BELMONT: Sizing up the field for final leg of Triple Crown


By Richard Roseblatt - AP Racing Writer



By Richard Roseblatt

AP Racing Writer

NEW YORK — Preakness winner Exaggerator is the 9-5 morning-line favorite in a field of 13 3-year-olds for the 148th running of the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes. A look at how the field shapes up for Saturday’s final leg of the Triple Crown (horses listed by post position, with trainer, jockey, analysis, morning-line odds):

1. GOVERNOR MALIBU (Christophe Clement, Joel Rosario): Peter Pan runner-up should not be forgotten … In 2014, Clement and Rosario teamed up to win Peter Pan and the Belmont, spoiling California Chrome’s Triple try with Tonalist … Colt has finished in top 3 in all seven career starts … Odds: 12-1.

2. DESTIN (Todd Pletcher, Javier Castellano): A respectable sixth in Derby, skipped Preakness … One of few who could be near lead early on if top rider Castellano chooses … Pletcher seeking third Belmont win. … Odds: 6-1.

3. CHERRY WINE (Dale Romans, Corey Lanerie): Made impressive stretch run to nip Derby winner Nyquist for second in Preakness … One of two Romans horses that likes to make huge late run, but plans are to be not so far back this time … Odds: 8-1.

4. SUDDENBREAKINGNEWS (Donnie Von Hemel, Mike Smith): Could be on verge of breakthrough win … Trainer believes longer distance is asset for closer who ran fifth in the 1 1/4-mile Derby, and second in the 1 1/8-mile Arkansas Derby … Jockey change to Hall of Famer with two Belmont wins … Odds: 10-1.

5. STRADIVARI (Todd Pletcher, John Velazquez): Rugged start in Preakness in stakes debut, but otherwise ran well in finishing fourth … Could be an early pacesetter, and dictate strategy if Gettysburg doesn’t make grade … Odds: 5-1.

6. GETTYSBURG (Steve Asmussen, Paco Lopez): Speedy colt was late entry by WinStar Farm to help pick up early slow pace that could work against closers such as Creator and Exaggerator, both WinStar connections. Farm even shifted trainers from Pletcher to Asmussen … Entry should ensure quicker pace in 1 ½-mile race, but little chance to win … Odds: 30-1.

7. SEEKING THE SOUL (Dallas Stewart, Florent Geroux): With this maiden winner and his other one, Forever d’Oro, owner Charles Fipke searching for diamond in rough … Hard to get worked up over either of these colts … Odds: 30-1.

8. FOREVER D’ORO (Dallas Stewart, Jose Ortiz): Broke maiden in third career start at Belmont on May 29 … If nothing else, there’s distance pedigree that could be on his side … Odds: 30-1.

9. TROJAN NATION (Paddy Gallagher, Aaron Gryder): Why not? Despite finishing nearly 27 lengths behind Nyquist in Derby, he did finish second in Wood at odds of 81-1 … Next win would be his first … Odds: 30-1.

10. LANI (Mikio Matsunaga, Yutaka Take): 11th in Derby, sixth in Preakness, is there a top 3 finish for gray colt before heading back to Japan? … Trainer says colt is as relaxed and training as well as possible at Belmont … Still hard to see him challenging, but crazier things have happened … Odds: 20-1.

11. EXAGGERTAOR (Keith Desormeaux, Kent Desormeaux): Deserving favorite seemingly getting better with each race … Won Preakness with strong stretch run in the slop after running second to Nyquist in Derby … Wet track would be an advantage … Odds: 9-5.

12. BRODY’S CAUSE (Dale Romans, Luis Saez): Despite seventh-place Derby finish, Romans not disappointed with effort … Skipped Preakness … If slow pace develops, look for come-from-behind colt to be closer to lead than usual … beat Exaggerator in Breeders’ Futurity last year … Odds: 20-1.

13. CREATOR (Steve Asmussen, Irad Ortiz, Jr.): Jockey change to one of nation’s top riders also familiar with Belmont could help. … Won Arkansas Derby but ran troubled 13th in Derby under Ricardo Santana … Yet another closer who could make this finish an interesting one … Celebrity chef Bobby Flay became part owner on Wednesday … Odds: 10-1.

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PICKS: Creator, Exaggerator, Stradivari.

By Richard Roseblatt

AP Racing Writer

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