2018 Belmont Stakes Betting Preview and a Special Look at Justify

The 2018 Belmont Stakes and third leg of the Triple Crown happens this weekend at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York. It happens on Saturday, June 9th with a post time of 6:37 PM ET. You can watch the Belmont Stakes live on NBC or online via the NBC Sports app.

Belmont Stakes entries will be finalized during Tuesday’s post draw, and from that point on, we’ll know who’s starting where and start to get a firmer look at the odds. Horse Racing Nation has posted some early odds showing Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner Justify as the horse to beat this year.

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As Justify seeks to claim the first Triple Crown since American Pharoah did it in 2015, nine other probables will be looking to upset the odds and claim victory at Belmont Park this weekend. Today, we’ll be looking at the current Belmont Stakes odds, preview the race and consider Justify’s chances as he looks to make it three-for-three in this year’s race for the Triple Crown.

2018 Belmont Stakes Odds

The following odds come courtesy of Horse Racing Nation and offer a preview of what to expect on race day. These odds are subject to change after the post draw and as news breaks over the next few days, but this should be pretty close to what we’ll be looking at on the morning of the 2018 Belmont Stakes at the best horse racing betting sites:

  • Justify: 4-5
  • Bravazo: 5-1
  • Hofburg: 6-1
  • Vino Rosso: 10-1
  • Tenfold: 15-1
  • Noble Indy: 20-1
  • Blended Citizen: 20-1
  • Gronkowski: 20-1
  • Restoring Hope: 30-1
  • Free Drop Billy: 30-1

Belmont Stakes Betting Preview

Given his performances at the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, it comes as no surprise to see Justify at the top of the list. Oddsmakers and handicappers alike have good reasons to believe in Justify, but can he do it all over again in the face of strong competition? We’ll discuss Justify in more detail below, but here’s a quick look at the five favorites heading into the 2018 Belmont Stakes.

Justify: Justify hardly needs an introduction at this point. His victories in the slop at the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes have put him in contention to win Triple Crown glory. Justify is undefeated in five starts and has all the momentum in his favor. Stamina is of course the biggest question mark as Justify looks to win his third major race in a row, but there is no doubt this is the horse to beat.

Bravazo: The second-favorite behind Justify, Bravazo is an experienced horse with 10 horses to his name. He had three first place finishes to his name heading into the 2018 Triple Crown season. Bravazo finished sixth in the Kentucky Derby, improved to a second-place finish at Preakness and is now said to be in great shape as the team prepares for the Belmont Stakes.

Hofburg: Hofburg had a troubled Kentucky Derby that saw him run into traffic and struggle to close late, which led to a disappointing seventh-place finish. His trainers opted to skip the Preakness Stakes and give him extra race as he makes his way back for the Belmont Stakes. Hofburg earned a first-place finish at Gulfstream Park back in March and took second at the Florida Derby before attempting the Kentucky Derby. His trainers say they are pleased with Hofburg after his final pre-Belmont workout.

Vino Rosso: Vino Rosso’s ninth-place finish at the Kentucky Derby doesn’t do this horse justice. He has three first place finishes to his name, most recently the grade 2 Wood Memorial in April. Vino Rosso is trained by three-time Belmont Stakes winner Todd Pletcher and will be ridden by two-time Belmont winner John Velazquez.

Tenfold: Tenfold surged strongly late in the Preakness Stakes for a third-place finish less than a length behind Justify. He only has four races to his name so far, but a couple of first place finishes and a podium place at Preakness says it all. Stamina is one of the keys to winning at Belmont, and Tenfold has it on both sides of his pedigree as the son of Curlin and Tapit’s own Temptress.

Poor Weather No Issue for Justify

The Preakness Stakes gave Justify another chance to shine in poor weather. This time, it wasn’t just a muddy track, but conditions so foggy the producers at NBC had to scramble just to keep the horses in view.

At one point late in the race, the horses all but disappear from view behind dense fog just as Good Magic makes a run to the inside of Justify. Several agonizing seconds slip by before the horses come roaring out of the fog and back into view, with Justify still in command and pushing ahead to win just as Bravazo and Tenfold squeeze up into second and third place finishes of their own.

While the foggy conditions must have been nerve-wracking for NBC producers, it made for some great TV and showed that Justify can take on a race in any weather.

That last point is especially important to note, because weather may play a factor in the 2018 run for the Triple Crown one more time. AccuWeather is reporting, yet again, that there is a chance we get another muddy Triple Crown race.

The latest AccuWeather forecast states the 2018 Belmont Stakes “may be a close call with rain and sunshine” due to a storm that brought rain last weekend and a second storm heading towards the area this weekend.

If the storm maintains its current rate of travel, the rain should hold off long enough for the Belmont Stakes to wrap up before more rain moves into the area. However, “any increase in the forward speed of that storm, which is still out over the Pacific Ocean, may have a wet outcome for the race.”

Can Justify Win the 2018 Triple Crown?

Of course, weather is far from the only factor that will affect the 2018 Belmont Stakes. Whether it ends up being a wet or dry affair, the Belmont Stakes is the longest race of the Triple Crown at 1 ½ miles.

Just watch that Preakness Stakes video again and you’ll see how much of a difference just a little extra distance can make. Good Magic ran up near the lead the entire time and looked close to achieving at least a second-place finish until Bravazo and Tenfold both surged forward to push Good Magic back to fourth.

Considering the pace Justify set throughout the race and the strong late surges from his second and third-place challengers, what would have happened if the horses had more time to run? Could Justify have held onto his lead in a 1.5-mile race? That is the question everyone will be asking as we head into the Belmont Stakes

Justify is naturally the horse everyone will be watching whether they have money on the line or not. It isn’t often we get a Triple Crown challenger, let alone a Triple Crown winner. If Justify is to win the 2018 Triple Crown, he’ll have to accomplish something only a dozen horses have done over the years.

With two Triple Crown races down and just one to go, asking if Justify can win the 2018 Triple Crown is essentially asking if he can win the Preakness Stakes. Strong horses win the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes every few years or so, but it is much rarer to see that same horse continue his winning ways over to the Belmont Stakes.

For one, this the third race in short order and Justify will be facing fresh competition from teams who opted to sit their horses out for the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes or both. Second, we’re looking at the longest race of the bunch. After running two tough races, Justify has to turn right back around and do it all over again at the longest race yet.

Justify remains the dominant favorite nonetheless. He has proven over and over again that wherever he runs, he wins. Whether it’s in the slop at the Kentucky Derby or on a dry track in any of his earlier races, Justify takes first place. He has a 100% first-place record over five races dating back to February of this year.

In his favor is excellent training, an undeniably athletic nature and a willingness to run hard no matter the conditions. As a Bob Baffert horse, Justify is in the best hands. Baffert took American Pharoah to Triple Crown glory just three years ago. If anyone can guide Justify through the grueling Triple Crown schedule, it is Bob Baffert.

Bob Baffert says that although Justify is a different horse than American Pharoah, he does see some similarities. Here’s how Bob Baffert put it after the Preakness Stakes:

“I think I see a lot of resemblance in these two, the way they move… When I worked him after the Preakness, American Pharoah, when would breathe, he was like he was a machine. And this horse is getting there.”

Hall-of-fame jockey Mike Smith will be riding Justify once again, and it is difficult thing of anyone else you’d rather see on Justify if this is your horse. Smith has ridden two horses to victory at the Belmont Stakes (2010 and 2013) and has a long history in racing. He too is optimistic of Justify’s chances:

“He knows when he sees me it’s time to do something serious, you know? His disposition’s amazing. So far, he hasn’t gotten overheated or get too worried about things. He seems to kind of like all the attention, so to say, somewhat. When everyone else is jumping around after the crowd goes crazy after they sing one of the hometown songs, he just kinda looks around like, ‘Wow. What’s all the big deal?’ Very intelligent.

Ultimately, it’s going to come down to how Justify handles the longer track and how much he’s been able to recover between three rapid-fire races. The oddsmakers have given Justify favorite status for a good reason, but he’ll be facing stiff competition this weekend.