Belmont Stakes: Justify draws No


The last Belmont Stakes victor to break from post No. 1 was Touch Gold in 1997, although Tapwrit won the third leg of the Triple Crown a year ago from post No. 2. "I just feel that, I think most importantly, the horse is doing well".

The Kentucky Derby and Preakness victor was made the early 4-5 favorite in the 10-horse field for Saturday's race.

The only other horses with single-digit odds are Preakness runner-up Bravazo and Vino Rosso, both at 8-1.

Baffert, who was scheduled to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before Tuesday night's game, can become only the second trainer to saddle more than one Triple Crown victor after "Sunny" Jim Fitzsimmons, who trained Gallant Fox and Omaha.

The D Wayne Lukas-trained Bravazo, who finished a half-length behind Justify at the Preakness, will break from the third post while John Velazquez, a two-times Belmont Stakes victor, will be aboard Vino Rosso in the eighth post.

Belmont-based trainer Todd Pletcher has won "The Test of the Champion" three times - with the filly Rags to Riches (2007), Palace Malice (2013) and Tapwrit (2017).

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"Everybody is always joking in my family, (wife) Jill is always saying, 'They should just put you in the one hole and just draw the rest of the race, '" Baffert said. "We can not think of a better brand than Wheels Up to partner with a horse like Justify".

He followed it up two weeks later at Pimlico, fending off an extended challenge from Good Magic in an enveloping fog on another muddy course, and also from the seven hole, to win by a half-length over Bravazo. Preparing for the longest race of the Triple Crown after running two of the best races of a horse's career is no easy task, but if anyone is up to it, it's Baffert.

"I never do like to draw the rail, but my horses seem to live in it", said Bob Baffert, Justify's trainer.

The 10-horse field was revealed at the draw for post positions. But the most recent Belmont victor who started on the rail was Empire Maker in 2003. American Pharoah last accomplished the feat in 2015.

Showers are expected in Elmont, where the race for 3-year-old thoroughbreds is scheduled to start at 6:37 p.m. ET on Saturday.