Now that Nyquist is out of the picture, Exaggerator is the Belmont Stakes betting favorite to win the 148th running of the Test of the Champions. And even if Nyquist weren’t still at Pimlico recovering from illness, Exaggerator has already proven he can beat Nyquist, which he actually did at the Preakness Stakes. Now that Exxie has been able to cross that out of his bucket list, what’s to stop him at Belmont? And while there will be no Triple Crown Champion this year, Exaggerator can still join the distinguished club of horses who have won both Preakness and Belmont – and which includes the likes of Pillory, Capot, Nashua, Damascus, Risen Star, Hansel, Tabasco Cat, and others.
However, people betting on the Belmont Stakes should not neglect other contenders such as Destin, Cherry Wine, and Governor Malibu. Destin looked good at the Kentucky Derby, and the eight week layoff between the Tampa Bay Derby and the Run of the Roses may have hurt his chances in the latter, the five weeks between Kentucky and New York will have freshen Destin up just enough but not too much so that he can give Exaggerator a run for his money. Additionally, they say a horse is only as good as his trainer – or at least they should say that – and Destin’s trainer Todd Pletcher has been very successful at Belmont Park in the last decade, finishing first in 2007 with Rags to Riches and 2013 with Palace Malice; second in 2006 with Bluegrass Cat, in 2009 with Dunkirk, 2011 with Stay Thirsty, and 2014 with Commissioner; and third in 2006 with Sunriver and 2008 with Ready’s Echo.
Cherry Wine is another Belmont Stakes betting favorite. He must know that coffee’s for closers only because he closed strong at the Preakness, even having the nerve to make Nyquist finish third. Unfortunately, Belmont is not particularly closer-friendly. However, in a pack of deep closers such as Brody’s Cause, Creator, Lani, or Mo Tom, Cherry Wine may be the one in best shape – other than Exaggerator – and people betting on the Belmont Stakes could reasonably expect him to finish in the top three once again.
Speaking of the top three, Governor Malibu has finished in the money in all of the seven races in which he has participated – including a quick-closing second in Belmont's Grade II Peter Pan run May 14th. Interestingly, Malibu’s trainer Christopher Clement had Tonalist win the Belmont in 2014 after a win in the Peter Pan. But back to Belmont Stakes betting favorite Exaggerator on June 11th, he will be the horse to beat and could secure the Eclipse Award as champion 3-year-old male with a win at Belmont Park.