2021 Belmont Stakes Tipsheet

June 2nd, 2021

The Triple Crown wraps up on Saturday with the $1.5 million Belmont (G1) at Belmont Park. The historic 1 1/2-mile classic has drawn a competitive field of eight horses to the mix, led by Preakness (G1) winner Rombauer and Kentucky Derby (G1) superfecta finishers Hot Rod Charlie and Essential Quality.

Belmont picks

  • #3 Rombauer
  • #4 Hot Rod Charlie
  • #6 Known Agenda
  • #7 Rock Your World

Belmont wagers

Belmont contenders

#1 Bourbonic won the Wood Memorial (G2) with a big rally from last place, but the Wood wasn’t the fastest race on paper, and Bourbonic subsequently failed to challenge when finishing 13th in the Kentucky Derby. His stretch-running style may leave him with too much ground to close in a mostly paceless edition of the Belmont.

#2 Essential Quality won his first five starts in fine fashion before finishing fourth as the favorite in the Kentucky Derby. A wide trip surely compromised his chances, since he was only beaten a length after running between 5 1/2 lengths and 8 1/2 lengths farther than the top three finishers. But Essential Quality had every chance to catch up down the lane and flattened out when it counted, so part of me wonders if the 1 1/4-mile distance stretched the limits of his stamina. Tackling 1 1/2 miles in the Belmont is a question mark.

#3 Rombauer made a terrific visual impression in the Preakness, storming home from sixth place to score by 3 1/2 lengths. The improving son of Twirling Candy finished fast down the homestretch and posted a career-best 103 Brisnet Speed rating, the highest figure in the Belmont field. A winner on dirt, turf, and synthetic, Rombauer has improved by leaps and bounds this season and might only now be reaching his peak.

#4 Hot Rod Charlie hasn’t missed the trifecta in five starts running long on dirt, most recently coming home third by a length in the Kentucky Derby. Previously victorious over a quality field in the Louisiana Derby (G2), Hot Rod Charlie is versatile in terms of running style, showing the ability to successfully set the pace or rally from midpack as necessary. The son of 2013 Belmont runner-up Oxbow has a grinding style well-suited to success over 1 1/2 miles in the Belmont.

#5 France Go de Ina tracked a fast pace in the Preakness before weakening to finish seventh in his U.S. debut. This wasn’t a bad effort, considering France Go de Ina had taken a circuitous traveling route to reach the second jewel of the Triple Crown. The Japan-based colt has remained stateside since the Preakness and might be poised for an improved effort in his second U.S. start, especially since his pedigree (by Will Take Charge out of a Curlin mare) is geared strongly toward success over 1 1/2 miles.

#6 Known Agenda got shuffled too far off the pace in the Kentucky Derby before rallying mildly through some traffic to finish ninth. I’m inclined to view this performance in a positive light. Known Agenda had previously dominated the Florida Derby (G1) with a fast finish from midpack, and trainer Todd Pletcher has already won the Belmont three times, including twice with Kentucky Derby also-rans. With a modest pace expected in the Belmont, Known Agenda can stick closer to the lead than in the Derby and finish strongly down the stretch.

#7 Rock Your World suffered a poor start in the Kentucky Derby and found himself back in 10th place, a challenging position for a colt accustomed to racing up and on the pace. He’d previously led all the way to defeat a strong field in the Santa Anita Derby (G1), earning a 102 Brisnet Speed rating. Rock Your World is the only true speed horse in the Belmont field and figures to secure an uncontested lead, setting the stage for a big rebound.

#8 Overtook wasn’t disgraced in the Peter Pan (G3) at Belmont four weeks ago, rallying from behind a slow pace to finish third. He comes in a bit light from a Brisnet Speed rating perspective, but as a son of Curlin out of the Grade 1-winning A.P. Indy mare Got Lucky, Overtook has the breeding to excel over 1 1/2 miles. He could be the type to grind out a top-four finish at impressive odds.