NEW YORK – Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike is the third betting choice on the morning line for the Belmont Stakes, with Triple Crown newcomer We the People installed as the favorite.
Rich Strike opened at 7-2 odds and drew the fourth post position in a field of eight horses for the 1 1/2-mile third leg of the Triple Crown. We the People drew the rail and opens at 2-1, with Todd Pletcher-trained No. 6 Mo Donegal set at 5-2.
A month after Rich Strike pulled off an 80-1 upset to win the Derby and bypassed the Preakness for extra rest, trainer Eric Reed thinks the colt is training just as well at Belmont Park as he was at Churchill Downs.
“He’s done real good since he’s been here,” Reed said Tuesday at the post position draw. “I see the energy level a little higher now, and he seems a little more confident.”
We the People is coming off winning the Grade 3 Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park on May 15. With another wet track possible Saturday, France-born trainer Rodolphe Brisset said he “wouldn’t be upset” if rain is in the forecast.
As for We the People opening as the favorite, Brisset said: “Everybody knows we like the horse since this winter. I don’t look at the odds, but it makes sense.
Pletcher has two horses in the field: Mo Donegal, who finished fifth in the Derby, and filly Nest, who ran second in the Kentucky Oaks the day before. He already has won the Belmont once before with a filly — Rags to Riches in 2004 — and is willing to take this chance with Nest, who drew the third post and opens at 8-1.
“Everything’s gone perfectly since the Oaks,” Pletcher said. “She’s a filly that’s really well-bred for this race. I think she’s got the right kind of disposition for it, and she’s given us every indication that she’s doing really well.”
Along with Rich Strike and Mo Donegal, Barber Road is the only other Derby horse set to race in the Belmont. Barber Road, who was sixth in the Derby, drew the outside eighth post at odds of 10-1.
There are no horses this year that are set to take part in all three legs of the Triple Crown, after Derby and Preakness runner-up Epicenter was given time off to prepare for races this summer. Creative Minister, who finished third behind Early Voting and Epicenter three weeks ago in the Preakness, is the only horse to run on all three Triple Crown days after winning against lesser competition on May 7 at Churchill.
“This horse, he’s got a real chance,” trainer Kenny McPeek said of No. 5 Creative Minister, who opened at 6-1. “He handled (the Preakness) really well, and he’s got to move a step forward again.”
Skippylongstocking, who finished fifth in the Preakness, drew the second post. He and No. 7 Golden Glider are the co-longest shots on the board at 20-1.
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