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.

 

 

Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano rides 5,000th winner

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NEW YORK — Javier Castellano won consecutive races to give the Hall of Fame jockey his 5,000th career victory in North America.

The 41-year-old rider won the $200,000 Mohawk aboard Offering Plan in the third race at Belmont Park on Saturday and followed up in the next race aboard Runaway Lute in the $150,000 Hudson to reach the milestone.

Castellano is the 34th jockey in North American history to reach 5,000 wins.

He began his career in his native Venezuela in 1996 before moving to the U.S. a year later and riding his first winner at Calder in Florida.

Castellano is a four-time Eclipse Award winner as the nation’s top jockey. He won the Preakness in 2006 and 2016 and has notched eight Breeders’ Cup victories.

Best Solution, Northern Ireland jockey win Caulfield Cup

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MELBOURNE, Australia — Godolphin stable’s Best Solution won the Caulfield Cup in a photo finish ahead of American-bred Homesman, with The Cliffsofmoher finishing third on Saturday in the 2,400-meter race.

Ridden by Pat Cosgrave of Northern Ireland, Best Solution recovered from a bad start to follow Taj Mahal at 600 meters to go and hold on for the Group One win.

Cosgrave was later suspended by race stewards for 11 meetings for a careless riding charge.

The jockey decided to take his suspension immediately, which means he will miss the Cox Plate, another major lead-up race to the Melbourne Cup, Australia’s richest and most prestigious race on Nov. 6 at Flemington.

Cosgrave plans to ride in Dubai on Nov. 3 before returning to Melbourne to again partner Best Solution in the Melbourne Cup.

Cosgrave pleaded guilty to the charge that he allowed Best Solution to shift in near the 1,800-meter mark of the Caulfield Cup, tightening Japanese runner Sole Impact.

Japanese rider Ryusei Sakai was also suspended for causing interference at the same point of the Caulfield Cup when he too shifted ground when not clear. He was suspended for 11 meetings and is able to ride again on Oct. 31.

The victory gave trainer Saeed bin Suroor and Godolphin their second Caulfield Cup after All The Good won in 2008.

Pre-race favorite Kings Will Dream had a bad start to drop a couple of lengths and never recovered, finishing sixth after being caught in traffic.