Albaugh Family Stables' Grade 1 victor Free Drop Billy will be a decided long shot against Kentucky Derby and Preakness victor Justify in Saturday's 2018 Belmont Stakes, but Romans wouldn't want to be anywhere else.
On June 6, the team behind Triple Crown contender Justify (Elliott Walden, President and Chief Executive of WinStar Farm, co-owners with China Horse Club, Head of Plains Partners, and Starlight Racing) announced Wheels Up, the revolutionary member-based private aviation company, as an exclusive sponsor.
Justify, who previously won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, is one win away from becoming the second Triple Crown victor in the last four decades.
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The field for the 150th Belmont in post position order with jockeys and odds: Justify, Smith, 4-5; Free Drop Billy, Robby Albarado, 30-1; Bravazo, Luis Saez, 8-1; Hofburg, Irad Ortiz Jr., 9-2; Restoring Hope, Geroux, 30-1; Gronkowski, Jose Ortiz, 12-1; Tenfold, Ricardo Santana Jr., 12-1; Vino Rosso, John Velazquez, 8-1; Noble Indy, Javier Castellano, 30-1; Blended Citizen, Kyle Frey, 15-1. Preparing for the longest race of the Triple Crown after running two of the best races of a horse's career is no easy task, but if anyone is up to it, it's Baffert.
A total of 23 horses have won the Belmont from the No1 post since records were kept in 1905, making it the winningest post position. One horse - Seahenge - considered a possibility for Saturday's race didn't enter, but the rest of the lineup was as expected. Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, the colt finished seventh in the Kentucky Derby and skipped the Preakness.
Free Drop Billy trained early Wednesday morning at Churchill Downs before boarding the same flight bringing Justify to NY.
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Bravazo and Vino Rosso were pegged at 8-1 each in the morning line. But the most recent Belmont victor who started on the rail was Empire Maker in 2003. He overcame the "Curse of Apollo" to win the Kentucky Derby in dominant fashion and take home the roses. In 2013, Lukas brought Oxbow (Awesome Again) to Belmont to follow up a win in the Preakness with a runner-up finish. The last was with victor American Pharoah, making Wheels Up undefeated in Triple Crown sponsorship and putting everything on the line with Justify.
In the past 20 races, every post from 1 through 13 has produced at least one victor, except for Gate 10.
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