NEW YORK (AP) — Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike is the third betting pick on the morning line for the Belmont Stakes, with Triple Crown newcomer We the People installed as the favorite.
Rich Strike opened at 7-2 and drew fourth in an eight-horse field for the third 1 1/2 mile leg of the Triple Crown. We the People fired the rail and opened at 2-1, with No. 6 Mo Donegal formed by Todd Pletcher at 5-2.
A month after Rich Strike pulled off an 80-1 upset to win the Derby and bypassed the Preakness for extra rest, trainer Eric Reed believes the colt is training just as well at Belmont Park as he is at Churchill Downs.
“He’s done really well since he’s been here,” Reed said Tuesday during the position draw. “I see the energy level a bit higher now, and he seems a bit more confident.”
We the People just won the Grade 3 Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park on May 15. With another wet track possible on Saturday, French trainer Rodolphe Brisset said he “wouldn’t be upset” if rain was forecast.
As for We the People opening as a favorite, Brisset said, “Everyone knows we’ve been loving the horse since this winter. I don’t look at the ratings, but that makes sense.
Pletcher has two horses in the field: Mo Donegal, who finished fifth in the Derby, and the filly Nest, who ran second in the Kentucky Oaks the day before. He has won the Belmont once before with a filly – Rags to Riches in 2004 – and is ready to take that chance with Nest, who drew the far post and opened at 8-1.
“Everything went perfectly from the Oaks,” Pletcher said. “She’s a really well-bred filly for this race. I think she has the right temperament for it, and she’s given us every indication that she’s doing very well.
Along with Rich Strike and Mo Donegal, Barber Road is the only other Derby horse to run in the Belmont. Barber Road, sixth in the Derby, drew the outside eighth post at odds of 10-1.
There are no horses this year that will take part in the three legs of the Triple Crown, after Derby and Preakness runners-up Epicenter had time to prepare for the races this summer. Creative Minister, who finished third behind Early Voting and Epicenter three weeks ago in the Preakness, is the only horse to race the three-day Triple Crown after winning a lesser competition on May 7 at Churchill.
“That horse, he’s got a real chance,” trainer Kenny McPeek said of the No. 5 Creative Minister, who opened at 6-1. “He handled (the Preakness) very well, and he still has to take a step forward.”
Skippylongstocking, who finished fifth in the Preakness, drew the far post. He and the No. 7 Golden Glider are the longest co-shots on the board at 20-1.
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