Belmont 2017: Experts make their picks

Saturday, 10 June 2017, 09:09:26 PM. Odds, post time, and everything you need to know about the race.

The horses for the 149th running of the Belmont Stakes are listed in order of post position, with comments by Joe Drape and Melissa Hoppert of The New York Times. The morning-line odds were set by Eric Donovan of the New York Racing Association.

Purse: $1.5 million guaranteed Distance: 1-1/2 miles

Track record: 2:24 (Secretariat, 1973) Weight: 126 pounds

Post time: Saturday at 6:37 p.m. Eastern

How to watch: NBC has the broadcast, beginning at 5 p.m. NBC Sports Network coverage runs beforehand from 3 to 5 p.m. Coverage will also be streamed on NBC Sports Live.

— Our picks:

Joe Drape’s win-place-show picks: Tapwrit, Senior Investment, Meantime

Melissa Hoppert’s picks: Irish War Cry, Tapwrit, Patch

— Here’s how we see the field:

1. TWISTED TOM

Trainer: Chad Brown Jockey: Javier Castellano Odds: 20-1

Drape: The connections of the Preakness champion Cloud Computing are trying to catch lightning in the bottle twice. Don’t think so.

Hoppert: The Tesio Stakes winner is steadily improving and has a pedigree that suggests he may like the mile-and-a-half distance. Having Brown and Castellano in his corner only helps. I’ll use him in my superfecta.

2. TAPWRIT

Trainer: Todd Pletcher Jockey: Jose Ortiz Odds: 6-1

Drape: He reminds me of Palace Malice, the 2013 Belmont winner, who rebounded from a troubled Kentucky Derby to run big here.

Hoppert: He ran into trouble early in the Derby, but still finished sixth, and his sire, Tapit, has produced two Belmont winners.

3. GORMLEY

Trainer: John Shirreffs Jockey: Victor Espinoza Odds: 8-1

Drape: The Santa Anita Derby winner never got going in the Kentucky Derby. I need higher odds to like him here.

Hoppert: The distance could be an issue for the ninth-place finisher in the Derby, but he is the lone Grade 1 winner in the field (with two).

4. J BOYS ECHO

Trainer: Dale Romans Jockey: Robby Albarado Odds: 15-1

Drape: Here’s your Ohio Derby winner.

Hoppert: The 15th-place finisher in the Derby beat the Preakness winner Cloud Computing earlier this year and has the highest Beyer speed figure of the bunch (102). He is reunited with Albarado, who has gone 2 for 5 aboard the colt but could not ride him in the Derby because of an injury.

5. HOLLYWOOD HANDSOME

Trainer: Dallas Stewart Jockey: Florent Geroux Odds: 30-1

Drape: Stewart runs his horses when they are ready and often hits the board with boxcar-odds winners. He’s worth a look.

Hoppert: He won an allowance race against older horses at Churchill Downs, but he appears to be way out of his league here.

6. LOOKIN AT LEE

Trainer: Steve Asmussen Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr. Odds: 5-1

Drape: Here’s your Indiana Derby winner.

Hoppert: Running second in the Derby and fourth in the Preakness, he is the only contender who has run in the previous two legs of the Triple Crown. But one has to wonder if the grueling campaign has taken a toll.

7. IRISH WAR CRY

Trainer: Graham Motion Jockey: Rajiv Maragh Odds: 7-2

Drape: This one didn’t lift his hooves in Kentucky. He cannot be bet as a low-odds favorite.

Hoppert: He has beaten Classic Empire and Cloud Computing, but his up-and-down year continued when he finished 10th in the Derby. His sire, Curlin, finished second in the 2007 Belmont and produced the 2013 winner, Palace Malice. When he’s on, he’s among the best of this crop, and I’m betting he will return to form.

8. SENIOR INVESTMENT

Trainer: Ken McPeek Jockey: Channing Hill Odds: 12-1

Drape: McPeek won this race with the 70-1 shot Sarava in 2002 and will forever be in my personal Hall of Fame. Don’t leave him out.

Hoppert: This deep closer rallied to win the Lexington Stakes and finish third in the Preakness, and his speed figures are improving. But his pedigree suggests this distance may be a stretch.

9. MEANTIME

Trainer: Brian Lynch Jockey: Mike Smith Odds: 15-1

Drape: Big Money Mike Smith on an intriguing colt who has shown high cruising speed on this track. But was he aided by the sloppy conditions?

Hoppert: This second-place finisher in the Peter Pan at Belmont Park should go straight to the lead in the Belmont. But he won’t be anywhere to be found at the finish.

10. MULTIPLIER

Trainer: Brendan Walsh Jockey: Joel Rosario Odds: 15-1

Drape: Here’s your Illinois Derby winner — for real. He won it in April, and then shot a dud in the Preakness.

Hoppert: The fourth-place Preakness finisher is lightly raced and heading in the right direction. I’m just not sure that’s enough to be a factor in a race like this.

11. EPICHARIS

Trainer: Kiyoshi Hagiwara Jockey: Christophe Lemaire Odds: 4-1

Drape: This Japanese invader can take down a $1 million bonus from the New York Racing Association if he wins. He has been the odds-on favorite in his four victories. He’s the second choice here.

Hoppert: The second-place finisher in the UAE Derby has a pedigree for the distance and appeared to have a solid shot to hit the board until he was treated for lameness Wednesday. Pass.

12. PATCH

Trainer: Todd Pletcher Jockey: John Velazquez Odds: 12-1

Drape: The one-eyed horse will take some money for sentimental reasons. Not mine.

Hoppert: This fan favorite just can’t catch a break: He finished14th in theDerby after breaking from Post 20, and he again drew the far outside post, No. 12, for the Belmont. But his sire, Union Rags, won the Belmont in 2012, and he picks up Velazquez, which should provide hope for his supporters.

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