Deconstructing the 2022 Belmont Stakes: A Constitutional Law Primer

The Belmont Stakes: A Test of Champions

When it comes to the Belmont Stakes, the widely held belief that it favors closers is a misconception. Contrary to intuition, the 1 ½-mile race is not a natural playground for deep closers. In fact, since 2010, there has been only one closer to win the Belmont Stakes – Creator in 2016. Out of the last 15 Belmont Stakes winners, 13 of them were within 4 ½ lengths of the leader after the first half mile. So, while it may seem counterintuitive, being a closer does not necessarily give a horse an advantage in this grueling race.

The Belmont Stakes: A Battle of Speed and Stamina

The Belmont Stakes, known as the “Test of the Champion,” is the longest distance any of these horses will ever run. The track conditions at Belmont Park, with its deep sand that tends to wear on a horse’s legs, make it a challenging course. This unique combination of distance and track conditions favors horses with both speed and stamina, rather than just closers. A deep closer relying purely on their late kick may struggle to make up the ground against front-runners who can maintain a strong pace throughout the race.

Trends to Watch in the 2022 Belmont Stakes

As we explore the 154th running of the Belmont Stakes, let’s explore some key trends to watch for in this year’s race. We have an eight-horse field, the lightest of the Triple Crown races. Among the contenders are three horses from the Kentucky Derby and two from the Preakness Stakes. It’s important to consider pedigree when assessing the chances of each horse. Bloodlines play a significant role in the outcome of the Belmont Stakes. In the past 15 years, 14 of the winners were progeny of sires who won Grade 1 races of nine furlongs or longer. While the dominant sire in recent Belmont Stakes history, Tapit, does not have a direct representative in this year’s race, two of his sons, We the People (sired by Constitution) and Barber Road (sired by Race Day), have contenders.

Another trend worth noting is the performance of favorites in the Belmont Stakes. Last year’s winner, Essential Quality, was the fourth winning favorite in the past seven years. However, the average winner odds over the last two decades stands at 13.48/1, indicating that longshots have historically fared well in this race. When favorites falter, it creates an opportunity for horses with higher odds to shine. In the past decade, four Belmont Stakes winners had odds of 10/1 or greater, including Sir Winston in 2019 and Creator in 2016.

Field Breakdown: Assessing Each Contender

Skippylongstocking

Starting from post position 2 with morning-line odds of 20/1, Skippylongstocking is one of the two horses from the Preakness Stakes in this field. Although he finished fifth in the Preakness, he has shown resilience and consistency throughout his career, with in-the-money finishes in half of his starts. However, Skippylongstocking lacks stakes victories and is yet to prove himself at the highest level. His grinding style may find him at the bottom of the superfecta against the tougher competition in the Belmont Stakes.

Barber Road

Drawn in post position 8 with odds of 10/1, Barber Road has established a reputation for strong late runs from seemingly nowhere. He finished sixth in the Kentucky Derby at long odds and has consistently outrun expectations in various races. However, his achievements have come without securing a stakes win, which raises questions about his ability to step up to the highest level. With Eclipse Award-winning jockey Joel Rosario aboard, Barber Road may be capable of securing a spot on the board, but stronger closers stand in his way.

Golden Glider

Starting from post position 7 with odds of 20/1, Golden Glider’s recent performances on the Derby trail may not inspire confidence. However, pedigree and history can provide some reassurance. As the progeny of former Horse of the Year Ghostzapper, who won a Grade 1 race at a distance surpassed by the Belmont Stakes, Golden Glider carries the potential for a surprise victory. Trainer Mark Casse, who guided Sir Winston to a Belmont Stakes win at odds of 10/1 in 2019, knows how to navigate the challenges of this race. While Golden Glider’s chances may appear slim, unexpected upsets have occurred in the past.

Rich Strike

Breaking from post position 4 as the 7/2 morning-line favorite, Rich Strike has captured significant attention since his shocking 80/1 upset victory in the Kentucky Derby. However, this closer faces a challenging task in the Belmont Stakes. The pace scenario will be very different from the Derby, where Rich Strike capitalized on a hot pace to make his late rally. Moreover, no horse has won the Derby, skipped the Preakness, and triumphed in the Belmont since Gato del Sol in 1982. Considering his odds and lack of success outside of Churchill Downs, caution should be exercised before placing too much confidence in Rich Strike’s chances.

Creative Minister

Starting from post position 5 with odds of 6/1, Creative Minister remains somewhat of an enigma. With limited experience and a mixed track record, it’s difficult to gauge where he truly stands among this field. Trainer Kenny McPeek expresses trust in the horse’s ability to handle various levels of racing, but his performance in the Preakness suggests he may not be quite at the top tier. Considering the historical rarity of Preakness horses winning the Belmont Stakes, Creative Minister faces an uphill battle. However, McPeek has a knack for producing unexpected results, as demonstrated by his past success with longshots in this race.

Nest

Breaking from post position 3 with odds of 8/1, Nest represents the formidable Todd Pletcher stable, known for its success in the Belmont Stakes. Pletcher has trained three previous winners and has a track record of competitive performances in this race. Nest’s pedigree, with Curlin as the sire and A.P. Indy in the bloodline, suggests the ability to handle the demanding distance. With two dominant wins in her last two starts, Nest has never finished out of the trifecta. These factors, combined with Pletcher’s expertise, make Nest a strong contender to factor into the top positions.

Mo Donegal

Starting from post position 6 as the 5/2 second choice, Mo Donegal emerges as the top closer in the field. Despite the disadvantageous rail draw in the Kentucky Derby, Mo Donegal managed a solid fifth-place finish while making up significant ground. His pedigree combines the speed of Uncle Mo with the stamina of A.P. Indy and Tabasco Cat, reinforcing his ability to excel over this demanding distance. With a strong record of graded stakes victories and a renowned trainer like Todd Pletcher, Mo Donegal is well-positioned to contend for a top spot in the Belmont Stakes.

The Likely Winner: We the People

Breaking from the rail as the 2/1 morning-line favorite, We the People is the horse to watch in the 2022 Belmont Stakes. Despite stepping up in class from his Peter Pan victory, where he dominated by 10 ¼ lengths, We the People possesses several compelling qualities. Winning a race at Belmont Park is no small feat, and his ability to handle the track’s unique conditions sets him apart. Furthermore, his disappointing performance in the Arkansas Derby can be attributed to a poor trip rather than a reflection of his ability. We the People has won three of his four career starts and is the only speed horse in a field dominated by closers. With jockey Flavien Prat guiding him, a comfortable rhythm could allow We the People to maintain his lead and secure victory, especially if the track conditions favor his running style. Keep an eye out for a potential triumph by We the People in the 2022 Belmont Stakes.

Conclusion

The Belmont Stakes provides an exciting clash between speed and stamina. While the perceived advantage of closers may not hold in this race, the right combination of traits can propel a horse to victory. As we dissect this year’s field, it is important to consider the historical trends, pedigree, and track conditions that shape the outcome of the Belmont Stakes. With a mix of experienced trainers, proven bloodlines, and surprising longshots, the 2022 Belmont Stakes promises to be a thrilling spectacle of horseracing.

FAQs

1. Can a closer win the Belmont Stakes?

While closers can certainly contend in the Belmont Stakes, recent trends suggest that horses with a more balanced running style tend to have an advantage. The longer distance and unique track conditions at Belmont Park require both speed and stamina to succeed. Only one closer has won the Belmont Stakes since 2010, highlighting the challenges faced by deep closers in this race.

2. What role does pedigree play in the Belmont Stakes?

Pedigree plays a significant role in the Belmont Stakes, as bloodlines can indicate a horse’s suitability for the demanding distance. Recent winners have often descended from sires who won Grade 1 races of nine furlongs or longer. While the dominant sire of Belmont Stakes winners, Tapit, is not represented in this year’s race, other well-bred contenders with strong pedigrees are in the mix.

3. How have favorites fared in the Belmont Stakes?

While favorites have occasionally emerged victorious in the Belmont Stakes, they have historically faced fierce competition. The average winning odds over the past 20 years stand at 13.48/1, indicating that longshots often prevail in this race. However, recent years have seen some success for favorites, with four winning favorites in the last seven editions of the Belmont Stakes.

4. Are there any noteworthy longshot winners in the history of the Belmont Stakes?

The Belmont Stakes has produced several memorable longshot winners over the years. Notable examples include Sarava, who triumphed at odds of 70.25/1 in 2002, and Da’Tara, who shocked the racing world with odds of 38.50/1 in 2008. These surprise victories illustrate the unpredictable nature of this prestigious race.

5. How does the Belmont Stakes compare to other Triple Crown races?

The Belmont Stakes stands apart from the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes as the longest and most demanding race of the Triple Crown series. Its unique distance, track conditions, and historical trends make it a true test of champions. While winning the Triple Crown remains a rare feat, the Belmont Stakes has a reputation for producing unexpected outcomes and thrilling upsets.

Doug I. Jones

Doug I. Jones

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