- Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike is the headliner in Saturday’s Belmont Stakes
- Mo Donegal and We the People are the early favorites in The Test of Champions
- How do we get value when betting the final leg of the Triple Crown?
When Rich Strike won the Kentucky Derby it was among the biggest upsets in Triple Crown history. It was also a shocker when the Derby winner opted against running in the Preakness Stakes. Now Rich Strike is back. The unheralded former claimer may enjoy Saturday’s mile-and-a-half Belmont Stakes. Read on to see if Rick Strike is among our best Belmont Stakes expert picks.
Because the Kentucky Derby often has a field of 20, there usually is ample pace. This year the first quarter-mile was the fastest in Derby history, and that benefited Rich Strike. He saved ground early and waited for the speed to collapse. The Preakness Stakes was the opposite, no early tempo, and Early Voting went wire-to-wire. After the second Triple Crown race, we thought the Belmont may lack speed horses. The current Belmont Stakes odds indeed suggest several of the top betting choices prefer to come from off the pace.
Belmont Stakes Expert Picks
Mo Donegal was +1000 (or 10/1 in the fractional format you sometimes see for horse racing) in Louisville and finished fifth after having his chances compromised when he hesitated at the start and then was pinned on the rail with several rivals squeezing down on him. Rich Strike was +8100 (81/1) at Churchill Downs. The only other horse to run in the Derby and who is competing at the Belmont is Barber Road. At +6000 (60/1) he finished sixth in the Run for the Roses.
Belmont Stakes betting sites can be really valuable because handicapping the last Triple Crown race is a challenge. None of the horses have ever run this far before. Some are running more races on a shorter timetable than they are used to. This is one of the biggest horse races in the US, and knowing your options, and understanding horse racing bet types gives you the best opportunity to cash.
As always, there is a fine line between picking the winner for your picks to win the Belmont and getting the best value. It is reasonable to think that We the People, the +200 (2/1) Belmont favorite, is the most likely winner. However, in order to make We the People a good bet, you need to think he would win this particular race more than a third of the time. On the other hand, at +1000 (10/1) Barber Road needs to win just one of 10 hypothetical runnings to be a good value.
Night and Day in Louisville
Watch the first 10 seconds of this year’s Kentucky Derby twice. First focus on the horse on the extreme outside. Rich Strike gets away cleanly, and smoothly bolts towards the inside, saving ground, relaxed, and letting the early sprinters do their thing at a ridiculous clip. On second viewing, watch the rail horse. Mo Donegal hops up at the start, and then is behind, gets pinched towards the fence, and is effectively finished.
While Big Brown won the 2008 Run for the Roses from the outside gate, nobody has won from post position one since Ferdinand in 1986. Hats off to Rich Strike, but Mo Donegal gets a mulligan, and he still rallied nicely to finish fifth.
There is a reason Rich Strike was a huge longshot in Louisville. Before the Derby, he had won once in seven races and was coming off three ho-hum efforts on a synthetic course. Virtually nobody knew who his trainer, or jockey was. Rich Strike is +350 (7/2) this weekend in the Big Apple.
Mo Donegal entered the Derby following an impressive win in New York’s Wood Memorial Stakes and is among the Belmont contenders.
He rallied to get by Early Voting in the final strides. Previously, Mo Donegal finished third in a major Derby prep in Florida and beat Zandon in the Remsen Stakes.
As for Barber Road, he went wide on both turns at Churchill Downs and has consistently looked good, not great. He finished second or third in Derby preps throughout the winter and spring. He won two lower level races in 2021.
No Derby, No Problem
There is a perception that the best three-year-olds run in the Kentucky Derby. Early Voting was the latest to prove that wrong, skipping Louisville, and winning the Preakness. Sometimes there is betting value when you don’t have the name recognition that the Derby brings.
We the People, with current Belmont odds of (+200 or 2/1) didn’t qualify for the Derby and had only run three times before last month’s Peter Pan Stakes.
A lot like Early Voting, he seems to have early speed in a race that may lack pace, and he just won at Belmont Park. That said, he ran poorly facing this caliber of competition in the Arkansas Derby. Maybe he got too hot that day? He has three wins in four starts.
Creative Minister (+600 or 6/1) won on Derby Day at Churchill Downs, and then came back to finish third at the Preakness.
Three races in five weeks is a lot. Creative Minister could sit a perfect trip, just off the pace. If he is good enough he could get the first opportunity to run by We the People in the long stretch at Belmont.
Nest (+800 or 8/1) was the Kentucky Oaks favorite. She ran well, finishing second to Secret Oath.
Girls running against boys is tough. Secret Oath finished fourth in the Preakness. That said, trainer Todd Pletcher is among the best in the business. He has won the Belmont three times, including with filly Rags to Riches in 2007. He also trains Mo Donegal.
Belmont Stakes Best Bets
Mo Donegal is the most likely winner for our Belmont Stakes expert picks, and since he isn’t the favorite there is value on him. If you are looking for a bigger price for your pick to win the Belmont, Nest is a longshot with a legitimate chance to win or at very least hit the board.