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2022 Belmont Stakes: Ranking Each of the Horses

Sorting through a Triple Crown field filled with new shooters and last-second scratches can be a challenge, which is why Matthew DeSantis has you covered. Ahead of the Tuesday, post draw, Matthew gives you his rankings of the 2022 Belmont Stakes field.
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2022 Belmont: Ranking Each of the Horses

We made it to the final jewel of horse racing's Triple Crown. There are some new and familiar faces running in the 1.5 mile Belmont Stakes AKA The Test of Champions. Kentucky Derby champion, Rich Strike, returns from a five-week layoff since his thrilling upset at Churchill Downs. The late-charging pair of Mo Donegal and Barber Road are the only other Kentucky Derby runners to join him in the field. However, Kentucky Oaks second-place finisher, Nest, will challenge the boys three weeks after the filly that beat her (Secret Oath) finished fourth at the Preakness.

Creative Minister and Skippylongstocking are coming back on three week's rest having last run at the Preakness Stakes. Finally, We the People and Golden Glider both ran four weeks ago at the Grade III Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont. It's an intriguing field that is the inverse of the Kentucky Derby in that there is minimal early speed and most of the field are closers. Below I rank the entire group based on how likely they are to win the third jewel of the Triple Crown. Here are the complete Belmont Stakes odds

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8. Skippylongstocking

After a 5th-place finish at the Preakness Stakes, Skippylongstocking comes back for the final leg of the Triple Crown. He showed that he belonged at the Preakness, but it was hardly the type of performance that makes you think that he will unlock something new at an even longer distance. To that point, he was nearly overtaken for fifth place at the wire by Simplification who had pulmonary bleeding during the race. Skippy will not have much pace to run into and has not proven to be the class of closer as others in the field.

7. Nest

This may raise some eyebrows, but I am not particularly high on the filly who finished second at the Kentucky Oaks. What she has going for her is that this is not a particularly loaded field and she has a cool pedigree for this race. Her dams sire was AP Indy who was the sire of Rags to Riches who was the last filly to win the Belmont Stakes back in 2007. The colt she beat that day was Curlin who is Nest's sire. Distance will not be an issue for Nest, but the race does not set up well for her and she was also not as dominant in her division as Rags to Riches was 15 years ago. Finally, the fact Secret Oath ran fourth just three weeks ago at the Preakness may not bode well for her chances against the boys.

6. Golden Glider

Last seen finishing second to We The People at the Grade III Peter Pan, Golden Glider should sit a decent trip not too far off the leader. However, he also proved no match for We the People four weeks ago and adding more distance is unlikely to benefit him. While the second at the Peter Pan may look good on paper, he was losing ground to the winner and was in a three-way photo for second, so he could have just as easily finished fourth. He feels like a plodder who may finish ahead of a few fatiguing horses.

5. Rich Strike

Yes, I have the Kentucky Derby winner as my fifth most likely winner of the Belmont Stakes. He will get the exact opposite race set up as he had at Churchill Downs five weeks ago where we witnessed historic early speed that melted the field down for a closer. The Belmont features only one horse with early speed and will likely have reasonable early fractions. Additionally, he is leaving the friendly confines of Churchill Downs which is the only track where he has ever won. I believe Rich Strike is an improving horse but I also believe he benefited from an incredible confluence of events to win the Kentucky Derby. I do not see nearly any of those same events playing out this Saturday in New York.

4. Barber Road

Comes back from a 6th-place finish at the Kentucky Derby. He's a stone cold closer in a race where there is unlikely to be significant early speed. However, the smaller field should help him bypass traffic issues and he will love the distance as his grand sire, Tapit, has been in the pedigree line for four of the last six Belmont Stakes winners including last year's winner Essential Quality. His jockey, Reylu Gutierrez, will give him the best ride possible, but I am just not sure he will get the race shape to end up in the winner's circle.

3. Creative Minister

He was a late addition to the Preakness field and represented himself well hitting the board in a third-place finish. His owners felt so strongly about the horse they ponied up $150,000 to enter him that day at Pimlico. While no horse will have run in all three legs of the Triple Crown this year, Creative Minister will be the only horse in the field who will be running for the third time in five weeks as he ran in an allowance race on the Kentucky Derby undercard. While that may sound ominous, he is still a lightly-raced horse who appears to have come out of the Preakness in great shape. Creative Minister has yet to run his best race and should get a nice set up if he can leverage some early tactical speed to sit off We the People. If he can carve out the right trip, he absolutely has a shot.

2. We the People

We the People is getting a second bite at the Triple Crown apple. After an impressive allowance victory in March at Oaklawn Park he stepped up to run in the Grade I Arkansas Derby where he promptly finished seventh thus dashing his Kentucky Derby hopes. It was probably too much too soon seeing as it was only his third career race. However, he came back in his next start to wire the field at the Grade III Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park and now is among the favorites for the Belmont Stakes. His performance at the Peter Pan was on a sealed track and he faced zero pressure on the front end. So, why do I have him #2 in my rankings? He is the only horse with early speed and he should be allowed to carve out whatever fractions he wants on the front end of this race. Additionally, like Barber Road, he has the Tapit siring line and shares the same lineage as 2020 Belmont Stakes winner Tiz the Law. Pace and pedigree are massive factors when picking the Belmont.

1. Mo Donegal

Mo Donegal takes my top spot in the Belmont Stakes rankings for a few reasons. Like Barber Road and Rich Strike, Mo Donegal is a closer and as I have outlined above, the Belmont is unlikely to feature much early speed. So why feel confident in Mo Donegal? His performance at the Grade II Wood Memorial is the race that gives me confidence. That day, Preakness Stakes champion Early Voting set reasonable fractions on the front end and faced minimal pressure. Meanwhile, Mo Donegal was near the back of an eight-horse field before weaving through traffic and nabbing Early Voting at the wire. His ability to close without much pace on a horse who has the caliber to win the Preakness should answer any questions about his class. He should get a nearly identical trip and race set up while not having to deal with the traffic issues he had at the Kentucky Derby.

Check back throughout the week for more Belmont Stakes and graded stakes coverage.

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Horse Racing

Matthew DeSantis is a horse racing handicapper with a fondness for lightly raced horses with improving speed figures. You can find him at the track playing surface changes and second off the layoff.


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