By HRI Foreign Staff — The 2022 Belmont Stakes, the 154th running of this historic race, is scheduled for June 11, 2022, and horse racing fans worldwide are tingling with excitement and anticipation for what has all the hallmarks of an epic meeting. The so-called Test of Champions is the final leg in the American Triple Crown, and while a new Triple Crown is not possible this year, as in 2021, some of the world’s best thoroughbreds will be on display at Belmont Park.
Essential Quality won the 2021 Belmont Stakes in a time of 2:27.11, narrowly missing out on the course’s fastest-ever time of 2:24 flat set by the legendary Secretariat in 1973. Essential Quality went off at the favorite with the best sportsbooks online and lived up to his pre-race billing, finishing 1 ¼ lengths ahead of the much-fancied Hot Rod Charlie and 12 ½ lengths ahead of third-place finisher Rombauer. After winning the Jim Dandy Stakes, the Travers Stakes, and the Breeders; Cup Classic in 2021, Essential Quality was retired to stand stud.
There Will Be No Triple Crown Winner This Year
There will be no Triple Crown winner at the 2022 Belmont Stakes, extending the wait to four years. This is because Rich Strike won the Kentucky Derby but bypassed the Preakness Stakes, while Preakness champion Early Voting did not run at the Kentucky Derby. Justify was the last horse to win the coveted Triple Crown, the 13th horse to do so. Justify won the Belmont Stakes in 2018. Before that, American Pharoah triumphed in 2015 to become the first Triple Crown champion since Affirmed in 1978.
Irad Ortiz Jr. rides the early Belmont Stakes’ favorite Mo Donegal in the 2022 race. Mo Donegal was languishing in 17th place at one stage of the Kentucky Derby but rallied late and eventually finished in a respectable fifth place, 3 ¾ lengths behind Rich Strike, who went off with +80000 odds.
Mo Donegal’s latest victory came on April 8 at the Wood Memorial at the Aqueduct Racetrack. The three-year-old colt beat Early Voting by a neck in a time of 1:47.96 over 1 ⅛ miles. Beating the 2022 Preakness Stakes winner has filled punters with confidence for this upcoming meeting.
Kentucky Derby Champion Is Much Fancied
Reigning Kentucky Derby champion Rich Strike is the joint-second favorite at the time of writing. Rich Strike defied the odds to win the Kentucky Derby by ¾ lengths, leaving Epicenter in his wake. It was only the second victory of the horse’s career, the first coming on September 21 over one mile at Churchill Downs when he romped home some 17 ½ lengths ahead of Loonshot. Since then, he has improved, and jockey Sonny Leon knows how to get the best from Rich Strike.
The Rodolphe Brisset trained We The People looks set to compete in only his fourth career race at the 2022 Belmont Stakes. He won the first time out on March 12, 2022, at Oaklawn Park, beating The Skipper Too by five lengths. A disappointing run at Oaklawn Park on April 3, 2022, saw We The People finish seventh from nine runners, trailing winner Cyberknife by 13 ½ lengths. However, he returned to winning ways at Belmont Park on May 14 over 1m1f, storming ahead of Golden Glider by 10 ½ lengths.
One horse that is sure to be watched closely is the Todd Pletcher trained Nest. Why? Because Nest is a filly. Only 23 fillies have raced in the Belmont Stakes since 1867, and three of those have won, giving fillies a respectable 13% win rate when entered. Rags to Riches was the last filly to become the Belmont champion, winning in 2007. Could we have a filly champion seeing how there will not be a Triple Crown winner again in 2022?