Mucciolo: How I will bet the Belmont Stakes
A well-matched field of eight three-year-olds will take on the daunting task of going 1 1/2 miles at Belmont Park in Saturday’s $1.5 million Belmont S. (G1). The "Test of the Champion" attracted an excellent cast in what appears to be a fine betting opportunity.
My top pick is Florida Derby (G1) victor #6 Known Agenda (6-1). Trained by three-time Belmont winner Todd Pletcher, the well-bred son of Curlin lost all chance when drawing the rail for the Kentucky Derby (G1), but will find the dynamic of this race more to his liking.
Known Agenda is somewhat versatile in his running style, and we will not find him that far back at any stage of the 1 1/2-mile test on Saturday. The chestnut has really turned the corner since adding blinkers three starts back, and he races for a conditioner who obviously has the recipe for Belmont success.
In a contest where the separation between the main contenders is slight, the event often becomes a jockey's race. And there is not a better option available than Irad Ortiz, who has become a dominant force in the Empire State—and elsewhere—in recent years. His experience and knowledge of the vast Belmont strip can’t be underestimated.
Preakness S. (G1) star #3 Rombauer (3-1) looms a major threat with anything resembling his latest encounter for former Pletcher assistant Michael McCarthy. The peaking colt has moved forward in each 2021 outing to date, and picking up Belmont legend John Velazquez only adds to his appeal. Rombauer is the main threat to my top pick, and I will use him on top in some of my vertical plays, too.
I am not generally big on having "saver" bets, but I'll make an exception in the Belmont. If #7 Rock Your World (9-2) can duplicate his Santa Anita Derby (G1) effort, when he easily led throughout before galloping out in monstrous fashion after the wire, then the son of Candy Ride will be very tough to beat. I view the talented dark bay as something of an all-or-nothing candidate in the Belmont, while acknowledging that he can possibly run his rivals off their feet with a top performance on Saturday. Rock Your World isn't my main focus in the wagering, but I can’t ignore his fine attributes, either.