TRIPLE CROWN THREAT
Fred Faour: Picks and plays for Saturday's Belmont Stakes
Saturday’s Belmont Stakes will feature Justify attempting to become the 13th Triple Crown winner. He will face nine other mostly mediocre runners as he attempts to make history. A perfect 5-for-5 in his career, he will face a tough test trying to go a mile and a half.
He looks like the controlling pace of the race, and with that in mind he will be able to dictate to the others. That is a huge advantage. Unless a horse like Noble Indy pushes him early, he will have an easy trip.
He is still the most talented horse in the field. He regressed significantly in the Preakness, and still posted a 97 Beyer Speed figure. The only other horse to better that in any of his races is Vino Rosso, who posted a career-best 98 when he won the Wood Memorial. If Justify runs back to his prior numbers -- 103, 107, 101 and 104 -- he will be next to impossible to beat.
We might not have seen his best race yet. If that happens, he should roll.
His trainer, Bob Baffert, knows what it takes to win the Triple Crown, having done it with American Pharoah in 2015 after several near-misses.
His Preakness regression might be a sign that he is wearing down. He has had a lot of races in a short time, and the distance of the Belmont might prove to be too much.
While he has solid breeding, it does not scream a mile and a half. Several others might be better suited.
Favorites do not do well in this race. In the last 15 runnings, only two favorites have won the race -- Triple Crown winner American Pharoah (2015) and Afleet Alex (2005).
With all that in mind, we will be taking a shot at beating Justify. We could still cash if he wins, but if he runs out of the money, we will clean up.
The horse I like to upset the field is Hofburg, who was a decent 7th in the Derby despite trouble. He is bred to get the distance, his trainer knows how to win big races and he should be well rested. He also is lightly raced and has every right to improve. He will need to in order to win this, but he should be sitting on a big effort. We will be playing him across the board and keyed in exactas with the key contenders.
Here are our trifecta plays. We will box the top five picks ($30 based on a .50 cent ticket). So a .50 trifecta box 1-3-4-7-8.
We will also key Hofburg and Bravazo 1-2 in the trifectas. If Justify runs out of the mix, we are looking at a nice score. So a .50 tri 3-4 with 1-3-4-7-8 with ALL, and 1-3-4-7-8 with 3-4 with ALL. That will be $32 per bet or $64 total.
Good luck on your wagers!