy looks to be very competitive.
Let’s take a moment to look at the entrants, their post position and morning line. Most importantly, however, we will examine the opportunity before them.
1 We The People (2-1)- The morning line favorite is not a horse that ran in either of the previous Triple Crown races…huh ??? Trained by Rodolphe Brisset, this son of Constitution has won 3 of 4 lifetime starts and has a chance to prove his gate to wire romp in the Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park on May 14 was not a fluke. Based on that performance (10 ¼ length win) and with Flavien Prat aboard, he has to be considered a real player in this one.
2 Skippylongstocking (20-1)- Trained by Saffie Joseph, this son of Exaggerator has started 5 times this year with only one allowance win. A fifth place finish in the Preakness last out provides a glimpse of hope for Skippy. Does he belong at this level right now? We are not so sure, but this is his opportunity to prove he does.
3 Nest (8-1)- A filly in the Belmont Stakes?…It’s crystal clear she has a chance to prove that girls rule. Trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by Jose Ortiz, she’s coming in off a second place finish in the Kentucky Oaks. Six career stats have yielded four wins, a second and a third. Pedigree says distance is not a problem. The last time a female beat the boys in the Belmont was 2007 when a Todd Pletcher trainee named Rags to Riches did it. We REALLY like her chances in this one.
4 Rich Strike (7-2)-The Kentucky Derby winner will not go off at 80-1 in this one. Is this son of Keen Ice for real or is just a one hit wonder? The Belmont is an opportunity to validate a magnificent run on the first Saturday in May. Will he have enough pace to run into? It will not be super-hot in this one and a much smaller field makes navigation from the back easier. We don’t think he wins, but it will be very interesting to see how he performs.
5 Creative Minister (6-1)-Unraced as a two-year old, this son of Creative Cause was a strong third in the Preakness in his last start. He too wants to prove he belongs in the upper echelon of three-year old males. Trainer Kenny McPeek authored one of the biggest upsets in Belmont history (Sarava 70-1 in 2002). This wouldn’t be nearly that kind of upset but the Minister has a chance to be there at the end.
6 Mo Donegal (5-2) Late running son of Uncle Mo seems to check most of the boxes for this race. A slow start in the Kentucky Derby left him too far back early. He was running late but finished a fast closing fifth. Trainer Todd Pletcher has won three times (2007, 2013,2016) and jockey Irad Ortiz wins a lot. A good stalking trip can give him an opportunity to provide primary owner Donegal racing with a Belmont victory.
7 Golden Glider (20-1) A distant second place finish in the Peter Pan showed trainer Mark Casse enough to give this son of Ghostzapper a shot here. Four consecutive starts in Stakes company means he is battle tested, but really needs to step forward here. With a real chance to prove Casse’s confidence is valid, a Glide to the finish would be surprising, but not impossible.
8 Barber Road (10-1) Is this the potential wise guy horse in the race? This John Ortiz son of Race Day has made six consecutive starts in Stakes races but never been better than second. He was 17th at the top of the stretch in the Kentucky Derby and finished sixth. Jockey Joel Rosario has won the Belmont twice (2014, 2019) with the latest being an upset ride on longshot Sir Winston. This is his chance to prove this Road is more than a Stakes also-ran. Might be one to throw in your exotics.