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The 2018 Belmont Stakes will be broadcast live on Saturday, June 9 at 6:37 PM ET on NBC where Justify will attempt to win the Belmont and thereby clinch the rare Triple Crown of thoroughbred racing. But let’s take a look at some new shooters that haven’t raced in either the Kentucky Derby or Preakness that could be worthy of consideration.
Justify silenced the critics that said the 3-year-old colt was not worthy of his chalky status as a 2/5 Preakness favorite even after devouring the track at Churchill Downs just a few weeks before. Although his performance in the second leg of the Triple Crown wasn’t nearly as dominant as his 2½ length romp at the Kentucky Derby, it was good enough to overwhelm top contender Good Magic and stave off a hard-charging Bravazo down the stretch for a half-length victory.
At the Belmont Stakes, Justify will not have to contend with the likes of Audible, who challenged him in the Derby, or Good Magic, whose ownership can no longer justify trying to beat Justify. Quite honestly, those two would have been Justify’s chief competition, and despite the fact that neither could defeat him in the mud perhaps if the Belmont sported a dry track this year then maybe the results could be different? Unfortunately, we will never know as those entries have been ruled out, but familiar faces Bravazo (6th Derby, 2nd Preakness), Hofburg (7th Derby), Tenfold (3rd Preakness), Free Drop Billy (16th Derby), Noble Indy (17th Derby) and Vino Rosso (9th Derby) will all be vying to spoil Justify’s Triple Crown aspirations.
New Kids in Town
There will be horseflesh in the Belmont that hasn’t been seen at either the Kentucky Derby or the Preakness. Let’s take a look at the new shooters and see if any have merit.
Gronkowski – Named after All-world tight end Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots and a stake of which is owned by the eponymous football player, Gronkowski suffered an infection before the Derby but has now been shipped from Britain and has logged his first official workout on American soil. The colt has won four of his six races but is a longshot to knock off the big boys at the Belmont. After surfing on over to Sportsbook Review, my source for all things sports gambling related, including horse racing picks and odds being offered by the best online sportsbooks in the world, I have found that Gronkowski is currently about a 35-1 shot and will likely follow as just the latest in a long line of European horses to fail on the grand American stage.
Blended Citizen – Like Gronkowski, Blended Citizen was a scratch in the Kentucky Derby but not due to illness but rather as an also-eligible that didn’t make the cut. However, following the Derby snub, Blended Citizen triumphed in the Grade 3 Peter Pan Stakes held 10 days later at Belmont by roaring from the outside to capture a 1½ length win and merit careful consideration for the 1½ mile Belmont test. Blended Citizen is expected to have odds of somewhere in the vicinity of 14-1 as the race approaches.
Restoring Hope – Another Bob Baffert trained horse, Restoring Hope, will provide enough speed to get Justify’s juices running. As the legendary trainer quipped, “I brought my own rabbit” when discussing the newest entry to the field. Restoring Hope came second in the Grade 2 Wood Memorial but was 12th at a sloppy track in the Pat Day Mile. Expectations are tempered for this novice 3-year-old, but he could set the pace early.