Eight sophomores will go postward in the third leg of the Triple Crown on Saturday in the $1.5 million Belmont S. (G1). The Test of the Champion is a daunting event run at an ambitious 1 1/2 miles over "Big Sandy" and is a true test of endurance for the contenders.
The Todd Pletcher-trained Mo Donegal has been a high-level performer since his juvenile campaign and seems like an ideal candidate to be a classic winner. The two-time Grade 2 victor was last seen finishing fifth in the Run for the Roses despite a less than ideal voyage, and he has posted a trio of solid morning drills in the interim. He is the Expert Pick of the Week.
Mo Donegal bagged the Remsen S. (G2) in his two-year-old finale, and following a respectable third-place result in the Holy Bull S. (G3) at Gulfstream Park to commence 2022, the son of Uncle Mo impressed with a fine tally in the Wood Memorial S. (G2) when running down subsequent Preakness S. (G1) hero Early Voting at Aqueduct.
The Kentucky-bred bay lacks early zip, but he does possess a solid cruising speed and strong late kick, and I expect him to always be in relative striking range on the stretch out in distance on Saturday. The colt was a smart winner on the course in his maiden win last season, and I expect him to wear down his foes in the Belmont under the guidance of top pilot Irad Ortiz Jr.
We the People left quite an impression of himself in his local debut when waltzing home a facile 10-length winner of the Peter Pan S. (G3) for conditioner Rodolphe Brisset. By Constitution, the talented three-year-old is 3-for-4 lifetime and has the early speed to clear this field soon after the break. The $230,000 yearling purchase shows a pair of smart half-mile moves on the surface in preparation of his Grade 1 debut, and the Triple Crown newcomer will be especially tough to pass in the lane with a repeat of his most recent performance. Flavien Prat retains the mount.
Skippylongstocking might not possess the raw talent of many in the field, but the Saffie Joseph pupil has longshot appeal to me as a horse that I believe will handle the trip. The bay son of Exaggerator has improved since stretching out three back, and his one-paced running style is well-suited to the grueling 12-furlong test at Belmont. He could add a lot of value to the exotics with Manny Franco in the silks, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see the longshot track from second or third from the early stages of the contest.
An exacta with #6 Mo Donegal on top of #1 We The People and #2 Skippylongstocking in the Belmont Stakes is the Best Bet of the Week.