The Belmont Stakes is the third and final leg of the Triple Crown, which runs at Belmont Park this Saturday.
There won’t be a Triple Crown winner this year. In fact, no runner will have competed in all three races. However, it should still be an exciting contest between some of the best three-year-olds in the land.
The Michael McCarthy-trained runner came into the public eye when winning the Preakness Stakes. It’s a completely different race in the Belmont Stakes, but he demands attention based on that performance.
He is a son of Twirling Candy who stalked the hot speed in the Preakness Stakes to kick clear late. McCarthy had been happy dropping him off the pace and coming into the race late, but the change in tactics have worked a treat.
Rombauer sits in a stalking role as the 3-1 second choice and it could pay off again. We’re confused as to why he missed the Kentucky Derby, as the distance should have suited. However, he could take the final two legs.
— BloodHorse (@BloodHorse) May 28, 2021
One huge concern is jockey Flavien Prat riding Hot Rod Charlie. Hopping off the back of a Preakness winner is a big call, but his team had already committed to riding Hot Rod Charlie before the Preakness.
“We committed after the Derby to the Belmont with Hot Rod Charlie, and then a few days later, the opportunity came up to ride Rombauer in the Preakness and he won,” Prat’s manager Brad Pegram told Horse Racing Nation. “But we had already made a commitment to the Belmont with Hot Rod Charlie.”
McCarty would have loved Prat to retain the ride, but John Velazquez is a suitable replacement.
“I’m not sure if ‘disappointed’ is the right word. I found out soon after the Preakness that Flavien’s agent had given a call to the connections of Hot Rod Charlie the Monday before the Preakness and they sort of mentioned that they would see how things panned out in the ensuing days,” he said. “It would have been nice to get Flavien back in the saddle. Obviously, there is a wonderful chemistry between horse and rider. But I’m over the moon to have John Velazquez.”
Rombauer is on the second line of betting at +375 in Belmont Stakes betting markets, so he hasn’t been missed by bettors.
Essential Quality (+225)
The Brad Cox-trained colt suffered his first defeat in the Kentucky Derby, but he should be tough to beat here.
He is a five-time winner and not everything went his way in the Derby. Jockey Luis Saez was content with placing him in a wide position but ensured Essential Quality traveled more ground than most of the field.
Essential Quality outside Bonny South: 12.1 23.4 46.3 59.2/112.4. pic.twitter.com/u8njMTwPmu
— Kevin Kerstein (@HorseRacingKK) May 29, 2021
Getting your horse into clear running is one thing, but traveling wide throughout the race is a detriment to its chances. He shouldn’t be caught wide in the Belmont Stakes as the field is much smaller.
There has been strong money for the son of Tapit and he looks set to handle the distance. Not every runner can see out the 1½ mile journey and it takes a tough grinding horse to get it done. Essential Quality fits the bill and we wouldn’t overlook the +225 available.
Rock Your World (+425)
We feel as though Rock Your World deserves another chance after getting no chance in the Derby.
The John Sadler-trained runner was bumped at the start and never had a chance. However, he missed the Preakness Stakes in preparation for this race and it should have done him the world of good.
He won the Santa Anita Derby by over four lengths when beating Derby winner Medina Spirit, so the form lines are there and he just needs to prove it on the big stage.
Rock Your World is the forgotten runner of this field and getting +425 in early betting markets is a price worth taking.