Magic Man’s preview, predictions for the Belmont Stakes

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Belmont Park

We have now arrived at the final leg of the 2021 Triple Crown. Although no Triple Crown is at stake, a very competitive group of eight horses have been entered for this edition of the Belmont Stakes, one of my personal favorites. Maybe I am showing favor to my birth state.

The Belmont is the centerpiece of a fantastic card of great races and having skimmed through it I am very much looking forward to partaking in the plethora of races. Weather-wise it is expected that sunny skies will prevail after two rainy days preceding Belmont day. The track has a propensity to dry fairly quick and the turf course should be just fine although it probably will have some give to it.

As for the Belmont itself, Essential Quality, the favorite in the Kentucky Derby, was made the early 2-1 favorite here. Rombauer, who upset the Preakness, is the 3-1 second choice and Hot Rod Charlie, who was my Derby pick, is 7-2.

In a contentious Belmont expected, I’ll share my horse by horse preview with analysis followed by selections. Before I get to it, I owe you my readers an apology. Surely you read my preview of the Preakness three weeks ago when I had the 4 horse exacta pegged not in the right order; nevertheless it bothers me that I missed my scheduled radio appearance on Preakness morning. That wont happen this time so all systems are ‘go’ for me this weekend. Now onto the task of dissecting this Belmont.


Belmont S. Presented by NYRA Bets (Grade I) POST TIME – 6:49 PM ET



PP (RACE 11)

Exacta, Trifecta (.50), Super (.10), Pick 3 Races (11-13), Double Wagers

Belmont Park STAKES

Purse $1,500,000. For Three Year Olds. Non-Lasix Race pursuant to 4043.2 (7)(e)(5) Lasix not permitted within 48 hours of post time. By subscription of $600 each, to accompany the nomination, if made on or before January 23, 2021, or $6,000, if made on or before March 29,2021. At any time prior to the closing time of entries, horses may be nominated to The Belmont Stakes upon payment of a supplementary fee of $50,000 to the New York Racing Association, Inc. $15,000 to pass the entry box and $15,000 additional to start. All entrants will be required to pay entry and starting fees; but no fees, supplemental or otherwise shall be added to the purse. The purse to be divided $800,000 to the winner, $280,000 to second, $150,000 to third, $100,000 to fourth, $60,000 to fifth, $45,000 to sixth, $35,000 to seventh and $30,000 to eighth. Colts and Geldings, 126 Lbs.; Fillies, 121 Lbs. The winning owner will be presented with the August Belmont Memorial Cup to be retained for one year as well as a trophy for permanent possessionand trophies to the winning trainer and jockey. One And One Half Miles.

P# PP Horse  Virtual
A/S Med Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L
1 1 Bourbonic (KY) [ ] 3/C K Carmouche 126 T A Pletcher 15/1
2 2 Essential Quality (KY) [ ] 3/C L Saez 126 B H Cox 2/1
3 3 Rombauer (KY) [ ] 3/C J R Velazquez 126 M W McCarthy 3/1
4 4 Hot Rod Charlie (KY) [ ] 3/C F Prat 126 D F O’Neill 7/2
5 5 France Go de Ina (KY) [ ] 3/C R Santana, Jr. 126 H Mori 30/1
6 6 Known Agenda (KY) [ ] 3/C I Ortiz, Jr. 126 T A Pletcher 6/1
7 7 Rock Your World (KY) [ ] 3/C J Rosario 126 J W Sadler 9/2
8 8 Overtook (KY) [ ] 3/C M Franco 126 T A Pletcher 20/1

Owners: 1 – Calumet Farm ; 2 – Godolphin, LLC ; 3 – Fradkin, John and Fradkin, Diane ; 4 – Boat Racing, LLC, Gainesway Stable (Antony Beck), Roadrunner Racing and Strauss, William ; 5 – Inaida, Yuji ; 6 – St. Elias Stable ; 7 – Hronis Racing LLC and Talla, David Michael ; 8 – Repole Stable, St. Elias Stable, Tabor, Michael B., Magnier, Mrs. John and Smith, Derrick

Breeders: 1 – Calumet Farm; 2 – Godolphin; 3 – John Fradkin & Diane Fradkin; 4 – Edward A. Cox Jr.; 5 – Betz, Kidder, B & K Canetti & Jim Betz; 6 – St. Elias Stables, LLC; 7 – Ron McAnally & Deborah McAnally; 8 – Hill ‘N’ Dale Equine Holdings, Inc. &Philip J. Steinberg

Pedigrees (Sire – Dam, by Dam Sire): 1 – Bernardini – Dancing Afleet , by Afleet Alex ; 2 – Tapit – Delightful Quality , by Elusive Quality ; 3 – Twirling Candy – Cashmere , by Cowboy Cal ; 4 – Oxbow – Indian Miss , by Indian Charlie ; 5 – Will Take Charge – Dreamy Blues , by Curlin ; 6 – Curlin – Byrama (GB) , by Byron (GB) ; 7 – Candy Ride (ARG) – Charm the Maker , by Empire Maker ; 8 – Curlin – Got Lucky , by A.P. Indy ;

Sire of Rombauer standing at Lane’s End

Sire of Rock Your World standing at Lane’s End

Equipment Changes: 8 – Overtook – Blinkers On


1. Bourbonic-Winner of the Wood Memorial two back ran up the track in the Kentucky Derby. Now he is being asked to close into what may not be a friendly pace. In this short field, I will not use him on any exotics.

2. Essential Quality-Was the post time favorite in the Kentucky Derby in which he closed to finish 4th after an eventful beginning. He has trained forwardly for this test. I think he should be a major player and should be there when it counts. A must use on my exotics.

3. Rombauer-Surprise winner of the Preakness in his last out and sure it was a breakthrough effort which I thought could happen Something to consider though. Normally when horses throw down an effort like Rombauer did normally you would expect a bounce and I believe that can happen. Flavien Prat who rode Rombayer in the Preakness goes to ride Hot Rod Charlie who ran 4th in the Derby. Also, Essential Quality trounced this horse in their two prior meetings so I may just gamble and throw him completely out.

4. Hot Rod Charlie-This guy was my pick to win the Derby and he finished willingly to be 3rd that day. His workouts in advance of the Belmont have been steady and unspectacular but of all the horses here he in my eyes has the most staying power here. Another who will be on my exacta tickets.

5. France Go De Ina-Made his US Debut in the Preakness in which he was a non factor. His connections must see something to run him back further here but I don’t. He will be nowhere on any wagers for me.

6. Known Agenda-Did not run to his capabilities in the Kentucky Derby as he had the dreaded rail position. He did not offer much in the way of a sustained rally. He has been training very well in advance of the Belmont and will need a new rider as Irad Ortiz got hurt during Thursday’s races at Belmont. No matter I think being back at his home track and how he is going it tells me a bounce-back effort can happen. One I will consider for my exotics.

7. Rock Your World-This guy’s Kentucky Derby was over before it started as he got crushed coming out of the gate. He of the 8 horses here is the most likely to find the front and he is allowed to dictate things he will not stop. At the very least he is a must use on exacta tickets. One of the more likely win candidates for me as well.

8. Overtook-Ran a well beaten 3rd in the Peter Pan over this surface and his numbers simply do not add up. I will not consider him with a deeper and much more talented group.

My Selections

1st–Hot Rod Charlie-In this compact field, I can envision a stalk and pounce trip for HRC. Prat will be right off of the pace and if Rock Your World falters, this guy has first dibs. With no real sustained closer here, he can steal off late.

2nd–Rock Your World-Expected to be the pacesetter in a much shorter field, there is simply no excuse for him here. He probably will make the lead. I believe he has the stamina to take these all the way. It was a real close call between him and my top choice.

3rd–Essential Quality-Made the same rally as Hot Rod Charlie did in the Derby but was widest of all so you can excuse that. I just think he may come up just a little bit short late.

4th–Known Agenda-I fancied this guy to be in the exotics in the Kentucky Derby and he could not overcome the rail draw. The notion this spring is that the Florida-based 3 year olds are not a fast group. In this contest, he looks like one who will sit mid pack behind a pedestrian pace and clunk along before a finish somewhere on the board. He is best used in the back of exotics plays.

There you have a look at the Belmont from the Magic Man’s perspective. I will join Ken Trahan and Ed Daniels on the Three Tailgaters Show on NASH 106.1 FM around 11:40 am on Saturday. I will also live tweet through out the Belmont card with undercard selections and instant analysis. I will also offer up a recap of the 2021 Triple Crown and look ahead to major races that will take us to the Breeders Cup at Delmar in early November.

Until then as always may your winners be plentiful and your wallets be fat.

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George Pepis

Horse Racing Analyst

George Pepis provides racing analysis during each Fair Grounds racing season. He also shares commentary and selections for major stakes events and prep races around the country. In the past, George has hosted sports talk programming on WGSO 990am in New Orleans. He has served as both play-by-play and color analyst on Louisiana high school football radio and internet broadcasts.

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