With different winners in the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, the race won't be producing the 14th Triple Crown winner, but the deep eight-horse field should provide an exciting race over a distance of a mile and a half.
With the withdrawal of Keepmeinmind, there won't be any horses entered in the Belmont Stakes who ran in both of the first two legs of the Triple Crown. However, all but one did run in either the Kentucky Derby or the Preakness Stakes, meaning that only 20/1 longshot Overtook is a newcomer to the Triple Crown series of races with his entry in the Belmont.
Longer Belmont distance will be a huge factor
There are several factors that have contributed to the uncertainty of predicting the results of the Belmont Stakes, especially in the last 20 years. The most significant is that the Belmont Stakes is run over a distance of a mile and a half, which is longer than both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes.
The qualifying races leading up to the Kentucky Derby are run at distances of a mile and a sixteenth or a mile and an eighth, so even the mile and a quarter in the first race of the Triple Crown is generally a stretch for many of the entries. Add another quarter of a mile and it's challenging to predict how a horse will react when competing at this longer distance.
Less time between races also key
Another factor is that the three races are held over the course of five weeks. Most, if not all, top three-year-olds run at most one race a month leading up to the Triple Crown, and there are generally four weeks between prep races at the same tracks.
Since five weeks have passed since the Kentucky Derby, the most recent race for five of the horses in the Belmont Stakes field, including the favourite Essential Quality, the results might go a little more to form. However, Preakness Stakes winner Rombauer, who is at 3/1 in the morning line, raced just three weeks ago and could possibly overtake the current favourite in the odds by post time on Saturday.
Horse racing is unpredictable
The third factor is the inherently unpredictable nature of horse racing, as demonstrated by the odds assigned to the horses, with even a favourite such as Essential Quality at 2/1. Favourites have won the Belmont Stakes just 20% of the time in the 21st century.
When either betting online or heading to many tracks across the country to enjoy races and also take in the Belmont Stakes, just be prepared for virtually anything to happen in the race.