2022 Belmont Stakes Cheatsheet
By TwinSpires Editorial Team, Sponsored Content

By Vance Hanson (TwinSpires.com)

1. WE THE PEOPLE (2-1) – Triple Crown series newcomer was made the early favorite for this based not only because of his emphatic victory in the Peter Pan (G3), but also the possibility he might reproduce that favorable trip (even going an extra three furlongs) as the potential lone speed from an inside draw; late-developer was so well thought of that connections tossed him in the Arkansas Derby (G1) third out, and he might have made a bigger impact against that group if he not gotten worked up so much in the preliminaries; his form has otherwise been excellent; unless the slop flattered him last out and/or more pressure is applied him, he looks the one they’ll have to reel in.

2. SKIPPYLONGSTOCKING (20-1) – Mo Donegal and Early Voting in their own ways flattered their Wood Memorial (G2) form, but this colt didn’t take much of a step forward at all in the Preakness (G1), finishing farther behind Early Voting than he had at Aqueduct; fairly well-exposed at this point with 10 starts behind him, he’ll naturally have to improve significantly to make an impact against these as one of the field’s longest prices.

3. NEST (8-1) – Barn knows what it takes to beat the boys in this race as they sent out Rags to Riches to edge Curlin in this back in 2007, ending a century-long drought for fillies; the difference is that Rags to Riches won the Kentucky Oaks (G1) decisively and her effort compared favorably with those of the first two legs of that year’s Triple Crown; this daughter of Curlin lost the Oaks and was simply second best that day, and this year’s edition wasn’t as fast (Secret Oath subsequently lost the Preakness by a fair margin); those are the obstacles this filly will have to overcome, though connections certainly feel she’ll give a good account; has several lengths to find, though, and best case scenario might be equaling the effort of My Flag, who ran third in 1996.

4. RICH STRIKE (7-2) – Produced the biggest upset in modern Kentucky Derby (G1) history with a ground-saving run from the back, aided in part by a ridiculously fast pace unlikely to be replicated here; purposely sidestepped the Preakness to aim for this, and connections have long emphasized his preference for gaps between starts, so we should have a horse ready to run to his ability again; what that really is and will be is a bit hard to say as that effort five weeks ago was such an outlier; he might simply be a lover of Churchill – both his wins have been there; the misconception that since this race is so long that it must be favorable to deep closers is generally a false one, so circumstances are sure to be more challenging for him at a far, far shorter price this time.

5. CREATIVE MINISTER (6-1) – Continues to be asked a lot at such an early point in his career, but since debuting three months ago he’s accepted the challenges well; interestingly the only horse in the field to have competed on both the Derby and Preakness cards, he earned a $150,000 supplement to the Preakness after an impressive allowance in Louisville; he got his money back when third best behind Early Voting and Epicenter, a good showing considering his relative lack of experience; wouldn’t put it past him running another good one as he’s handled the rigors of frequent competition so far, and barn had success in this race 20 years ago.

6. MO DONEGAL (5-2) – A slow start and the decision to take him wide for the stretch run cost him in the Derby as Rich Strike, who raced alongside him a good deal early, saved much more ground when making his winning rally; Essential Quality last year and several other Derby alumni recently have won the Belmont after skipping the Preakness, including Pletcher trainees Palace Malice and Tapwrit; his Wood Memorial win was flattered by Early Voting’s score at Pimlico, and he was an obvious go-to Belmont horse to latch on to after his run at Churchill; perhaps will be a touch overbet as he wasn’t, unlike Essential Quality, arguably best at Churchill, but otherwise a logical candidate.

7. GOLDEN GLIDER (20-1) – Relative class was pretty much determined from his prep runs at Tampa and Keeneland – this wasn’t a potential Kentucky Derby upsetter (though the same was said about Rich Strike!); at least his run in the Peter Pan resulted in a better placing, but again he wasn’t in the same league as the winner, and he just barely scraped home second best in a photo; must improve a number of lengths still to have a chance in this deeper spot.

8. BARBER ROAD (10-1) – Earned a reputation over the winter as a hard-knocking type who was fairly reliable at getting a piece of the purse at nice odds; the Oaklawn road to the Kentucky Derby was not highly rated, however, thus his huge price at Churchill Downs; but even there he lived up to his reputation with a better-than-expected sixth-place finish; surely the pace meltdown helped contribute to that, and as noted that pace scenario will be virtually impossible to recreate here; shades come off, and as usual he’s best used underneath in vertical exotics rather than as a win prospect.