HALLANDALE BEACH, FL, June 7. 2022 – There is no question that impressive Peter Pan Stakes winner We The People has been the buzz horse in the weeks leading up Belmont 154.
As the highly likely loose leader, especially now with rail position, he will enjoy a tactical advantage plus an important recent race over the track.
Here’s the Skinny on the Test of the Champion entrants:
1-WE THE PEOPLE 2-1: As stated, he undoubtedly will have an early advantage curling into the lower first turn, especially given last weekend’s sharp blowout. His Peter Pan was visually impressive and was run in fast time. The eight horse field ensures this will be a rider’s race. Some rival is likely to pressure him at some point, likely midway down the backstretch, then we’ll find out about his ultimate class and ability to stay a mile and a half. The “now horse.”
2-SKIPPYLONGSTOCKING 20-1 His wide draw in the Preakness Stakes did him no favors and he raced wide throughout, even wider entering the lane. In relative terms, he did well to be beaten 7-1/2 lengths following his good third in the Wood Memorial previously, a race that was better than most observers believed pre-Preakness results.
3-NEST 8-1 She may or may not be a better filly than the Oaks winner, Kentucky Oaks trips having somewhat of an effect. Luis Saez timed secret Oath’s late run perfectly while Nest, compelled to move earlier as the race was run, made a longer run, harder to sustain. And there’s no telling how much her huge effort winning Keeneland’s Ashland previously affected her in Louisville. No distance worries here given her lengthy pedigree. Of course, Todd Pletcher has won three of these, including one with tomboy Rags To Riches.
4-RICH STRIKE 7-2 Given the storylines, he would be my sentimental choice. Not only that, but he has the look of an improving three-year-old. His training at Churchill Downs and his Belmont gallops look spot on. Sharpened, he will be closer to the pace than his past performances indicate. His trainer says that if Ritchie is within six lengths of the lead midway of the far turn, they had better watch out. Eric Reed knows his horse. The trainer’s demeanor pre- and post-Derby gives him credibility. And his horse just might be “the best horse” in this. That’s why they run the races.
5-CREATIVE MINISTER 6-1 Here’s another peaking runner and improving at the right time. His allowance score on the Derby undercard was notable for its dominance, and he was a very good third in Baltimore. Going longer and given a softer pace, he’s another contender that may wind up in good mid-pack position. He’s certainly live and he’s capable. Ken McPeek knows how to do this.
6-MO DONEGAL 5-2 Along with his filly stablemate, they have had a good five weeks since Derby weekend. Another deep closer that might not have too much work to do given the Belmont pace dynamics, his late run is relentless and he never fails to fire. Props for his Derby effort–and I understand his late rally was pace-advantaged. But hanging one’s handicapping hat on that variable might prove costly. This is a very nice colt that has been training purposefully alongside his stablemate.
7-GOLDEN GLIDER 20-1 Mark Casse knows how to do this, too, and we have had several conversations about this guy. I have been a fan since Tampa Bay Downs and even made a Derby Future wager in Las Vega on this guy, so we like him. But not to win this and will take him for a slice of the vertical pie. Two things in his favor: His one-paced style suits the Belmont trip and he never stops trying. Showed class to win place photo in the Peter Pan.
8-BARBER ROAD 10-1 He’s what old-schoolers such as I would call a real sweetheart. He has six exacta finishes in nine lifetime runs, including two victories. He’s yet another who finishes his races relentlessly but even through he’s an off-the-pace type capable of dropping in to save ground, his wide draw did him no favors. Saving some ground is no automatic despite the rider’s wishes. Perhaps the worst thing he could do would be to jump too sharply from the barrier.
Horseplayers have another four days to sort this all out.