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.

 

 

Accelerate early favorite to win Pegasus World Cup

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. — Accelerate’s big week is here, and it’s off to a start his connections wanted.

Accelerate is the 9-5 early favorite to win Saturday’s $9 million Pegasus World Cup, drawing the No. 5 post in a field of 12 for the race to be run over 1 1/8 miles of dirt at Gulfstream Park. It’ll be the final race for the Breeders’ Cup Classic champion, who is a mere 1 1/8 miles of Gulfstream Park dirt away from beginning his stud career.

“It’s a good post,” Accelerate trainer John Sadler said. “We didn’t want to be on the outside and we didn’t want to be on the inside. We were hoping for 5 or 6, so we’re very happy with the draw.”

Accelerate was almost certainly going to be the pre-race favorite regardless of what spot in the starting gate he drew. He’s also a finalist for Horse of the Year, the top prize that will be given out when the Eclipse Awards are unveiled at Gulfstream on Thursday night. That trophy figures to come down to either Accelerate or Justify, the now-retired winner of the Triple Crown last year.

“I have nothing but respect for the other horse, obviously,” Sadler said. “He’s an undefeated Triple Crown winner, and I saw him breeze all winter at Santa Anita, my home base, so I’m pretty familiar with him. He’s a great horse. That being said, my horse was a great horse last year.”

And a win on Saturday would only cement Accelerate as an all-time great: If he prevails, Accelerate’s career earnings would place him in the top 10 among all North American thoroughbreds. That’s the perk of the Pegasus, which offered purses of $12 million and $16 million in its first two runnings – and will pay out $16 million again this year, with $7 million of that earmarked for a newly added turf race to the program.

The Pegasus dirt is the richest purse in North America; the Pegasus turf has the richest purse for a grass race in North America.

“It’s good for racing,” said owner Ron Paolucci, who has Imperative in the Pegasus dirt race and Dubby Dubbie in the Pegasus turf. “That’s what I got into it for. And truthfully, it’s very selfish on my part. You win one of these races, it changes your life forever – not only in the racing community but in your financial situation.”

City of Light is the second choice behind Accelerate at 5-2, and Gunnevera – who was second to Accelerate at the Breeders’ Cup Classic – is 8-1 in the morning line. Gunnevera was third in the Pegasus World Cup last year.

Yoshida – a Grade 1 winner in both dirt and turf races – is the morning-line favorite for the Pegasus turf race at 5-2, just ahead of Catapult at 7-2. Yoshida finished last year on dirt, and was fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

“He’s got a pedigree for both and he’s one of the odd horses that has transitioned from one to the other,” said Bill Mott, who trains Yoshida. “It’s probably debatable whether his dirt races are better than his turf races, and they may well be, but he’s a horse that won very nicely for us in the spring last year on the turf. He’s run with good company, and we weighed our options here and thought that maybe the turf was the spot to go this time.”

Santa Anita cancels racing after heavy rain inundates track

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ARCADIA, Calif. — Santa Anita has canceled its eight-race card because of wet weather after 3+ inches of rain dropped on the Southern California racetrack in three days.

Officials at the track in Arcadia say heavy overnight rains and more rain throughout the day Thursday made it necessary to cancel. They say the track will make every effort to reschedule the races in the immediate future.

Track superintendent Andy LaRocco says an additional 2 inches of rain was forecast for Thursday.

Live racing will resume on Friday with eight races.