With no Triple Crown on the line this year, recent history suggests taking horses that ran in the Kentucky Derby (G1) and skipped the Preakness Stakes (G1) to be a productive handicapping angle in the Belmont. Empire Maker started the trend at the beginning of the decade all the way to Tapwrit most recently. With that in mind, Rombauer would be a play against and Essential Quality, Hot Rod Charlie, Known Agenda, Bourbonic, and Rock Your World would be in play.
Of the five horses that exit the Derby, Rock Your World was the most compromised. Lightly raced, he lacked experience against a large field and was a step slow leaving the gate, got shuffled back and was taken out of contention early. He found himself uncharacteristically behind horses and was never a factor. With a smaller field and no true front-runner in the race, he can break on top and be long gone just as he did en route to victory in the Santa Anita Derby (G1).
Essential Quality will probably go favored. Undefeated going into the Derby he had a brutally wide trip and only lost by a length. It was a solid performance and he will be tough if he comes back to his best.
Hot Rod Charlie has been a model of consistency since being stretched out on dirt last October. His third-place finish in the Derby proved he belongs with the top 3-year-olds. His tactical speed could be huge positive against this field. He will be positioned right behind Rock Your World and if he falters late, will be in the perfect spot to take victory. Bourbonic was well beaten in the Derby with no visible excuse other than he doesn’t fit with the top 3-year-olds. His victory in the Wood Memorial was against a weak group. Good luck!
1) Rock Your World
2) Essential Quality
3) Hot Rod Charlie
Celebrate Belmont Stakes week with Cash Back for 2nd or 3rd on all races at Belmont Park on June 4th & 5th!