The ever-changing landscape of American horse racing continues as the field prepares for the Belmont Stakes.
It’s by no means a typical Belmont Stakes field, which is disappointing, but it’s also intriguing from a horse racing odds point of view.
The 2022 Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike lines up but Mo Donegal is the early betting favorite at the sportsbook.
Derby Winner Works Well
There was some controversy about Rich Strike skipping The Preakness and losing all chance of completing the Triple Crown. However, it might have been a smart move in the long run.
The upset Derby winner looks in fine fettle for the Belmont Stakes on June 11. He ran excellent sectionals at Churchill Downs, which pleased trainer Eric Reed.
“(We were) surprised when we saw the final time and how quick he actually went and galloped out,” Reed told BloodHorse. “This was a lot more (nerve-wracking) than the Derby, I’ll tell you that. People don’t believe it, but it was a big relief when he pulled up and came home and everything was good.”
The sportsbook has Rich Strike on the second line of betting at +400, and given his win in the Kentucky Derby, he should enjoy running over this distance.
He was strong to the line along the inside of runners and it’s not a tough Belmont Stakes field.
Pletcher Duo Going Through Paces
Most of the early money has come for current +250 favorite Mo Donegal, who finished fifth in the Kentucky Derby but he could have finished closer.
The race didn’t go to plan for the son of Uncle Mo, who entered the Derby on the back of a Wood Memorial victory.
“He hopped at the start. I didn’t anticipate that we would be a part of the pace, but I also didn’t want to be 19th going around the first turn either. He stood in the gate a long time and he’s a well-behaved horse. He got a little quiet and just didn’t jump and it compromised his position,” Pletcher said.
Mo Donegal was one of our best value picks for the Derby, so we’re not jumping off his back for the Belmont Stakes. Horse racing betting markets have him on the shorter side of value but the race is there for the taking.
Stablemate Nest is given a chance at +900. She won the Ashland at Keeneland before finishing second behind star filly Secret Oath in the Kentucky Oaks.
Taking on the boys is never easy but she had to make a six-wide move in the Oaks, so she could have finished much closer.
Jockey Jose Ortiz was pleased with her work and he could partner the filly on race day.
“Jose said the further they went, the better she got,” said Pletcher, who added there is a “good possibility” that Ortiz could ride if she runs in the Belmont. When he asked her to keep galloping out, she jumped right underneath him. It was what we were expecting to see, but it was good to see all the same.
We the People Firms
We the People isn’t a household name in horse racing but the Winstar Thoroughbreds colt has been heavily backed.
He owns three wins from four starts and his only defeat came when running seventh in the Arkansas Derby behind Cyberknife.
Running third in that race was Secret Oath, so the form has been franked somewhat and We the People has since won the Grade III Peter Pan at Belmont.
Having winning experience on the track helps and he has firmed onto the second line of betting with Rich Strike, which is some betting move.
Rich Strike has more exposed form and a Derby win to his name, so bettors must be confident with We the People.