Belmont Stakes Day 2022 picks

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The end of the road. Saturday’s 154th Belmont Stakes brings down the curtain on the 2022 Triple Crown season and hopefully brings some clarity to the 3-year-old division.

Rich Strike returns, fresh off a five-week break following his monstrous 80-1 upset in the Kentucky Derby. He meets two he beat that day in Mo Donegal and Barber Road, along with leading filly Nest and Preakness third Creative Minister. We The People breaks from the rail as the favorite.

The Belmont tops an 11-race card that also includes the Grade 1 Met Mile featuring Flightline and Speaker’s Corner, Grade 1 Ogden Phipps featuring champions Letruska and Malathaat, Grade 1 Acorn featuring champion Echo Zulo, Grade 1 Grade 1 Just A Game, Grade 1 Manhattan and more. A huge day on tap and the handicappers are back for one more card this classic season.

The race for top handicapper of the Triple Crown season tightened up after the five stakes Friday at Belmont.

John Shapazian picked two winners Friday to boost his season total to 13, just one back of Charles Bedard heading into Belmont Day. Joe Clancy and Tom Law, who each picked a pair of winners Friday, lurk in third with 11 wins apiece.

The others? Well, they’ll need some help and some winners. Sean Clancy, Rob Whitlock and Jessica Paquette are tied for fifth with nine wins apiece and Paul Halloran trails with eight.

Here are the picks for Belmont Day 2022. Good luck.

Acorn Stakes (G1). $500,000, fillies, 3-year-olds, 1 mile. Post time 12:33 p.m. ET.
Kick off the stakes with a monster group of five (you’ll read and hear that a lot Saturday). Champion Echo Zulu found the 9 furlongs of the Kentucky Oaks a bit long but she still ran gallant to finish fourth and 3 lengths behind the winner. Now she’s back at one turn and at Belmont, where she blitzed the field in last year’s Frizette for Steve Asmussen. The race goes through her, but Matareya might be up to the task off big win in the Grade 2 Eight Belles last time out on Oaks Day.

Jessica: Echo Zulu, Divine Huntress, Inventing.
Charles: Echo Zulu, Divine Huntress, Matareya.
John: Echo Zulu, Matareya, Inventing.
Sean: Matareya, Echo Zulu, Inventing.
Rob: Matareya, Echo Zulu, Divine Huntress.
Joe: Echo Zulu, Matareya, Divine Huntress.
Tom: Echo Zulu, Matareya, Divine Huntress.
Paul: Matareya, Divine Huntress, Echo Zulu 

Longines Just A Game Stakes (G1). $500,000, fillies and mares, 4-year-olds and up, 1 mile, turf. Post time 1:08 p.m.
Chad Brown against the world. Err, Chad Brown’s trio of Regal Glory, Speak Of The Devil and In Italian, against two others. Speak Of The Devil already topped In Italian and Wakanaka in the Grade 2 Distaff Turf Mile on Derby Day and rates edge over her stablemates.

Jessica: Wakanaka, Speak Of The Devil, Regal Glory.
Charles: Regal Glory, Speak Of The Devil, Wakanaka.
John: Speak Of The Devil, Regal Glory, In Italian.
Sean: Speak Of The Devil, Regal Glory, In Italian.
Rob: Speak Of The Devil, Regal Glory, In Italian.
Joe: Speak Of The Devil, Regal Glory, Wakanaka.
Tom: Speak Of The Devil, Regal Glory, Wakanaka.
Paul: Speak Of The Devil, In Italian, Regal Glory. 

Brooklyn Stakes (G2). $400,000, 4-year-olds and up, 1 1/2 miles. Post time 1:47 p.m.
Lone Rock returns to defend his title in the 12-furlong fixture. He romped last year for one of his seven wins on the season. He’s 2-for-3 this year, the lone defeat when we went too short in in the 1 1/16-mile Razorback at Oaklawn. No gimme here though with Max Player, Warrant, First Constitution and Fearless in the mix.

Jessica: Lone Rock, Fearless, Portos.
Charles: First Constitution, Lone Rock, Fearless.
John: First Constitution, Warrant, Lone Rock.
Sean: Lone Rock, First Constitution, Fearless.
Rob: Fearless, Warrant, Lone Rock.
Joe: First Constitution, Lone Rock, Fearless.
Tom: Lone Rock, First Constitution, Warrant.
Paul: Warrant, Fearless, Max Player.

Woody Stephens Stakes presented by Mohegan Sun (G1). $400,000, 3-year-olds, 7 furlongs. Post time 2:22 p.m.
All eyes on Jack Christopher, who many thought was the best 2-year-old last year and could be the best 3-year-old this year. He’s 3-for-3 and returned a winner in the Grade 2 Pat Day Mile last time. He shortens up here and faces Pappacap again, along with Bay Shore and Sanford winner Wit, Gotham winner Morello and two others.

Jessica: Jack Christopher, Wit, Chasing Time.
Charles: Jack Christopher, Wit, Morello.
John: Jack Christopher, Wit, Morello.
Sean: Jack Christopher, Wit, Rappacap.
Rob: Jack Christopher, Wit, Pappacap.
Joe: Jack Christopher, Wit, Pappacap.
Tom: Jack Christopher, Wit, Pappacap.
Paul: Jack Christopher, Morello, Wit

Ogden Phipps Stakes (G1). $500,000, fillies and mares, 4-year-olds and up, 1 1/16 miles. Post time 3:05 p.m.
Teeth were gnashing all over the internet about short fields for Belmont Day. While there might be some room for complaints, not for this one. Champions Letruska and Malathaat, Grade 1 winners Clairiere and Search Results and multiple graded stakes winner Bonny South make up the field. Who else would anyone want? Who else would have a chance? Don’t miss this one; the Breeders’ Cup Distaff come November probably won’t be as good.

Jessica: Letruska, Malathaat, Bonny South.
Charles: Clairiere, Malathaat, Letruska.
John: Letruska, Malathaat, Clairiere.
Sean: Malathaat, Letruska, Search Results.
Rob: Letruska, Clariere, Malathaat.
Joe: Malathaat, Letruska, Search Results.
Tom: Malathaat, Letruska, Clairiere.
Paul: Search Results, Clairiere, Letruska. 

Jaipur Stakes (G1). $400,000, 3-year-olds and up, 6 furlongs, turf. Post time 3:53 p.m.
We say it every year, we’re hyper for the Jaipur. Tip of the cap to our friend Kerry Carlson for that one. Worried about some short prices on those pick 3, 4 and 5 bets? Here’s your chance for a price, with a field of 13 entered. Defending champ Casa Creed is among the group, along with Wesley Ward’s Arrest Me Red, Elusive Quality winner Scuttlebuzz, Gear Jockey and Gregorian Chant. Fun race.

Jessica: Change Of Control, True Valour, Casa Creed.
Charles: Arrest Me Red, Scuttlebuzz, Gear Jockey.
John: Arrest Me Red, Casa Creed, Gear Jockey.
Sean: Gear Jockey, Arrest Me Red, Casa Creed. 
Rob: Casa Creed, True Valour, Arrest Me Red.
Joe: Arrest Me Red, Casa Creed, Smokin’ Jay.
Tom: Gear Jockey, Casa Creed, Scuttlebuzz.
Paul: Scuttlebuzz, Arrest Me Red, Gear Jockey. 

Hill ‘n’ Dale Metropolitan Handicap (G1). $1 million, 3-year-olds and up, 1 mile. Post time 4:43 p.m.
Flightline versus Speaker’s Corner versus Aloha West. That’s how the Met Mile looks, with Happy Saver shortening up and capable considering his class and fondness for Belmont. Flightline takes his show on the road for the first time. He’s 3-for-3 but hasn’t raced since the day after Christmas in the Grade 1 Malibu, an 11 1/2-length victory over Baby Yoda. He’ll face much better than that here in Speaker’s Corner, stylish winner of the Grade 1 Carter and Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Mile in his last two starts for Bill Mott. Aloha West, last year’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner, finished third in tough comeback spot last time against champion Jackie’s Warrior. Race of the day.

Jessica: Aloha West, Speaker’s Corner, Happy Saver.
Charles: Speaker’s Corner, Flightline, Happy Saver.
John: Speaker’s Corner, Flighline, Aloha West.
Sean: Flightline, Speakers’s Corner, Aloha West.
Rob: Aloha West, Speaker’s Corner, Flightline.
Joe: Speaker’s Corner, Flightline, Aloha West.
Tom: Aloha West, Happy Saver, Speaker’s Corner.
Paul: Speaker’s Corner, Flightline, Happy Saver. 

Resorts World Casino Manhattan Stakes (G1). $750,000, 4-year-olds and up, 1 1/4 miles, turf. Post time 5:38 p.m.
The 1-2 finishers from the Grade 1 Man o’ War – Highland Chief and Gufo – are back to take on the 1-3 finishers from the Grade 1 Old Forester Turf Classic on Derby Day in Santin and Adhamo, along with L’Imperator, Tribhuvan and 2020 champion turf male Channel Maker.

Jessica: Highland Chief, Channel Maker, Gufo.
Charles: Santin, In Love, Adhamo.
John: Highland Chief, Santin, Gufo.
Sean: Gufo, Santin, Highland Chief.
Rob: Gufo, Santin, Highland Chief.
Joe: Santin, Gufo, Highland Chief.
Tom: Santin, Gufo, Adhamo.
Paul: Gufo, Santin, Tokyo Gold. 

Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets (G1). $1.5 million, 3-year-olds, 1 1/2 miles. Post time 6:44 p.m.
The main event and the last stop on a most interesting Triple Crown series for 2022. Rich Strike, the 80-1 winner of the Kentucky Derby who skipped the Preakness, returns with five weeks’ rest. He’ll be nowhere near that price and maybe as low as the 3-1 he went off in his first start after winning a, ahem, maiden claimer last September at Churchill. We The People was pegged as the favorite off a blast-off win on a wet track in the Grade 3 Peter Pan, a useful prep for the Belmont. Todd Pletcher runs two – the filly Nest, second in the Kentucky Oaks; and Mo Donegal, a good fifth after a lot of trouble in the Derby. Barber Road finished one slot behind Mo Donegal in the Derby and also comes in with five weeks between starts, while Creative Minster completes the unique triple of an allowance-optional at Churchill on Derby Day, a third in the Preakness and maybe a second Belmont win for Kenny McPeek.

Jessica: Mo Donegal, Barber Road, We The People.
Charles: Mo Donegal, Creative Minister, Rich Strike.
John: We The People, Mo Donegal, Rich Strike.
Sean: We The People, Rich Strike, Mo Donegal.
Rob: Creative Minister, We The People, Rich Strike.
Joe: Rich Strike, Nest, Mo Donegal.
Tom: Mo Donegal, Nest, Barber Road.
Paul: We The People, Nest, Creative Minister.