Why Brooklyn Strong could be a surprise contender for the Belmont Stakes

Brooklyn Strong may be an outsider for the Belmont Stakes following a disappointing showing in the Kentucky Derby, but there are a number of factors that suggest he may perform strongly on June 5.

There were a number of horses that qualified for the Kentucky Derby by earning enough points through their prep race performances that were held out of the Run for the Roses, the Preakness Stakes, or both. These horses are therefore potential entries for the Belmont Stakes.

With different winners of the previous two Triple Crown races, the Belmont becomes more of a high-profile stakes race. This means that trainers and owners will use similar criteria to a general stakes race to determine whether a horse should be entered.

Brooklyn Strong an almost certain entry

One horse that appears certain to be in the Belmont Stakes field is Brooklyn Strong, who just by virtue of his name would indicate that he would be unlikely to skip the biggest race of the year at the track located just beyond New York City's limits, less than 15 miles from Brooklyn. He didn't initially qualify for the Kentucky Derby, with his only points coming with a victory in the 10-4-2-1 Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct on December 5, but was able to enter when other qualified horses scratched.

Brooklyn Strong skipped the Gotham Stakes in favour of preparing for the Wood Memorial, where he never contended despite the slow pace, finishing fifth after racing to his 7/1 pre-race betting odds. However, he was able to pass a couple of horses down the stretch in the mile-and-an-eighth race, indicating he might have something left in a longer race like the Belmont Stakes.

In the Kentucky Derby, where he was a 45/1 long shot anyway, Brooklyn Strong was bumped coming out of the third post position and was never able to work his way through the traffic generated by a 19 horse field. The number of horses in the Belmont will most likely be in the 10 to 12 range and could be as few as eight, with the fewer horses entered being better for Brooklyn Strong.

The last time Brooklyn Strong raced at Belmont Park, he won the $150,000 Black Type Sleepy Hollow Stakes by two-and-a-quarter lengths over a seven-horse field on October 24. Even though the race was at a distance of a mile, he won going away after hitting the half-mile pole in fourth place, three lengths off the lead.

Depending on how many horses fill out the field and who they are, Brooklyn Strong might end up with long odds to win the race, but it might be worth considering him in multiple horse wagers or for a show bet. With all of the entries stretching to the mile-and-a-half distance, look for horses that have shown a tendency to close strongly in their outings.