Thanks to Justify’s hard fought ½ length victory in the Preakness Stakes we have our first Triple Crown bid since American Pharoah in 2015. After a dozen unsuccessful attempts since 1978 (not counting I’ll Have Another who didn’t race in the Belmont due to an injury), American Pharoah accomplished one the rarest feats in sports by becoming just the 12th Triple Crown winner. In this year’s Belmont Stakes, Justify has 9 other rivals to compete with and none of them really jump off the page as a real threat. However, living through and following so many great horses win the Kentucky Derby and Preakness and fall short at the Belmont, we know that this 1 ½ mile test is a different beast. In fact, it is THE beast, as none of these horses will likely run another 1 ½ mile race again in their careers.

StatJacks has ran a data analysis of over 120 key horses across over 170 key races to develop Power Rankings for this year’s contenders. Please note that with all of Gronkowski’s races being run overseas, his ranking is a little murky. As expected, Justify takes top honors in the ranking, but we also added key trends over the last 20 Belmont Stakes that will help you decide who to choose for this year’s race.


Power Rankings:

Ranking

Horse

Post

ML

Jockey

Projected Lengths Back

1

Justify

1

4-5

M. Smith

-

As stated above, accomplishing the Triple Crown is an extremely rare feat with only 1 Belmont winner in the last 13 attempts.  In addition, only 3 of the last 20 betting favorites have won the Belmont. A lot of talk has been about the #1 Post producing the most Belmont winners, but there has only been 1 in the last 20 years and that was on a 6 horse field.  The most outside post has had more winners with 4 of the last 17. But we don't think post position matters in this race. The fact is, he's the best horse in the field and his early pace sets up well for this long race. It's just a matter of if he can get the distance and withstand a charge from fresher horses.

2

Hofburg

4

9-2

I. Ortiz Jr.

5.9

Hofburg is the 2nd best horse in the field.  StatJacks had him ranked 2nd in Power Rankings next to Audible going into the Kentucky Derby.  He fits the bill with prior Belmont winners as 15 of the last 20 have raced in the Kentucky Derby and bypassed the Preakness.  He is the most likely to pull the upset.

3

Tenfold

7

12-1

R. Santana Jr.

7.4

No horse in the last 20 years has not ran in the Kentucky Derby but ran in the Preakness and won the Belmont.  Tenfold is the only horse in this race that fits that label. He, along with Justify, did not race as a 2 year old.  Only 1 Belmont winner in the last 30 years didn't race as a 2 year old. Of course Justify beat the 'Curse of Apollo' in the Kentucky Derby so we know anything can happen.

4

Vino Rosso

8

8-1

J. Velasquez

7.9

Vino Rosso is 1 of 4 horses in this race that has ran in the Kentucky Derby and not the Preakness.  With 15 of the last 20 Belmont winners fitting that bill, he will get a fresh run at Justify.

5

Bravazo

3

8-1

L. Saez

8.0

Although Bravazo finished 2nd to Justify in the Preakness, we are not figuring him to factor here.  He is the only horse next to Justify to race in all 3 Triple Crown races and he's not good enough to place in this race.  

6

Blended Citizen

10

15-1

K. Frey

11.5

Blended Citizen has an outside chance for an upset.  He was the winner of the Grade II Peter Pan Stakes on this track 4 weeks ago.  He is looking to be the first Peter Pan winner to win the Belmont since Tonalist ruined California Chromes Triple Crown chances in 2014.  Of the three horses making their Triple Crown debut, he is the highest ranked. 5 of the last 20 Belmont winners were on their Triple Crown debut.  

7

Noble Indy

9

30-1

J. Castellano

12.1

Noble Indy is another fresher horse to run at Jusify with him taking off the Preakness.  He finished 17th in the Kentucky Derby and he'll be a long shot here. Longer shots have won the Belmont in the past.  

8

Free Drop Billy

2

30-1

R. Albarado

13.3

Free Drop Billy did one better than Noble Indy in the Kentucky Derby finishing 16th.  Also a fresh horse taking off the Preakness but a long shot here.

9

Gronkowski

6

12-1

J. Ortiz

17.1

With all of Gronkowski's races being overseas, he's the hardest to judge.  His ranking here may or may not be fair, but we don’t have him factoring in this race.  The last Belmont winner to be bred overseas was Go and Go in 1990.

10

Restoring Hope

5

30-1

F. Geroux

17.9

We are giving Restoring Hope no hope in this one with him being ranked last.  He was far back in the Pat Day Mile on Derby day in his last race and his lone win was in a Maiden race.  A win here would be very surprising.

  • StatJacks Power Rankings are derived from an analysis of past performances of over 120 key horses across over 170 key races leading up to the Belmont Stakes.
  • Power Rankings used to determine best horse on a 1 1/2 mile race, does not consider pace factors between horses or post position
  • Using StatJacks Power Rankings does not guarantee success, please gamble responsibly