2021 Belmont Stakes Picks and Analysis
Belmont Stakes-G1, Race 11, Belmont Park, Saturday, June 5, 2021
3-Year-Olds. Distance: 1 1/2-miles. Surface: Dirt. Purse: $1.5 Million
2021 Belmont Stakes Picks
- Hot Rod Charlie
- Essential Quality
- Rock Your World
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2021 Belmont Stakes Analysis
Our top two picks for the 2021 Belmont Stakes were made about five minutes after the Kentucky Derby, assuming neither one of them were going to run back in the Preakness, and they didn’t.
Our top pick in the Kentucky Derby, Hot Rod Charlie, had just enough early trouble to cost him being in the win photo in the Derby and he finished third. He was a good, solid pick in the Derby and we weren’t wrong about him.
Our third choice in the Kentucky Derby was Essential Quality and he finished a good fourth after bumping at the start and racing wide throughout. He also could have finished in the win photo with a better trip, and the only reason we picked him third in the Derby was because he was coming off what looked like a taxing effort to win the Blue Grass in his previous start.
Now both Hot Rod Charlie and Essential Quality are fresh and ready to roll in the 153rd running of the Belmont Stakes after five weeks off and we’re expecting a replay of 2020 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile-G1, in which they ran 1-2 with Essential Quality on top.
Both Essential Quality and Hot Rod Charlie should be ready to run their best races in the Belmont Stakes and we’re not quite sure which one is the better horse. Essential Quality beat Hot Rod Charlie in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last year but Charlie edged his rival in the Kentucky Derby. The decision regarding who to bet on is easier.
Essential Quality will likely be 2-1 or less in the Belmont Stakes, and Hot Rod Charlie should go off at 7/2 or better. If we consider them about equal on talent and heart, that makes Hot Rod Charlie the overlay, and the win bet.
Both Essential Quality and Hot Rod Charlie can stay close to any pace and still fire down the lane. We’re going to assume they can get the distance, take over as a tandem somewhere on the final turn and duel down the stretch.
Santa Anita Derby winner Rock Your World has been listed at 9/2 on the morning line for the Belmont and he could take more money than that from bettors thinking he can wire the field like he did the Santa Anita Derby. He had a poor start in the Kentucky Derby and was also bumped hard, but the fact that he gave up the ghost and made no late run after stalking from the outside makes us a little leery.
Rock Your World is fresh, he hasn’t run since the Derby and he may be able to clear to the lead, but his class is still relatively unproven, regardless of his Santa Anita Derby win, and he’s going to have to be a serious horse to turn back our top two picks.
Preakness Stakes winner Rombauer has been listed at 3-1 on the morning line, and while he is improving and did run well to win the Preakness, we’re guessing he passed a couple of tired horses to win that race. He also loses jockey Flavien Prat, who chose to ride Hot Rod Charlie instead, but he does pick up Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez. Still, at 3-1 on the morning line, his odds are not enticing.
Rombauer also had help in the Preakness from France Go de Ina, who made an early move in that race and forced the front runners, including favorite Medina Spirit, to play their hands too early. France Go de Ina is back again for the Belmont but we simply can’t find anything to like about his current form.
We picked Known Agenda to run second in the Kentucky Derby hoping top jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. could help him negotiate a good trip from Post 1, and Ortiz did his job, but this horse still looked like he was lost in space. He’s basically done all his developing on his own and he simply galloped around in the Derby. He does have some talent and did finish ninth in the Kentucky Derby without really breaking a sweat. Listed at 6-1 on the morning line, he gets a new yet-to-be-determined rider for this race, as Ortiz is injured, but he will need an all-out duel on the final turn to set up his rally.
Overtook is the stablemate of Known Agenda and comes into this race off third place finishes in the Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont and the Withers at Aqueduct. Listed at 20-1 on the morning line, he should probably be higher odds than that as he moves up in class for this, but he does get blinkers on.
Wood Memorial winner Bourbonic came back to finish 13th in the Kentucky Derby and while we can’t find anything to like about him in the win spot, he does come into the Belmont fresh after skipping the Preakness.
We’ll bet Hot Rod Charlie to win and place and box him in the Belmont Exacta with Essential Quality. We’ll also take those two to the board in small Trifectas and Superfectas, using them on extra tickets in the top two spots, and wheel Hot Rod Charlie to the board first and second in smaller exactas.
Go Charlie Go!
Belmont Stakes 153 Post Positions and Morning-Line Odds
Post Position, Horse, Jockey, Trainer, Morning-Line Odds
- Bourbonic, Kendrick Carmouche, Todd Pletcher, 15-1
- Essential Quality, Luis Saez, Brad Cox, 2-1
- Rombauer, John Velazquez, Michael McCarthy, 3-1
- Hot Rod Charlie, Flavien Prat, Doug O’Neill, 7/2
- France Go de Ina, Ricardo Santana Jr., Hideyuki Mori, 30-1
- Known Agenda, Irad Ortiz Jr., Todd Pletcher, 6-1
- Rock Your World, Joel Rosario, John Sadler, 9/2
- Overtook, Manny Franco, Todd Pletcher, 20-1
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