Favorite Justify Faces Fresh Rivals at 2018 Belmont Stakes

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Running from the rail post and facing horses who are better rested could derail Justify’s bid for horse racing’s Triple Crown.

As one would expect with the chestnut colt who has won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, Justify is the -110 favorite on the 2018 Belmont Stakes odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The 1½-mile race, the final jewel in the Triple Crown, takes place at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y., on Saturday.

Thirty-five horses have gone into the Belmont with a chance to win the Triple Crown but only 12 have completed the feat, with American Pharoah being the most recent in 2015. Many owners and trainers hold back their horses from the Preakness.

Justify and jockey Mike Smith have drawn gate 1, meaning that it will be an absolute must for the colt to have the same speed he has shown in previous starts, especially during the first quarter-mile.

Hofburg (+450) is a deserving second favorite on the Belmont Stakes betting lines but is running from gate 4 and that could limit his chance to break from the outside. Bravazo (+750), who is in gate 3, has flashed potential this spring and had a great effort in the Preakness but might be too much of a wild card.

The value play could be Tenfold (+1000), who ran third in the Preakness and will have the more favorable No. 7 position. Bettors who read into pedigree have likely already noted Tenfold is a son of Tapit, who has sired three of the past four Belmont Stakes winners.

Blended Citizen (+1800), who has the outside No. 10 position, could be in the running to at least show after having success on the same track on May 12 when he won the Peter Pan Stakes, which is only nine furlongs to the Belmont’s 12. In 2014, a Peter Pan winner, Tonalist, squelched California Chrome’s Triple Crown bid.

The two Todd Pletcher-trained racers, Vino Rosso (+900) and Noble Indy (+2800), will break side-by-side from gates 8 and 9 respectively. At those odds, Noble Indy might be worth taking a flyer on, given that Pletcher has trained three Belmont Stakes winners.

The rest of the 10-horse field consists of Gronkowski (+2500, gate 6), Free Drop Billy (+3000, gate 2) and Restoring Hope (+3300, gate 5).

For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes or listen to it at OddsShark.libsyn.com.

 

 

Victor Espinoza in neck brace at home after accident

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DEL MAR, Calif. — Hall of Fame jockey Victor Espinoza is wearing a neck brace while recovering at his San Diego home after fracturing a vertebra during a training accident at Del Mar.

Agent Brian Beach says on Twitter that the 46-year-old rider spent 11 days in the hospital and at a rehabilitation facility.

Espinoza says he initially thought he might be paralyzed after the July 22 fall at the track north of San Diego. He told ABC affiliate KGTV in San Diego that his body was numb and he could only move his right arm.

The jockey says the first time he cried was when he first started moving his right leg and by the time he got to the hospital he started moving his other leg.

Espinoza says his left arm is still numb. He will be in the neck brace for six weeks and hopes to make a full recovery.

He was exercising Bobby Abu Dhabi during morning workouts when the horse had an apparent heart attack and threw Espinoza off. Bobby Abu Dhabi died.

Espinoza rode American Pharoah to a sweep of the Triple Crown in 2015.

Good Magic romps in $1 million Haskell at Monmouth Park

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OCEANPORT, N.J. — Good Magic, the 1-2 favorite, rolled to a three-length victory in the $1 million Haskell Invitational on Sunday at Monmouth Park.

The colt, ridden by Jose Ortiz, took command on the final turn and opened a clear lead on the way to the third win in an eight-race career.

Trained by Chad Brown, Good Magic made his first start since the Preakness where he pressed the pace in the slop against ultimate winner Justify before finishing fourth.

Justify, retired last week, went to complete the sweep of the Triple Crown in the Belmont Stakes.

With the Haskell win, Good Magic is positioned to assume the leadership role among the active 3-year-olds. Last year’s Eclipse Award winner as champion juvenile will next head to Saratoga for the $1.25 million Travers Stakes on Aug. 25, according to Brown.

Good Magic paid $3, $2.40 and $2.40. Bravazo was second, returning $4 and $2.60. Lone Sailor paid $2.60 to show.

The time was 1:50.01 for the 1 1/8 miles.