Tenfold, Bravazo loom as top potential spoilers
The top question the past few weeks has been, “Can Justify win the Triple Crown?”
The more important question could be, “Is there a horse capable of beating Justify?”
Justify has been dominant this year, winning all five of his races and moving within a step of becoming Thoroughbred racing’s 13th Triple Crown winner. He’ll try to complete the feat Saturday in the Belmont Stakes in Elmont, N.Y.
Ten horses were entered Tuesday for the Belmont. Two of the top horses from the earlier Triple Crown races will not compete as the connections of Good Magic (second in the Kentucky Derby and fourth in the Preakness Stakes) and Audible (third in the Kentucky Derby) have decided to skip the race.
Who can beat Justify? A look at the five horses with the best chances, ranked from least likely to most likely.
5. Blended Citizen
You might have forgotten about the horse that was on the also-eligible list for the Kentucky Derby but ultimately failed to make the field. Blended Citizen raced May 12 and won the Grade 3 Peter Pan by 1½ lengths, giving him a valuable victory over the Belmont Park surface. Trainer Doug O’Neill was denied a shot at the Triple Crown in 2012 when I’ll Have Another, winner of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, was found to have a tendon injury the day before the Belmont and missed the race. Perhaps O’Neill gets his atonement.
4. Vino Rosso
He was ninth in the Kentucky Derby and will enter the Belmont well-rested. Even before the Derby, trainer Todd Pletcher was hinting that Vino Rosso was best suited for longer races. As far as Brisnet Speed Figures go, Vino Rosso has been on a good-start-bad-start streak since the beginning of the year. It’s time for another good start.
Many expect Hofburg, who has been off since finishing seventh in the Kentucky Derby, will be the No. 2 betting choice behind Justify. He was the wiseguy horse in the Kentucky Derby, and with just four career starts Hofburg seemingly has more room to improve than most of his competition in the Belmont. But how will his late-running style translate in the Belmont?
Forgotten after a dismal eighth-place finish in the Louisiana Derby, Bravazo is the only horse in the Belmont field other than Justify to compete in both the Kentucky Derby (sixth) and Preakness (second). His Preakness run was impressive, and trainer D. Wayne Lukas said he expects to have an even better horse in the Belmont. Lukas has four Belmont victories, the last coming with Commendable in 2000. Maybe he can recapture the Belmont magic again.
It’s way too early to mention Tenfold in the same breath as Curlin (his sire) or Gun Runner, but trainer Steve Asmussen has been high on this unseasoned colt for a long time. After a disappointing fifth-place finish in the Arkansas Derby, Tenfold showed his promise with an impressive third-place run in the Preakness Stakes. It could be just the kind of race Tenfold needed to take another step forward and ruin Justify’s chances at the Triple Crown.