CRAWFORD | Justify gets post No. 1 for Belmont, is 4-5 favorite
Triple Crown hopeful Justify has drawn the rail and heads into the Belmont Stakes as a 4-5 favorite.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Triple Crown hopeful Justify is the 4-5 morning line favorite and will break from post No. 1 in Saturday’s Belmont Stakes.
If the chestnut son of Scat Daddy is to become the 13th winner of the Triple Crown, he’ll have to make history against 10 competitors in the 1 ½-mile test.
No Triple Crown winner has beaten more than seven competitors in the Belmont, and the race Saturday has attracted a field of 10, including five beaten rivals from the Kentucky Derby.
"I never like to draw the rail, but my horses seem to live in it," said Baffert, who also has entered 30-1 longshot Restoring Hope in the race. ". . . I'd rather be somewhere else, but we have it, we can't change it, so let's make the most of it."
The race features five trainers who have won the Belmont a total of 11 times, including four-time winner D. Wayne Lukas, whose Preakness runner-up Bravazo is the only colt other than Justify to contest all three races of this year’s Triple Crown, and three-time winner Todd Pletcher, who will saddle Vino Rosso and Noble Indy.
Hofburg, trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, is the second choice in the morning line at 9-1. Mott won the 2016 Belmont with Creator.
"We've had good time to recover from the Derby, which probably makes it a bigger challenge for Justify," said Mott of Hofburg, who has been training at Saratoga since his hard-luck seventh-place Derby finish. "I don't think there's any doubt about it. We didn't hit the board in the Derby and didn't see any big advantage to running in the Preakness. We just pointed for the Belmont. We have to do what's best for us, and that's what we did."
Bravazo, fifth in the Derby, is the third choice at 8-1, along with Vino Rosso, who finished ninth in the Derby. Both said it would take some luck to knock Justify from his Triple Crown track.
"I think, like all of us, we need Justify to wake up on the wrong side of the bed to have a chance," said Pletcher, who has had success skipping the Preakness to rest up for the Belmont.
Lukas, whose colt has been training at Churchill Downs with Justify, said he hasn't seen anything not to like about the favorite.
"I don't know why I do that to myself," Lukas quipped. "I could just stay back in the tack room and say that none of them are any good. . . . My horse is pretty tough. But we're taking on Goliath, you know. This is not the junior prom we're dealing with. We're going to have a tough chore. I don't see any chinks in the armor. I think we had a chance to beat Justify in the Preakness. Now he's going to be really tough. I think it's a lot tougher order to beat him now."
The Belmont draw was held at Citi Field before a baseball game between the New York Mets and Baltimore Orioles. Baffert, who won the Triple Crown with American’s Pharoah’s 2015 Belmont victory, attended the draw before throwing out the game’s ceremonial first pitch.
Complete draw with morning-line odds:
1. Justify 4-5
2. Free Drop Billy 30-1
3. Bravazo 8-1
4. Hofburg 9-2
5. Restoring Hope 30-1
6. Gronkowski 12-1
7. Tenfold 12-1
8. Vino Rosso 8-1
9. Noble Indy 30-1
10. Blended Citizen 15-1
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