Why I Think Justify Will Sweep the 2018 Triple Crown at the Belmont Stakes
Published on June 07, 2018
The 150th running of the Belmont Stakes arrives on Saturday, June 9th. Justify enters as the heavy favorite after besting the competition in both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes and will operate out of the #1 post position.
The field for this year鈥檚 Belmont Stakes was finally made official on Tuesday with the post draw, while nine other colts will combat Justify in an effort to buck history.
Those other nine horses have a shot at glory in their own right, but they鈥檇 also carry the honor of preventing history.
Top horse racing betting sites like Bovada have Justify at a nice -125 price, with the next-closest horse carrying +450 odds into the final leg of the 2018 Triple Crown.
There is a lot on the line here. Justify has impressed with two clutch wins and comes into the 2018 Belmont Stakes at a perfect 5-0, but it鈥檚 fair to wonder if he鈥檒l answer the bell of history and secure just the 13th-ever Triple Crown sweep.
Vegas seems to think he will win, as virtually every Belmont Stakes betting site pegs him as either a mild or heavy favorite.
Should bettors feel as good about Justify鈥檚 chances? It鈥檚 one thing to like him for the Belmont Stakes in a field of 10 horses, but with such historic pressure working against him, it鈥檇 only make sense for him to fail.
Of course, there鈥檚 plenty of logic supporting it. In fact, if you plan on betting on the Belmont Stakes, consider the following reasons before wagering against Justify.
Trainer Bob Baffert loathes the #1 spot out of the gates, but while he fears the possibility of Justify getting lost early and pinned against the rail, he at least knows what he鈥檚 in for.
The historically daunting task of winning a Triple Crown grew a little more difficult for Justify on Tuesday when his draw for the Belmont Stakes was revealed https://t.co/TgsKhx46T1
— NY Daily News Sports (@NYDNSports) June 6, 2018
In theory, coming from the top spot on the inside forces Justify to jump out to an early lead and get ahead of the pack.
The question, of course, is if Justify can then sustain that lead and fend off the field in a longer track than he鈥檚 accustomed to.
That remains to be determined, but with a simplified strategy, Justify can focus on the best way to win this race, rather than considering numerous options.
While Baffert isn鈥檛 too excited about the #1 spot, it does happen to be the leading post draw for Belmont Stakes winners (23). It鈥檚 also worth noting that five of those winners wound up securing a Triple Crown sweep.
Vegas and competitors in the Belmont Stakes will try to suggest otherwise, but this 10-horse field really doesn鈥檛 seem that scary.
Justify has had some close calls, but he鈥檚 ultimately prevailed in the end thanks to elite speed and an ability to sense the pressure late.
Bravazo (+750) gave him a serious run for his money at the Preakness, but this race is longer, and there鈥檚 no guarantee he鈥檒l get so close again.
If Justify jumps out early like he鈥檚 going to have to, his speed could give him a big enough lead to withstand anything this group of horses has to throw at him.
Some of these horses have some speed, are well-trained, and have some big wins, but none have displayed the resume Justify has to this point.
That isn鈥檛 to say this is a field of slouches, but it鈥檚 at least comparable to what Justify dealt with at the Preakness Stakes and arguably inferior to a more loaded field at the Kentucky Derby.
Nobody is suggesting Justify is necessarily unbeatable, but the field he鈥檚 trying to beat isn鈥檛 anything new.
He鈥檚 faced stiff competition several times now and won in different ways. He can surely do so again this weekend.
I鈥檓 not sure you can simply look to who the trainer is and bank on past success, but it does count for something.
Not only has Baffert enjoyed a ton of success in the Triple Crown as a whole, but he鈥檚 already been in this exact situation.
Even when Baffert isn鈥檛 sweeping the Triple Crown, he鈥檚 at least fared well in this race. He won here for the first time with Point Given back in 2001 and has three other runner-up finishes.
Finishing second won鈥檛 do the trick this time around, but the point is that Baffert knows how to work Belmont Park, and when he鈥檚 got a champion, he has a chance.
It never hurts to be favored going into a big race. Justify earned that label ahead of the other two Triple Crown events and again gets that honor going into the 2018 Belmont Stakes.
Obviously, that worked out well the first two times for Justify, and he鈥檒l hope to go three-for-three as a favorite during the Triple Crown.
History isn鈥檛 exactly on Justify鈥檚 side in terms of how favorites have fared at the Belmont Stakes, but in such a volatile setting, I鈥檒l take a 42% conversion rate.
That鈥檚 right, out of 149 prior runnings of the last leg of the Triple Crown, 62 favorites have made good on their billing and notched the win.
The success rate does dip even further for horses trying to cement a TC sweep, but history is on the line, and I won鈥檛 hear the doubting simply because Justify is regarded as the most talented horse.
Justify鈥檚 speed grading has dipped throughout these Triple Crown races, but he survived a loaded Kentucky Derby field and also got through messy conditions to survive Bravazo at the Preakness. There鈥檚 no reason to think that the Belmont is going to be a daunting prospect for him.
This horse has already made history, and I think he has a great shot of making more.
Vegas also likes him, and bettors are getting relatively nice value at a -125 price. I don鈥檛 mind hopping on that, and as you can see, there is plenty of logic behind that move.
You don鈥檛 have to bet on Justify if you don鈥檛 agree. However, don鈥檛 be too shocked when horse racing crowns another historic champion when the dust settles at Belmont Park this Saturday.