It's the last and most grueling leg of the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes. Horse will need to be in top form to handle the 1 ½ mile marathon on Belmont's notorious main track, called the Big Sandy. Jockeys who've studied the history of the race will know that 13 of the last 15 winners were within one second of the leader at the half-mile marker (roughly 4.5 lengths behind at most). Not only will today's winner need endurance, he'll also need to be somewhat fleet of foot at the start.
Let's see which horses capable of keeping up early and giddying up late.
BOURBONIC (PP: 1 ML 15-1) is a slow poke out of the gate. He takes his time at the start, tries to save ground through the first half of the race and rally for the win. He'll be on of the fastest horses at the end, but could be too far behind, making it difficult for him to catch them all.
ESSENTIAL QUALITY (PP: ML 2-1) has never been more than 4 ½ lengths behind the leader after the half-mile call. In five of his six starts, he managed to move forward for the rest of the race with some of the top, late pace numbers this field has to offer. He fits the profile should be a factor, notwithstanding a troubled trip like he had in the Kentucky Derby.
ROMBAUER (PP: 3 ML 3-1) has moved closer to the lead in his last two starts and within the required 4 ½ lengths of the frontrunner. It's a hurdle he's cleared in three of his seven starts. He's facing a few more horses with early speed here and might have to run a little faster than he wants to be within one second of the pacesetter at the half. His late stride has improved in his last two runs. He'll need to be even better late today to catch the horses in front of him.
HOT ROD CHARLIE (PP: 4 ML 7/2) has never been outside of 4 ½ lengths off the lead after the first half-mile in his eight starts. He should be in the front half most of the way around the track and has enough late punch to maintain or modestly improve his position in the final strides. His resume says he needs to be close to the lead mid-way through the race to win.
FRANCE GO DE INA (PP: 5 ML 30-1) only raced one in the US, in the Preakness Stakes. He was third by 1 ½ lengths after the first half-mile and that was the best of it for him. He straight backwards, finishing sevenths and 17 lengths behind the winner, ROMBAUER. He must be worlds better here to have a chance.
KNOWN AGENDA (PP: 6 ML 6-1) last race was the Kentucky Derby and you have to throw that one out. He was on the rail, which hasn't won since 1986. He's not the fastest start and got shuffled back and had a very difficult trip. The outside post should help here. It's not for certain he'll be forwardly placed enough to keep within 4 ½ lengths from the front, sometimes he is and sometimes he isn't. Even if he is, he's only made up ground on the field in four of his seven starts.
ROCK YOUR WORLD (PP: 7 ML 9/2) should be one the pacesetters in the 2021 Belmont Stakes. In fact, he could be the one all the others have to catch. The first half-mile requirement should not be an issue. In two of his first three starts he extended his late lead in heading to the winners' circle. The longer the race, the wider the winning margin. Like KNOWN AGENDA, you have to toss his Derby effort thanks to an awful beginning. He has a chance to be take them from wire to wire.
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OVERTOOK (PP: 8 ML 20-1) will probably keep BOURBONIC company at the back of the pack. He does pack a little bit of a late punch, but his numbers say he'll be too far off the pace to make it to the wire first. To have a chance, he'll need to be closer to the front than he is accustomed to being, which could take away some of his late energy.
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