There won’t be a Triple Crown winner in 2021. Rombauer’s triumph at the Preakness Stakes spoiled that, and we won’t have two of the top horses at the Belmont Stakes this year either. Medina Spirit and Concert Tour have both been banned by New York Racing Association as a result of Bob Baffert’s suspension from horse racing. The legendary trainer’s suspension has led to a smaller field at the 2021 Belmont Stakes, and it’s extremely wide open.

The 153rd Belmont Stakes will be held at Elmont, New York on Saturday, June 5, 2021. This race is scheduled to start at 6:47 p.m. ET with NBC covering the action.

The Horse to Beat – Essential Quality

Essential Quality was the favorite to win the Kentucky Derby five weeks ago. He finished in fourth place at Churchill Downs, just missing the board, and he rested in lieu of participating in the Preakness Stakes. Before his disappointing finish in the Run for the Roses, he had won five straight races, claiming the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity, the TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, the Southwest Stakes, and the Blue Grass Stakes.

His speed ratings and past victories make him the horse to beat at the Belmont Stakes. Essential Quality posted ratings of 105, 109, and 109 in his three graded stakes races in 2021. It would be a shame if this horse didn’t at least hit the board after some stellar performances.

The Contenders


It was surprising to see Rombauer win the Preakness Stakes three weeks ago. He was 11.80-1 to win the second leg of the Triple Crown, planting him in the middle of the pack in terms of contenders. Rombauer had a strong finishing kick down the stretch though, beating Midnight Bourbon by 3 ½ lengths and Medina Spirit by 5 ½ lengths.

At these odds, it’s hard to back Rombauer this time around. He posted a speed rating over 100 for the first time in his career at Pimlico, so he is a little too popular given his track record.

Hot Rod Charlie

It took Hot Rod Charlie four tries to win his maiden, but he has hit the board in every race since that point. Hot Rod Charlie finished runner-up to Essential Quality at the TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, won the Louisiana Derby, and ended up with a show at the Robert B. Lewis Stakes and the Kentucky Derby.

His 109 speed rating at Churchill Downs five weeks ago makes him an intriguing bet at this price. The best way to wager on Hot Rod Charlie might be through WPS betting because of his past results.

Rock Your World

This is the most interesting horse at the Belmont Stakes. Rock Your World won the Santa Anita Derby in April, but he finished a disappointing 17th at the Kentucky Derby after jockey Joel Rosario held him up following a sluggish start. The potential is there for Rock Your World to run well on Saturday, but it’s up in the air whether he will or he won’t.