BlackJack’s Belmont Stakes Mega Preview

Jun 09, 2018 05:20 PM EDT

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Highlights

  • With a Triple Crown on the line, Justify is the favorite at Belmont on Saturday.
  • It’s very hard to win the Belmont after the Preakness, so will this hill be too steep for Bob Baffert and his undefeated thoroughbred? 
  • Of the horses that could ruin the party, I like Hofburg and Vino Rosso.

The Belmont Stakes. The final jewel of the Triple Crown. Big Sandy. The Test of the Champion. You’ll hear all of these things mentioned on Saturday, and they’re all true. This is the hardest — and longest — race any of these horses will likely run in their entire careers.

If the Preakness was the same distance as the Belmont, we would not be talking about a potential Triple Crown winner, because Justify would have been beaten. The question is, has he rebounded and rested enough in the three weeks since the Preakness to tackle this track and the horses that seek to knock him off his pedestal? Maybe even more pertinent is the question of whether Justify is a great horse or an all-time legend. And it just so happens that yours truly will be in attendance, so keep an eye on our social media handles for BlackJack live from the track.

#1 Justify (4-5)

Justify is clearly an amazing horse, and he’s shown it by winning every race he has started. The Derby was run at an extremely fast pace, and it was impressive that he was still able to win easily despite being so close to the lead on a sloppy track. That race took a lot out of him, as we saw him regress in the Preakness where he was tested and had to battle to stay up on the wire on another wet track. By the end of the race, he had the look of a horse who was starting to tire and may be due for an off day. This field is a lot tougher than the one in the Preakness, and he is facing horses who are well-rested and primed to run their best races yet. On top of that, the 1.5-mile Belmont is a full quarter-mile longer than any of these horses have run in their careers. Bob Baffert is the best in the game for Triple Crown races, so he certainly has a fighting chance, especially with Mike Smith in the saddle. Baffert-trained American Pharoah led him to the Triple Crown, but this field is considerably tougher than that one was. This Saturday we see if Justify is a superstar like American Pharoah was.




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