After a troubled fourth as the Kentucky Derby favorite, Essential Quality has been established as the 2-1 morning line choice for Saturday’s 153rd running of the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes. The once-beaten colt will face seven challengers in the final jewel of the Triple Crown.
|Post Position||Horse||Jockey||ML Odds|
|2||Essential Quality||Luis Saez||2-1|
|4||Hot Rod Charlie||Flavien Prat||7-2|
|5||France Go de Ina||Ricardo Santana Jr.||30-1|
|6||Known Agenda||Irad Ortiz Jr.||6-1|
|7||Rock Your World||Joel Rosario||9-2|
Essential Quality was named champion two-year-old male after a three-for-three juvenile season, and the gray Tapit colt opened his sophomore campaign with wins in the Southwest (G3) and Blue Grass (G2), defeating Rombauer in the latter. Luis Saez retains the assignment for Brad Cox.
Rombauer, who joined the Triple Crown trail with 3 1/2-length victory in the Preakness S., is listed as the 3-1 second choice. A confirmed closer earlier in his racing career, the improving Michael McCarthy pupil has raced closer to the pace in his last two outings. John Velazquez takes over aboard the Twirling Candy colt.
Kentucky Derby third Hot Rod Charlie, winner of the TwinSpires.com Louisiana Derby (G2) two back, comes next on the morning line at 7-2. After missing by only a length at Churchill Downs, the Oxbow colt will keep Flavien Prat, who was up on Rombauer in the Preakness. Doug O’Neill trains.
Santa Anita Derby (G1) romper Rock Your World will try to rebound after losing all chance at the start of the Kentucky Derby, winding up 17th as the 47-10 second choice. Look for the John Sadler trainee to show speed with Joel Rosario, and the Candy Ride colt is pegged at an early 9-2.
Florida Derby (G1) winner Known Agenda, one of a trio for three-time Belmont winner Todd Pletcher, is eligible to show more after experiencing a tough trip from the rail post in the Kentucky Derby, rallying belatedly for ninth from far back. Irad Ortiz Jr. will be back up.
Hall of Fame inductee Pletcher will also send out Wood Memorial (G2) victor Bourbonic, 13th in the Kentucky Derby; and Overtook, who exits a third in the May 8 Peter Pan (G2).
France Go de Ina, seventh when making his U.S. debut in the Preakness, completes the field.