There were different winners in the first two jewels of the Triple Crown, so there will be no 14th three-year-old to capture all three legs of the famed horse racing series in 2021.
Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit, trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, tested positive for illegally high levels of the anti-inflammatory betamethasone and could be disqualified from the race if the split blood sample comes back with the same results. If that happens, runner-up Mandaloun will give trainer Brad Cox his first Triple Crown series race victory.
In last week's Preakness Stakes, 12/1 underdog Rombauer outduelled Midnight Bourbon and Medina Spirit to get his first graded stakes win, going away by three-and-a-half lengths. His late speed could be a big factor in the longer Belmont Stakes if his connections decide to enter him in the race, as they have indicated.
Rock Your World ready to rock Belmont
Rock Your World entered the Kentucky Derby after an impressive win in the 100-40-20-10 Grade 1 $750,000 Santa Anita Derby, beating the nine-horse field by four-and-a-quarter lengths after leaving the starting gate at odds of 5/1. The victory left him undefeated as he headed to Churchill Downs, but he wasn't raced as a two-year-old, so the Derby was only his fourth career start.
Coming off the big Santa Anita win, Rock Your World was second in the betting odds at 5/1 by post time for the Kentucky Derby, starting in the 15th position in the 19 horse field. He had trouble getting started, coming out of the gate in 10th place, and wasn't able to better his position, ultimately tiring and fading to finish in 17th.
His handlers chose to have Rock Your World skip the Preakness Stakes, as did the connections for 15 other horses that ran in the Kentucky Derby. Rock Your World is therefore one of several that appear to be headed back to competition in the Belmont, but it will be at least another week until the field really begins to take shape.
The big field in the Kentucky Derby always lends itself to a lot of unpredictability, with the Belmont Stakes sharing the same trait, with much of this unpredictability coming from the lengthened race distance. Very few horses in the third Triple Crown race ever compete at a mile and a half prior to running the Belmont Stakes, so it makes handicapping the race particularly challenging.
There are currently 12 or 13 horses that are possible entries for the Belmont Stakes, so realistically, the total number that will enter the starting gate on June 5 is in the eight to 10 range. Most trainers will be closely monitoring workouts to ensure that their horses are in good enough condition to take on the extra distance.