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Home / Articles / Jeff's Grade 1 Belmont Stakes Preview and Pick

Jeff's Grade 1 Belmont Stakes Preview and Pick

By: Jeff Hochman     Date: Jun 5, 2024
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Grade 1 Belmont Stakes | June 8th | Race 12 | | 6:41 PM E

Belmont is currently undergoing a $455 million renovation project. The construction has caused the final leg of the Triple Crown to be moved to Saratoga Race Course. Looks like a wet track with a 50% chance of rain as of Wednesday, June 5th. Here's my horse-by-horse preview, along with my top selection and how to play it.

#1 Seize the Grey (8/1), trained by D. Wayne Lukas & ridden by Jaime Torres

This 3-year-old by Arrogate has won back-to-back graded stakes races (G2 Pat Day Mile and G1 Preakness) with career earnings of $1,819,940. The Myracehorse ownership group has to be on top of the moon with his performance, with four wins and three-thirds in just ten career starts. He will be racing for the third time in five weeks and sixth race since February 24th. It is a very challenging spot. Based on his dosage of 6.11, Seize the Grey will have a very tough time going 1 ¼ miles. Toss!

#2 Resilience (10/1), trained by Bill Mott & ridden by Junior Alvarado

Resilience raced three times as a 2-year-old but did not break his maiden. He made his 2024 debut, winning the maiden special weight at Gulfstream Park, and then finished fourth in the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds, then won the Grade 2 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct. In the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby, he finished 6th, beaten 7 ¾ lengths at odds of 32-1. A son of Into Mischief, he’s banked $494,630 with two wins, one second, and one third-place finish in ten career starts. His speed and class numbers are sub-par compared to the rest of the field. Toss!

#3 Mystik Dan (5/1), trained by Kenneth McPeek & ridden by Brian Hernandez Jr.

Impressive record with three wins, two seconds, and one third-place finish with career earnings of $4,141,360 in eight starts. He made his 2024 debut, winning the Smarty Jones Stakes (listed) at Oaklawn, then finished third in the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes. Finished third in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby and then won the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby by a nose over Sierra Leone at odds of 18-1. Mystik Dan finished second 2 ¼ lengths behind Seize the Grey three weeks ago in the Grade 1 Preakness Stakes. This will be his third race in five weeks and his sixth in just over six months. Toss!

#4 The Wine Steward (15/1), trained by Michael Maker & ridden by Manuel Franco

This son of Vino Rosso has three wins and three seconds in six career starts, earning $467,260. He has finished second in his past three races, the Grade 1 Breeders Futurity, Grade 3 Stonestreet Lexington Stakes, and the Grade 3 Peter Pan, where he lost by just ¾ lengths to Antiquarian. One of his three career wins was a 6 furlong sprint race at Saratoga, where he won by a head with Manny Franco in the irons. The distance should not be a problem, evident by a dosage index of 3.00. He has never run on a wet track, and the forecast calls for a 50% chance of rain. There is a lot to like at a considerable price. Live Long Shot!

#5 Antiquarian (12/1), trained by Todd Pletcher & ridden by John Velazquez

Antiquarian was unraced as a two-year-old. He broke his maiden on a wet track in his second start of 2024 at the Fair Grounds, then finished sixth in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby after breaking through the gate, which is never good. You can draw a line through that race. He shipped to New York (Belmont at Aqueduct) and won the Grade 3 Peter Pan, beating The Wine Steward by ¾ length. I love his profile of improving speed figures in the first four races of his career. The son of Preservationist has two wins and one second with career earnings of $173,000, and his progeny win 24% and finish in the money 51% in all dirt routes over the past five years. His dosage is 2.50, and he should relish the 1 ¼ mile distance. Major overlay. Win Contender and my Top selection!

#6 Dornoch (15/1), trained by Danny Gargan & ridden by Luis Saez

This son by Good Magic has finished first or second in five of seven career starts, earning $552,275. Dornoch broke his maiden in his third start at Keeneland after finishing second in the Sapling Stakes (listed) at Monmouth Park. He went to Aqueduct next to win the Grade 2 Remsen Stakes, beating Sierra Leone by a nose on a muddy track. He made his 2024 winning the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park, then finished fourth in the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes as Sierra Leone got his revenge. In the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby, he finished tenth, beaten 18 lengths at odds of 23-1 after getting shuffled back early and had to check hard. He can improve but owns the field's slowest late-pace speed figure (78). Use Underneath!

#7 Protective (20/1) trained by Todd Pletcher & ridden by Tyler Gaffalione

Protective is still a maiden and has no business participating in this race. He finished second in his only start last year at Saratoga. He made his 2024 debut, finishing fourth in a maiden race at Tampa Bay Downs, then shipped to Aqueduct to finish third in the Grade 2 Wood Memorial and third in the Grade 3 Peter Pan for his final prep. Horses conditioned and trained by Pletcher have won the Belmont Stakes four times, including Rags to Riches, and most recently in 2022 with Mo Donegal, where I picked him to win and place. Toss!

#8 Honor Marie (12/1), trained by D. Whitworth Beckman & ridden by Florent Geroux

Honor Marie broke his maiden in his first start last year at Churchill Downs, finished second in an allowance race, and won the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes. He made his 2024 debut, finishing fifth in the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes, then second in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby, losing to Catching Freedom by just 1 length. In the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby, he finished eighth, beaten 13 ½ lengths at odds of 15-1. Has two wins and two seconds with career earnings of $526,175 in six starts. This son of Honor Code has alternated good and bad races, so he should outrun his odds if that holds up. Even though he has never raced at Saratoga, he has been training exceptionally well. Owns the field's second slowest late pace speed figure (90.5). Mixed results on an off-track. Use Underneath!

#9 Sierra Leone (9/5), trained by Chad Brown & ridden by Flavien Prat

This Gun Runner colt is the deserving morning line chalk with three victories and two seconds earning $1,918,000 in just five career starts. He is a horse with a striking visual appearance. Sierra Leone broke his maiden in his first start last year at Aqueduct then was second in the Grade 2 Remsen beating Dornoch by a nose. He made his 2024 debut winning the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds then won the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland. In the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby he finished second beaten by a nose as the 9-2 second choice. Improving speed figures in his first five races is very impressive. The distance should not be a problem with a dosage index of 2.00. Not sure how Tyler Gaffalione feels about being replaced by Flavien Prat and could force Sierra Leone to run wide going into the first turn. Gamesmanship happens all the time in this sport. Owns the fastest middle pace (104.4) and fastest late pace (115.5) in this field. He performs well on an off-track but not much value. Could be 6/5 by post-time. The One to Beat!

#10 Mindframe (7/2), trained by Todd Pletcher & ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr.

This son, by Constitution, has done nothing wrong, winning both of his starts and earning $87,360. He broke his maiden, winning by 13 ¾ lengths as the even-money favorite at Gulfstream Park. He then won an Allowance race by 7 ½ lengths at Churchill Downs. It’s a little concerning that his speed figure was higher when breaking his maiden, and both wins came with the horse on Lasix. We don’t know how he will perform off the medicine, and we must ask whether he has enough of a foundation to win a grade 1 race after just two career starts. The trainer and jockey combo will attract some money, and he does own the second-fastest late pace (110.5) in the field. I can’t completely dismiss this horse, but I believe he should be higher than 7/2 on the morning line. Win Contender!

Jeff’s Selection: #5 Antiquarian (12/1) to Win, Place, and Show

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