The main event and the final stop on the 2021 Triple Crown, the 153rd Belmont Stakes anchors a star-studded card Saturday at Belmont Park.
A field of eight lines up for the 1 1/2-mile headliner, which returns to its traditional spot on the calendar and appropriate distance after going 9 furlongs last year. Fans will also be in the stands to see the longest and oldest American classic, won last year by Tiz The Law.
The Belmont goes as the 11th on the 13-race card with post time set for 6:49 p.m. ET. The opener goes at 11:35 a.m. and the first of nine stakes – the Grade 1 Woody Stephens – goes as the third race at 12:47 p.m. The finale is set for 8:05, so that’s an 8 1/2-hour day. Be prepared.
NBC carries the Belmont Stakes from 5-7 p.m. ET while our friends at Horse Racing Radio Network also begin their coverage at 5 p.m. NBC Sports Network will also carry much of the undercard from 3-5 p.m.
The handicappers return one more time in search of winners, which they uncovered on the Belmont Friday card that featured Mean Mary's win in the Grade 2 New York and Baron Samedi's score in the Grade 2 Belmont Gold Cup. Seven of the eight handicappers tabbed three of the five stakes winners Friday - Tom Law, Jessica Paquette, John Shapazian, Rob Whitlock, Charles Bedard and Joe Clancy. They came in different ways - some scratched into Overbore in the Tremont or Estilo Talentoso in the Grade 3 Bed o' Roses, while others locked in on Firenze Fire in the Grade 2 True North. Seven of the eight - only Jessica missed - took the free space with Baron Samedi.
Heading into the final Triple Crown card of the season shows Rob Whitlock and John Shapazian tied at the top with 13 winners with Jessica Paquette one back with 12 and Tom Law, Paul Halloran and Sean Clancy tied for fourth with 11. Charles Bedard is alone in seventh with 10 wins and Joe Clancy brings up the back with nine.
Here are the picks for Belmont Stakes Day 2021. Enjoy and good luck.
Woody Stephens Stakes (G1). $400,000, 3-year-olds, 7 furlongs. Post time 12:47 p.m. ET.
Dig deep and you still might not find a more game performance than the one Jackie’s Warrior put up last time winning the Grade 2 Pat Day Mile. Last year’s Grade 1 Champagne winner returns to Belmont and takes on just five foes, including Pat Day runner-up Dream Shake, Bay Shore winner Drain The Clock and Arkansas Derby runner-up Caddo River. Strong start to the day’s stakes program.
Tom: Jackie’s Warrior, Drain The Clock, Caddo River.
Jessica: Jackie's Warrior, Dream Shake, Caddo River.
John: Jackie’s Warrior, Caddo River, Dream Shake.
Rob: Tulane Tryst, Dream Shake, Drain The Clock.
Joe: Jackie’s Warrior, Nova Rags, Dream Shake.
Paul: Jackie’s Warrior, Dream Shake, Nova Rags.
Charles: Tulane Tryst, Jackie’s Warrior, Dream Shake.
Sean: Caddo River, Jackie’s Warrior, Dream Shake.
Brooklyn Stakes (G2). $400,000, 4-year-olds and up, 1 1/2 miles. Post time 1:22 p.m.
Good to see one of New York racing’s most historic events return to Belmont Day program. Familiar cast of distance specialists for 12-furlong test that could give a good read on what’s to come later in the day in the Belmont Stakes. The first three from the Flat Out – Musical Heart, Alajweed and Rocketry are back along with last year’s Birdstone winner Moretti, Tokyo City winner Tizamagician and Isaac Murphy Marathon winner Lone Rock.
Tom: Musical Heart, Moretti, Rocketry.
Jessica: Rocketry, Ajaaweed, Tizamagician.
John: Musical Heart, Tizamagician, Moretti.
Rob: Rocketry, Ry’s The Guy, Ajaweed.
Joe: Tizamagician, Moretti, Ry’s The Guy.
Paul: Ajaaweed, Rocketry, Musical Heart.
Charles: Tizamagician, Moretti, Musical Heart.
Sean: Tizamagician, Musical Heart, Moretti.
Acorn Stakes (G1). $500,000, fillies, 3-year-olds, 1 mile. Post time 2:01 p.m.
Search Results returns off narrow and gutsy runner-up finish to Malathaat in the Kentucky Oaks and draws outside in short field. Daughter of Flatter won the Busher three starts back at the 1-mile trip and stands out against the first three from the Grade 2 Eight Belles in Obligatory, Dayoutoftheoffice and Make Mischief. Travel Column, fifth in the Oaks, and last-out winner Miss Brazil add depth to the field.
Tom: Search Results, Obligatory, Dayoutoftheoffice.
Jessica: Obligatory, Travel Column, Search Results.
John: Miss Brazil, Search Results, Travel Column.
Rob: Obligatory, Search Results, Dayoutoftheoffice.
Joe: Obligatory, Search Results, Dayoutoftheoffice.
Paul: Search Results, Dayoutoftheoffice, Travel Column.
Charles: Dayoutoftheoffice, Travel Column, Search Results.
Sean: Search Results, Obligatory, Dayoutoftheoffice.
Jaipur Stakes (G1). $400,000, 3-year-olds and up, 6 furlongs, turf. Post time 2:41 p.m.
Hyper for the Jaipur; yes, we had to go there. A dozen turf sprinters chasing the big purse and Grade 1, including old veteran Bound For Nowhere for Wesley Ward, Fast Boat for Joe Sharp, defending champ Oleksandra and multiple Grade 1 winner Got Stormy.
Tom: Got Stormy, Somebeyay, Casa Creed.
Jessica: Fast Boat, Casa Creed, Sombeyay.
John: Bound For Nowhere, Fast Boat, Casa Creed.
Rob: Gregorian Chant, Bound For Nowhere, Chewing Gum.
Joe: Got Stormy, Bound For Nowhere, Gregorian Chant.
Paul: Gregorian Chant, Sombeyay, Bound For Nowhere
Charles: Secret Rules, Chewing Gum, Gregorian Chant.
Sean: Bound For Nowhere, Casa Creed, Fast Boat.
Ogden Phipps Stakes (G1), $500,000, fillies and mares, 4-year-olds and up, 1 1/16 miles. Post time 3:18 p.m.
Potential race of the day took a massive hit with defections of Swiss Skydiver and Valiance due to minor illnesses. That leaves five in the field, including gritty Apple Blossom winner Letruska and Grade 1 La Troienne winner Shedaresthedevil. Trainer Brad Cox, who sends out Shedaresthedevil, also runs Grade 2 Doubledogdare winner Bonny South on what could be a big day.
Tom: Shedaresthedevil, Bonny South, Letruska.
Jessica: Letruska, Bonny South, Shedaresthedevil.
John: Letruska, Shedaresthedevil, Bonny South.
Rob: Bonny South, Queen Nekia, Letruska.
Joe: Bonny South, Letruska, Shedaresthedevil.
Paul: Shedaresthedevil, Bonny South, Letruska.
Charles: Bonny South, Letruska, Shedaresthedevil.
Sean: Shedaresthedevil, Letruska, Bonny South.
Just A Game Stakes (G1). $500,000, fillies and mares, 4-year-olds and up, 1 mile, turf. Post time 3:58 p.m.
Godolphin and trainer Charlie Appleby shipped Althiqa and Summer Romance from England with plenty of time to prepare for this. They’ll be tough here against a typical strong group from Chad Brown’s barn in Tamahere, Blowout, Regal Glory and Pocket Square. Zofelle chased Blowout and New York Girl in the Grade 2 Distaff Turf Mile on Derby Day and she’s back for Brendan Walsh, along with Always Shopping for Todd Pletcher and Abscond for Eddie Kenneally.
Tom: Zofelle, Summer Romance, Pocket Square.
Jessica: Pocket Square, Always Shopping, Summer Romance.
John: Pocket Square, Tamahere, Blowout.
Rob: Althiqa, Regal Glory, Blowout.
Joe: Blowout, New York Girl, Pocket Square.
Paul: Tamahere, Pocket Square, Zofelle.
Charles: Althiqa, Sweet Bye And Bye, Always Shopping.
Sean: Pocket Square, Blowout, New York Girl.
Metropolitan Handicap (G1). $1 million, 3-year-olds and up, 1 mile. Post time 4:42 p.m.
Always one of our team’s favorites, the Met Mile rarely disappoints whether in former place on Memorial Day or its current spot on the Belmont undercard. Six entered, including Pegasus World Cup winner Knicks Go, Carter Handicap winner Mischevious Alex, Westchester winner and 2020 Belmont Stakes runner-up Dr Post and Oaklawn Handicap winner Silver State. Any of those could be favored but Knicks Go, off since his fourth in the Saudi Cup Feb. 20, probably will be the public’s choice.
Tom: Knicks Go, By My Standards, Dr Post.
Jessica: Lexitonian, Mischevious Alex, Knicks Go.
John: Knicks Go, By My Standards, Silver State.
Rob: Dr Post, Mischievous Alex, By My Standards.
Joe: By My Standards, Knicks Go, Lexitonian.
Paul: Dr Post, Knicks Go, Mischevious Alex
Charles: Knicks Go, Mischievious Alex, Silver State.
Sean: Knicks Go, Dr Post, Mischevious Alex.
Manhattan Stakes (G1). $750,000, 4-year-olds and up, 1 1/4 miles, turf. Post time 5:38 p.m.
Rematch of Domestic Spending and Colonel Liam, who finished in dead heat for the win in Grade 1 Old Forester Turf Classic five weeks ago on Derby Day. The former closed from eighth last time to share the win. They’ll go further this time, an extra eighth, and there are plenty of others in the field capable. Master Piece Rockemperor and Tribhuvan join stablemate Domestic Spending from trainer Chad Brown’s barn while Channel Cat and Gufo shorten up off their 1-2 finish in the Grade 1 Man o’ War going 11 furlongs.
Tom: Domestic Spending, Colonel Liam, Channel Cat.
Jessica: Channel Cat, Domestic Spending, Colonel Liam.
John: Colonel Liam, Tribhuvan, Gufo.
Rob: Gufo, Colonial Liam, Domestic Spending.
Joe: Bye Bye Melvin, Colonel Liam, Domestic Spending.
Paul: Domestic Spending, Master Piece, Colonel Liam.
Charles: Domestic Spending, Colonel Liam, Bye Bye Melvin.
Sean: Domestic Spending, Tribhuvan, Gufo.
Belmont Stakes (G1). $1.5 million, 3-year-olds, 1 1/2 miles. Post time 6:49 p.m.
The spring classics season comes to a close with a field of eight for the toughest test, including beaten Kentucky Derby favorite Essential Quality and Preakness winner Rombauer. Santa Anita Derby winner Rock Your World, 17th after a troubled start in the Kentucky Derby, figures to dictate the pace with Hot Rod Charlie not far off. Essential Quality, last year’s champion 2-year-old, also figures to be right there early and a win probably puts him at the top of the division. Todd Pletcher seeks his fourth Belmont win in his Hall of Fame year and sends out the trio of Known Agenda, Bourbonic and Overtook.
Tom: Known Agenda, Essential Quality, Rombauer.
Jessica: Essential Quality, Known Agenda, Rombauer
John: Essential Quality, Known Agenda, Rock Your World.
Rob: Rock Your World, Essential Quality, Hot Rod Charlie.
Joe: Rombauer, Rock Your World, Essential Quality.
Paul: Hot Rod Charlie, Essential Quality, Known Agenda.
Charles: Essential Quality, Hot Rod Charlie, Rombauer.
Sean: Essential Quality, Rombauer, Hot Rod Charlie.