Expert picks, longshots: Belmont 2018 predictions

June 08, 2018 03:12pm

Along with the main story line, Justify's effort to become America's 13th Triple Crown winner, is a nice betting race in Saturday's 2018 Belmont Stakes 
 especially if you're siding against the 4-5 morning line favorite.

Nine rivals will line up to face Justify, with post time 6:46 p.m. ET. Early forecasts calling for rain have since shifted to predicting a cloudy but dry afternoon in New York, making way for the Triple Crown series' first dry track following sloppy runnings of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.

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We polled Horse Racing Nation contributors for their picks, longshots and plays. Also be sure to keep an eye on the current Belmont Stakes odds. Good luck!

Bryan Brinkmeyer, The Kentucky Derby Post (

Winner: #1 Justify

On the board: #4 Hofburg, #3 Bravazo

Longshot I like: #10 Blended Citizen

Analysis: It’s Justify’s race to lose, and I believe he’s ready for the challenge. Playing against him could be difficult, but should another horse in the field become the spoiler, trifecta plays will include Hofburg, Bravazo and Blended Citizen. Of these three horses that I will play with Justify in the Trifecta, Hofburg is my top choice to pull off the upset.  

Jeffrey Byrnes, Byrnzzze's Corner (@jeffbyrnes96)

Winner: #8 Vino Rosso

On the board: #1 Justify, #4 Hofburg

Longshot I like: #7 Tenfold

Analysis: This race was very difficult to handicap, as a number of horses in this field can win. Vino Rosso is the pick for me. His connections have said the Belmont is the perfect race for him, and they have a point. He is sired by Curlin, the 2007 runner up and sire of 2013 Belmont winner Palace Malice, as well as last year's Belmont runner up Irish War Cry. His dam, Flaming Heart, is a half sister to Commissioner, the 2014 Belmont runner up. Vino Rosso's pedigree screams 12 furlongs. He will need a good break, and from his outside post, can get a good stalking trip on the outside. I do think the six races in four months catches up to Justify. Hofburg is another beautifully bred horse who can get the distance, while Tenfold is a longshot worth looking at because of pedigree and his training since the Preakness. I'll play an 8-1-4-7 superfecta box. 

Nick Costa, Trackside with Trackman

Winner: #1 Justify

On the board: #8 Vino Rosso, #4 Hofburg

Longshot I like: #7 Tenfold

Analysis: Justify has stood up to all the challenges to this point. With his tactical speed and the way he is coming into the race, it will be very difficult to slay this giant. Vino Rosso is a better horse than he showed in the Kentucky Derby. Has rested for five weeks and is handled by Todd Pletcher, who has proven he can get them ready for the mile and a half. Hofburg's Derby effort wasn't all that terrible. He has talent and sports top-notch connections. He is sired by Tapit, producer of three of the last four Belmont winners. Tenfold was a bit unlucky in the first turn of the Preakness and was beaten less than one length. He appears to be peaking at the right time. His breeding is impeccable for 12 furlongs.
My $5 trifecta part wheel - 1/8/2-3-4-5-7-10 - $30 ticket
My $3 trifecta part wheel - 1/2-3-4-5-7-10/8 - $18 ticket

Chip Gehrke, On the Air with Dr. Derby (@doctorderby)

Winner: #9 Noble Indy

On the board: #4 Hofburg, #2 Free Drop Billy

Longshot I like: #9 Noble Indy

Analysis: Assuming it's a fast racetrack, Noble Indy should get a nice trip from the outside post stalking early leader Justify. He is bred for the distance and will be flying under the radar here. Hofburg is my pick if the rain comes again and the track is sloppy. He ran a very good race in the Derby and should love the added ground here. Free Drop Billy will be a longshot, but he too should appreciate the added distance. I think the son of Belmont winner Union Rags could complete the trifecta.

Casey Laughter, The Tattooed Tracksider (@WritingCasey)

Winner: #1 Justify

On the board: #7 Tenfold, #10 Blended Citizen

Longshot I like: #9 Noble Indy

Analysis: Simply put, I think no horse in the field can stop Justify. However, the others make good arguments. Noble Indy hasn't received any respect, but his front-running style is favorable and if he lays close, he could hang around.

Jonathan Lintner, DerbyAlumni (@JonathanLintner)

Winner: #1 Justify

On the board: #7 Tenfold, #4 Hofburg

Longshot I like: #9 Noble Indy

Analysis: That Justify should get a fast track, and that he has run his best race over a fast track, isn't being talked about nearly enough. I think he's eligible to improve and finishes first or second, if the breeding or recent work load catches up to him in the stretch. I'm looking at a Trifecta ticket that includes each of Justify, Tenfold and Hofburg in the win spot. I will leave Noble Indy on the ticket in case he sticks around, as the pace shouldn't be harsh. Vino Rosso is the most popular pick I'll probably let beat me.

Olivia Newman, @barbaroloverrrThe Final Stride

Winner: #1 Justify

On the board: #4 Hofburg, #7 Tenfold

Longshot I like: #3 Bravazo

Analysis: I think Justify will have control of the race if he breaks well and tracks Restoring Hope. Hofburg, Tenfold and Bravazo will all be rolling late. They are all bred for classic distances, and I anticipate a competitive fight to the finish. 

Laura Pugh, Dueling Down the Stretch (@LauraDPugh)

Winner: #1 Justify

On the board: #9 Noble Indy, #7 Tenfold

Longshot I like: #5 Restoring Hope

Analysis: Justify is best by a mile (and a half?) here. If he breaks clean, he will get loose on the lead. Other horses with the ability to lay close, like Noble Indy and Tenfold, aren't likely to be caught by closers. Restoring Hope has looked sharp in his works, and would not be in here if he didn't have a shot. He, like the other two, will lay close to the pace, and with his pedigree, he's not likely to run out of gas turning for home.

Mary Dixon Reynolds, The Gallop Out (@nchorseplayer)

Winner: #1 Justify

On the board: #3 Bravazo, #9 Noble Indy

Longshot I like: #8 Vino Rosso

Analysis: We should see our 13th Triple Crown winner when Justify takes the Belmont. Class and talent will carry him across the finish line. 


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