Preakness Stakes winner Exaggerator was installed as the 9/5 morning-line favorite in a field of 13 3-year-olds set for Saturday's Belmont Stakes, the final jewel of horse racing's Triple Crown. The son of Curlin is strictly the horse to beat in the 1 ½-mile "Test of a Champion." But there are no chalk-eating weasels here, so who are the potential upsetters worthy of a wager?
Here is the complete field in post position order with trainers, jockeys and morning-line odds:
1. Governor Malibu, Christophe Clement, Joel Rosario, 12-1
Why He'll Win : The son of Malibu Moon is locally-based, which is an advantage given the unique 1 ½-mile layout of Belmont Park. He also has a top rider in the irons and his trainer won the 2014 Belmont with Tonalist.
Why He Won't: He was beaten in the Peter Pan Stakes (G2) last out when trying graded stakes company for the first time. His speed figures suggest he's simply a cut below the top ones in here.
2. Destin, Todd Pletcher, Javier Castellano, 6-1
Why He'll Win: Didn't run poorly when finishing 6th in the Kentucky Derby off a nine-week layoff. He could move forward now having a recent race and his preferred running style of stalking the pace is ideal for winning the Belmont. He's a player.
Why He Won't: Exaggerator beat him by 5 ½-lengths in the Derby.
3. Cherry Wine, Dale Romans, Corey Lanerie, 8-1
Why He'll Win: He took a big step forward when finishing second behind Exaggerator in the Preakness. Further improvement could put him "right there" this time.
Why He Won't: He's failed to win in all three of his previous graded stakes tries.
4. Suddenbreakingnews, Donnie Von Hemel, Mike Smith, 10-1
Why He'll Win: Was flying late when finishing fifth in the Kentucky Derby. Skipping the Preakness should have him fresh and ready to fire his best shot. He also receives a major jockey upgrade with the Hall of Famer Smith taking over in the irons.
Why He Won't: His deep-closing style rarely succeeds in the Belmont.
5. Stradivari, Todd Pletcher, John Velazquez, 5-1
Why He'll Win: Uber-talented colt that was beaten just four lengths in the Preakness while making just his fourth career start and first against graded stakes company. Top connections, locally-based and ideal running style..
Why He Won't: Given his lack of experience, the relatively-quick three-week turnaround time from the Preakness to the Belmont could be an issue.
6. Gettysburg, Steve Asmussen, Paco Lopez, 30-1
Why He'll Win: His early speed is a positive, but other than that this colt looks like a rank outsider.
Why He Won't: Just 1-for-7 lifetime and 0-for-3 when trying stakes company.
7. Seeking the Soul, Dallas Stewart, Florent Geroux, 30-1
Why He'll Win: A win would be a stretch, but Stewart has had several long shots hit the board in Triple Crown races in recent years. Best used underneath in the exotics.
Why He Won't: Only raced three times with just a Maiden win to his credit. Never raced further than a mile.
8. Forever d'Oro, Dallas Stewart, Jose Ortiz, 30-1
Why He'll Win: Similar profile to his stablemate above as he's started just three times with only a Maiden win on the resume. However, this guy has already gone 1 ⅛-miles and is bred to run all day, so this guy could come on for a minor piece.
Why He Won't: Quick turnaround as he's coming back in less than two weeks since breaking his maiden at Churchill Downs on May 29.
9. Trojan Nation, Patrick Gallagher, Aaron Gryder, 30-1
Why He'll Win: Tough to make an argument for this 0-for-7 Maiden who when last seen was 16th in the Kentucky Derby.
Why He Won't: See above.
10. Lani, M. Mikio, Yutaka Take, 20-1
Why He'll Win: Improved in his second U.S. start when checking in fifth in the Preakness. A similar effort should make him a contender for the minor awards at least.
Why He Won't: Third race in five weeks, has twice been soundly-beaten by Exaggerator, and the Japanese-based connections have little experience at "Big Sandy," as Belmont Park is known.
11. Exaggerator, Keith Desormeaux, Kent Desormeaux, 9-5
Why He'll Win: He's already beaten most of these--some more than once--and the speed figures make him a stand out. Additionally, this colt always fires his best shot.
Why He Won't: The grind of the Triple Crown, as this will be his fourth start in eight weeks. Lani is the only other horse in the field to run in both the Derby and Preakness.
12. Brody's Cause, Dale Romans, Luis Saez, 20-1
Why He'll Win: The distance should be in the wheelhouse of the son of Giant's Causeway.
Why He Won't: Finished eight lengths behind Exaggerator when seventh in the Kentucky Derby. Deep-closing running style also a negative.
13. Creator, Steve Asmussen, Irad Ortiz Jr., 10-1
Why He'll Win: His win in the Arkansas Derby this spring earned a speed figure competitive with those of Exaggerator's, and the rider switch to Ortiz is an upgrade.
Why He Won't: Was no factor when last seen in the Kentucky Derby.
That's the field. Here's the wagering strategy:
Victor Ryan picks for 2016 Belmont Stakes:
Exacta: Destin/Cherry Wine, Stradivari
Trifecta: Destin, Stradivari/Destin, Stradivari, Exaggerator/Destin, Stradivari, Exaggerator, Suddenbreakingnews, Forever d'Oro
Superfecta: Destin in 1st and 2nd with Stradivari, Exaggerator, Suddenbreakingnews, Forever d'Oro/Brody's Cause
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