2018 Belmont Stakes Study Guide

Jun 07, 2018 Jennifer Caldwell/Brisnet.com

The 150th running of the Belmont Stakes (G1) is finally here and all eyes will be on Justify as he seeks to complete a Triple Crown sweep. The undefeated chestnut is seeking to help Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert join fellow Hall of Famer 'Sunny Jim' Fitzimmons as the trainer of two Triple Crown winners. Baffert saddled Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness Stakes (G1) winner American Pharoah to end the 37-year Triple Crown drought in 2015, and Justify has already overcome the 'Apollo Curse,' whereas no horse since Apollo in 1882 had won the Kentucky Derby without running as a two-year-old.

Now Justify faces nine rivals in the June 9 Belmont Stakes as he goes for Triple Crown immortality. Can he become the 13th Triple Crown winner? Or will a new champion be crowned? Check out each contender and form your own opinion with this handy 2018 Belmont Stakes Study Guide!

FREE Belmont Stakes PPS courtesy of Brisnet.com


Justify Career Racing Stats

5 Starts
5 Wins (1st)
0 Place (2nd)
0 Show (3rd)
Total Career Earnings: $2,998,000

Top BRIS Speed Rating (114) made in the Santa Anita Derby [G1]

Owner: China Horse Club, Head of Plain Partners, Starlight Racing and WinStar Farm
Breeder: John D. Gunther (KY)
Trainer: Bob Baffert
Jockey: Mike Smith

Sire: Scat Daddy
Dam: Stage Magic, by Ghostzapper
Color: Chestnut

Justify brings an unbeaten, five-for-five mark into Belmont Stakes 150. The chestnut was never challenged in his first four races for trainer Bob Baffert, including a 2 1/2-length score in the Kentucky Derby on May 5 over a sloppy, sealed track at Churchill Downs. Conditions only worsened for the Preakness Stakes (G1) two weeks later at Pimlico, as a heavy fog blanketed the area at post time. Most of the second of jewel of the Triple Crown was blocked by the heavy mist but, as the horses emerged from the gloom, fans were greeted with Justify leading the way while Bravazo and Tenfold closed fast on the colt. The wire came just in time, and Justify will attempt a return to his dominating ways while stretching out to 1 1/2 miles in the Belmont Stakes for the first time.

Free Drop Billy Career Racing Stats

9 Starts
2 Wins (1st)
3 Places (2nd)
2 Shows (3rd)
Total Career Earnings $625,220

Top BRIS Speed Rating: 99 (Holy Bull Stakes [G2])

Owner: Albaugh Family Stables LLC
Breeder: Helen K. Groves Revokable Trust (KY)
Trainer: Dale Romans
Jockey: Robby Albarado

Sire: Union Rags
Dam: Trensa, by Giant's Causeway)
Color: Chestnut

Free Drop Billy was a top contender during his juvenile season, running close seconds in a pair of graded contests at Saratoga before taking the Breeders' Futurity (G1) at Keeneland. The colt concluded his two-year-old campaign with a subpar ninth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) and showed signs of his former spark with placings in the Holy Bull Stakes (G2) and Gotham Stakes (G3). He finished fourth in the Blue Grass Stakes (G2), but elevated to third via disqualification of a rival, to earn a spot in the Kentucky Derby starting gate, and enters the Belmont Stakes off a 16th-place effort in the Run for the Roses.

Bravazo Career Racing Stats

10 Starts
3 Wins (1st)
2 Places (2nd)
1 Show (3rd)
Total Career Earnings $736,528

Top BRIS Speed Rating: 98 (Risen Star Stakes [G2])

Owner: Calumet Farm
Breeder: Calumet Farm (KY)
Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas
Jockey: Luis Saez

Sire: Awesome Again
Dam: Tiz o' Gold, by Cee's Tizzy
Color: Dark Bay

Bravazo and Justify are the only two sophomores to compete in all three legs of the 2018 Triple Crown, and the dark bay sophomore has come closest to defeating Justify than any other horse, running his foe to just a half-length in the Preakness Stakes three weeks ago. The Calumet Farm homebred ties with only one other runner in the Belmont Stakes in terms of experience, boasting 10 career starts thus far. Seven of those came in stakes contests, including a win in the Risen Star Stakes (G2) earlier this season. Bravazo is looking to give his 82-year-old Hall of Fame trainer, D. Wayne Lukas, a fifth win in the Belmont Stakes.

Hofburg Career Racing Stats

4 Starts
1 Win (1st)
1 Place (2nd)
0 Show (3rd)
Total Career Earnings $227,950

Top BRIS Speed Rating: 104 (Florida Derby [G1])

Owner: Juddmonte Farms Inc.
Breeder: Juddmonte Farms Inc. (KY)
Trainer: Bill Mott
Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.

Sire: Tapit
Dam: Soothing Touch, by Touch Gold
Color: Chestnut

Hofburg shows only four career starts thus far, but the chestnut colt has done well for himself with a nice runner-up effort in the Florida Derby (G1) and rallying seventh in the Kentucky Derby. He's the second choice on the morning line for the 150th Belmont Stakes, assigned 9-2 odds, and brings along regular jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. for the ride. That reinsman captured the 2016 Belmont with Creator and last year saw his brother Jose Ortiz win the 'Test of the Champion' aboard Tapwrit. 

Restoring Hope Career Racing Stats

5 Starts
1 Win (1st)
1 Place (2nd)
2 Shows (3rd)
Total Career Earnings $149,880

Top BRIS Speed Rating: 96 (Wood Memorial [G2])

Owner: Gary and Mary West
Breeder: Gary & Mary West Stables Inc. (KY)
Trainer: Bob Baffert
Jockey: Florent Geroux

Sire: Giant's Causeway
Dam: Symbol of Freedom, by Tapit
Color: Dark Bay

Restoring Hope has received attention leading up the Belmont Stakes for the simple reason he is a stablemate of Justify. The sophomore followed along as Justify has trained and shipped to the third jewel of the Triple Crown. The dark bay colt has some merit on his own, though, finishing third in the Wood Memorial (G2), but didn't seem to handle the off-going when 12th last out in the Pat Day Mile (G3) on Kentucky Derby Day.

Gronkowski Career Racing Stats

6 Starts
4 Wins (1st)
1 Place (2nd)
0 Show (3rd)
Total Career Earnings $135,741

Top BRIS Speed Rating: —

Owner: Phoenix Thoroughbred III
Breeder: Epic Thoroughbreds LLC (KY)
Trainer: Chad Brown
Jockey: Jose Ortiz

Sire: Lonhro (Aus)
Dam: Four Sugars, by Lookin at Lucky
Color: Dark Bay

With New England Patriots All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski buying a small stake in his namesake horse, Gronkowski garnered some late but avid attention heading into the Kentucky Derby. The dark bay competed overseas for trainer Jeremy Noseda and racked up enough points to lead the European Road to the Kentucky Derby, good for an invite to the Run for the Roses. Alas, the colt came down with an infection before the big day and was forced to miss the Derby. Subsequently transferred to trainer Chad Brown, Gronkowski has shown no signs of his ailment as he's readied for his U.S. debut in the Belmont Stakes.

Tenfold Career Racing Stats

4 Starts
2 Wins (1st)
0 Place (2nd)
1 Show (3rd)
Total Career Earnings $289,200

Top BRIS Speed Rating: 97 (Preakness Stakes)

Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC
Breeder: Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC (KY)
Trainer: Steve Asmussen
Jockey: Ricardo Santana Jr.

Sire: Curlin
Dam: Temptress, by Tapit
Color: Dark Bay

Tenfold leapt into the spotlight when nearly running down Justify in the Preakness Stakes last out. The lightly raced colt captured his initial two efforts and then finishing fifth while facing stakes rivals for the first time in the Arkansas Derby (G1) on April 14. He was sent off at 26-1 in the second jewel of the Triple Crown based on that performance, but easily outran those odds when only three parts of a length behind Justify on the wire. The dark bay sophomore also just missed second by a neck to Bravazo.

Vino Rosso Career Racing Stats

6 Starts
3 Wins (1st)
0 Place (2nd)
1 Show (3rd)
Total Career Earnings $620,500

Top BRIS Speed Rating: 102 (Wood Memorial [G2])

Owner: Repole Stable and St Elias Stable
Breeder: John D. Gunther (KY)
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Jockey: John Velazquez

Sire: Curlin
Dam: Mythical Bride, by Street Cry (Ire)
Color: Chestnut

Vino Rosso was a top contender on the Road to the Kentucky Derby this season, placing in the Sam F. Davis Stakes (G3), finishing fourth in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) and capturing the Wood Memorial (G2) by three lengths. Unfortunately, the chestnut was one-paced throughout the Run for the Roses, finishing ninth on the wire in only his worse effort to date. Bred by the same person who bred Justify, Vino Rosso is seeking redemption in the Belmont Stakes.

Noble Indy Career Racing Stats

5 Starts
3 Wins (1st)
0 Place (2nd)
1 Show (3rd)
Total Career Earnings $691,600

Top BRIS Speed Rating: 100 (Louisiana Derby [G2])

Owner: WinStar Farm LLC and Repole Stable
Breeder: WinStar Farm LLC (KY)
Trainer Todd Pletcher
Jockey: Javier Castellano

Sire: Take Charge Indy
Dam: Noble Maz, by Storm Boot
Color: Bay

Like stablemate Vino Rosso, Noble Indy is looking to affirm his early season form following a subpar 17th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby last out. The bay colt sandwiched a third in the Risen Star Stakes (G2) between an allowance/optional claiming win and neck victory in the Louisiana Derby (G2) prior to his Derby effort. Like so many others, his connections opted to skip the Preakness and point their runner to the Belmont for the ultimate showdown with Justify.

Blended Citizen Career Racing Stats

10 Starts
3 Wins (1st)
0 Place (2nd)
2 Shows (3rd)
Total Career Earnings $406,854

Top BRIS Speed Rating: 100 (El Camino Real Derby [G3], Jeff Ruby Steaks [G3])

Owner: SAYJAY Racing LLC and Greg Hall
Breeder: Ray Hanson (KY)
Trainer: Doug O'Neill
Jockey: Kyle Frey

Sire: Proud Citizen
Dam: Langara Lass, by Langfuhr
Color: Bay

Blended Citizen ties with Bravazo as the most experienced runners in the 150th Belmont Stakes with 10 career starts. The bay colt has proven a triple-surface threat, winning on dirt, synthetic and turf. His synthetic and dirt wins came in graded contest, the Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) over Turfway Park's Polytrack and the Peter Pan Stakes (G2) on the main dirt at Belmont Park most recently. That race is the local prep for the Belmont Stakes, and the bay colt will try to remain perfect at Big Sandy with victory in the 'Test of the Champion.'

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