Posted on: June 7, 2022, 02:33h.
Last updated on: June 7, 2022, 04:37h.
Rich Strike won’t have to wait until Friday to see if he’s eligible to run in Saturday’s Belmont Stakes. On Tuesday, the Kentucky Derby winner was the first horse pulled in the post position draw for the final leg of the Triple Crown.
The colt trained by Eric Reed drew the fourth gate in the mile-and-a-half Belmont, which features a field of eight. After winning the Kentucky Derby as an 80-1 shot at Churchill Downs five weeks ago, oddsmakers at Belmont Park in New York gave him 7-2 morning-line odds. That made him the third choice, for now.
Rich Strike was an also-eligible for the Derby because of other entries earning more qualifying points. But Reed kept him as an also-eligible in case a horse was scratched. It wasn’t until moments before the final deadline on Friday morning that a scratch got him in the race. Despite starting from the far outside gate and being in 18th place and 17 lengths back after a half-mile, jockey Sonny Leon guided Rich Strike through traffic along the rail to pull off the shocking upset.
The Belmont goes a quarter-mile longer than the Derby. However, Reed said after Tuesday’s draw he knows a similar performance won’t cut it on Saturday.
I don’t think the pace be near as fast,” Reed said. “He’s still probably going to drop back. That’s just his style of running. I don’t think he’ll drop back near as far, and I think the turn for home, if he’s close enough, he’ll have a real good shot at it. But it’s definitely not a race where you want to come from way, way back.”
Post time for the Belmont Stakes is 6:44 pm ET. NBC will broadcast the race.
Belmont Favorite Coming Off Big Win
The morning-line favorite is a horse that didn’t make any waves on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.
After winning his first two races, We the People finished seventh in April’s Arkansas Derby. That kept him from going to Louisville. But trainer Rodolphe Brisset shipped the 3-year-old sired by Constitution to Belmont. In the May 14 Peter Pan Stakes, We the People routed the field. He won going wire-to-wire and pulling away down the stretch to a 10-1/4-length win.
That type of running style is more conducive to success in the Belmont Stakes. That’s likely why oddsmakers made We the People the 2-1 favorite.
Brisset said he likes his colt’s performance in the month since that emphatic win.
“The way he has been acting is what you want to see,” said Brisset, who is racing in his first Belmont Stakes. “The way he has changed is really good. When you let him breeze and he breezes that good, it’s all a good sign.”
We the People will break from the inside gate.
Pletcher Fielding Two Graded Stakes Winners
Trainer Todd Pletcher has won the Belmont three times and entered two in this year’s field. That includes Mo Donegal, who won the Wood Memorial in April at nearby Aqueduct by chasing down Preakness winner Early Voting down the stretch.
Mo Donegal runs similarly to Rich Strike, and Pletcher’s colt was 19th a quarter-mile into the Derby and 18 lengths off a blistering pace before rallying to finish fifth. Pletcher said Saturday’s race likely won’t feature a similar pace.
“So, if they go :49 (in the opening half-mile), then he needs to be a little closer, as does anyone else that is going to have a shot,” Pletcher said.
Mo Donegal will break from the sixth gate and is the 5-2 second choice on the morning line. Pletcher’s other entry is Nest, a graded-stakes winning filly who finished second her last time out in the Kentucky Oaks. She will break third as she tries to become the fourth filly ever to win the Belmont and has 8-1 odds.
Circa Also Likes We the People
Out in Las Vegas, oddsmakers at Circa Sports also made We the People their early favorite at +220 in their fixed-odds market as of Tuesday afternoon. Mo Donegal is right behind at +235.
Rich Strike is also the third choice at Circa, but the colt’s odds are a little longer at +515. Creative Minister (6-1 ML), a Kenny McPeek-trained colt who won an allowance race on the Kentucky Derby undercard and came back two weeks later to finish third in the Preakness, is the fourth choice at +700. Nest is +900.
Others in the Belmont field include Barber Road (10-1 ML/+1000 Circa), Golden Glider (20-1/+2440), and Skippylongstocking (20-1/+2000).