Belmont Stakes 2018: Timeform's runner-by-runner guide
Timeform bring you their comprehensive runner-by-runner guide to Saturday's Belmont Stakes, and pick out their 1-2-3...
"Has looked a superstar in the making, for all hIs Preakness win was more hard fought than expected."
Timeform on Justify
1. Justify (Bob Baffert/Mike Smith)
Unbeaten Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner is bidding to give his trainer a second Triple Crown following American Pharoah in 2015. Has looked a superstar in the making, for all hIs Preakness win was more hard fought than expected. Stamina an obvious concern but very much the one to beat.
2. Free Drop Billy (Dale L Romans/Robby Albarado)
Has been a tad disappointing since finishing second to Audible in the Grade 2 Holy Bull at Gulfstream on his seasonal debut. A long way behind Justify when only sixteenth in the Kentucky Derby last time.
3. Bravazo (D. Wayne Lukas/Luis Saez)
Pushed Justify all the way when beaten just half a length into second in the Preakness last time. That was a career-best effort against a rival who wasn't quite at his best on the day and he probably needs to take another step forward off that.
4. Hofburg (William I Mott/Irad Ortiz Jr)
Seventh to Justify in the Kentucky Derby, that followed a fine effort when second behind Audible in the Florida Derby at Gulfstream. He may not have handled the sloppy conditions at Churchill Downs last time and still has plenty of upside (this just his fourth start). An interesting contender.
5. Restoring Hope (Bob Baffert/Florent Geroux)
One of the more interesting in the field pedigree-wise, this twelve-furlong trip may be the making of him. Last effort is best forgiven as he seemed completely unsuited by the wet track. His form is a long way below that of stable companion Justify, but with just five runs under his belt, may still have a little more to offer.
6. Gronkowski (Chad Brown/Jose L. Ortiz)
Was aiming at the Kentucky Derby when trained by Jeremy Noseda but a setback forced him to miss that contest. Was subsequently transferred to Chad Brown in the US and seems to have taken well to dirt in his works. All wins have come on synthetic tracks but is bred for dirt on the dam's side. Lasix could well bring about above average improvement and very much in the mix if handling this different test.
7. Tenfold (Steven M. Asmussen/Ricardo Santana Jr)
Was only just behind Justify and Bravazo in the Preakness and is another lightly-raced type. This will be just his fifth start and there is stamina in his pedigree. Certainly has place chances, at the very least.
8. Vino Rosso (Todd Pletcher/John R. Velazquez)
Represents the powerful stable of Todd Pletcher, who has won this contest on three occasions, most recently with Tapwrit last year. Has stamina in his pedigree and will be staying on when plenty of have cried enough. Needs to make up ground on Justify on Kentucky Derby running but not ruled out.
9. Noble Indy (Todd Pletcher/Javier Castellano)
Todd Pletcher's second entry in this race was beaten a long way in the Kentucky Derby after racing close to the fast pace. The blinkers he has sported on his last two outings have been removed, suggesting he may be ridden with a bit more patience here. There is stamina in his pedigree but does need to move forward on what we've seen so far.
10. Blended Citizen (Doug F. O'Neill/Kyle Frey)
Won the Grade 3 Peter Pan Stakes (9f) at this track last time, a race that is often used as a stepping stone to the final leg of the Triple Crown. That was his best effort but more will be needed if he's to take this. Others preferred.
While Justify is very much the one to beat, given his rigours over the last few weeks, and the fact that his price will be very short, a chance is taken on Gronkowski each-way at a huge price. Jeremy Noseda’s former charge has joined a top outfit and gets to race on Lasix for the first time, while he seems to have handled dirt just fine in the mornings. Hofburg and Vino Rosso head the shortlist from the remainder.
Back Gronkowski each-way in the 2018 Belmont Stakes