NEW YORK: After so many issues went proper for Wealthy Strike to win the Kentucky Derby, he’ll possible want much more luck on the Belmont Stakes with a lot stacked towards him.
Wealthy Strike received’t go off at odds of greater than 80-1 this time, however even after bypassing the Preakness to run within the remaining leg of the Triple Crown, he’s not anticipated to be the horse to beat within the area of eight. That distinction belongs to 2-1 morning line favourite We the Individuals, a newcomer to the Triple Crown path who may set the tempo within the 1 1/2-mile race and thrive if it rains in New York on Saturday.
If it’s a moist monitor much like We the Individuals’s romp to victory within the Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park final month, coach Mark Casse doesn’t like anybody else’s probabilities.
“We’re all going to be working for second, even the Derby winner,” mentioned Casse, who’s set to saddle Golden Glider within the Belmont. Golden Glider completed a distant second to We the Individuals within the Peter Pan on Could 14.
Wealthy Strike ran previous 19 different horses in surprising style on Could 7 to turn into the second greatest lengthy shot to win the Derby. Even that took myriad elements to occur: Sharp coaching at Churchill Downs the week earlier than, the withdrawal of Ethereal Street to get into the sector, a scorching tempo, the right journey and the form of acceleration he had by no means proven earlier than in a race.
“Is that his lifetime greatest? I don’t know,” retired jockey Jerry Bailey mentioned. “Historical past will solely inform us that. However I feel he’s going to should run higher than that, really, to win.”
That’s partially as a result of horses don’t usually run as quick early within the longer Belmont, which is called the “check of a champion.” The 154th version of the race is especially shaping up for a plodding tempo with We the Individuals wanting like the one pace horse going up towards Wealthy Strike and 6 different closers on an enormous, sandy monitor that doesn’t are inclined to favor late fees.
“The mile and a half is simply a wholly totally different race,” mentioned Casse, who received the Belmont three years in the past with Sir Winston. “You don’t need to be too far-off.”
The onus for that’s on jockeys, and most notable Wealthy Strike’s Sonny Leon, whose navigation via site visitors on the Derby will go down as among the best rides within the historical past of the game.
“We by no means anticipated to get the journey we bought as a result of to move 19 horses is asking an terrible lot,” coach Eric Reed mentioned this week. “Hats off to him. That’s among the best rides ever.”
However Leon has by no means ridden at Belmont Park earlier than and isn’t scheduled for a mount on the primary, dust monitor earlier than getting aboard Wealthy Strike within the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes.
Having seen Calvin Borel on the prime of his recreation in 2009 misjudge when to make his transfer with Derby winner Mine That Hen and different jockeys make expensive errors on this race, Bailey believes it’s an enormous process for Leon to undertake.
“He’s bought so much to consider,” mentioned Bailey, who’s now an NBC Sports activities analyst. “The Belmont’s totally different as a result of you may really have an effect on the journey you get. Within the Derby, they simply outran him, so he simply performed the hand that was dealt to him. He can just about be in command of his personal hand if he chooses to be as a result of he’s not going to be practically as far again, so he’s going to should resolve the place he needs his horse early within the race after which when it comes time to maneuver, when he really strikes, based mostly upon how briskly — or on this case possibly how sluggish they’ve been going.”
It appears to be like to be a sluggish go. Among the many others within the race, together with Derby horses Mo Donegal and Barber Street, two again from the Preakness in Inventive Minister and Skippylongstocking and filly Nest, there’s an absence of early pace.
That seems to arrange completely for We the Individuals to go wire to wire if jockey Flavien Prat can management the race.
“Flavien Prat, does he sluggish the tempo down as a lot as he can after which attempt to have a lot left on the finish they’ll by no means catch him?” Bailey mentioned. “Does he attempt to unfold the race out someplace within the center and get a cushion? A variety of it’ll rely on how Flavien decides to run the race.”