Belmont Stakes: Essential Quality Favored, But Does Small Field Help Or Hurt Your Bets?

Written By Drew Ellis on June 2, 2021 - Last Updated on December 7, 2023
Belmont Stakes Triple Crown June 2021

On Saturday, the Belmont Stakes will be held from Belmont Park as the final leg of the 2021 Triple Crown of horse racing takes place this weekend.

With a Triple Crown winner not possible, here’s what Michigan sports bettors need to know to cash in on this horse race.

How to watch the 2021 Belmont Stakes

  • What: 2021 Belmont Stakes
  • When: Saturday, June 5
  • Where: Belmont Park in Elmont, New York
  • Race Surface: Dirt
  • Race Distance: 1½ miles (12 furlongs)
  • Post Time: 6:47 p.m. ET
  • Broadcast: NBC, beginning at 5 p.m. ET
  • Online viewing:
  • Weather Forecast: Sunny, high 80 degrees, minimal chance of rain

Who is favored to win The Belmont Stakes?

The Belmont Stakes, unlike the previous two legs of the Triple Crown, often has a small field. Indeed, this year’s race is down to just eight contenders. That often limits your longshot odds in parimutuel wagering but can lead to some more dramatic shifts in odds on race day.

Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit will not run in this race after the New York Racing Association banned Bob Baffert from entering the grounds. Medina Spirit tested positive for 21 picograms of betamethasone after winning the Kentucky Derby last month.

Preakness Stakes winner Rombauer is in the race and among the favorites at 3-1 from the third post position.

Essential Quality comes into the weekend as the favorite at 2-1 from the second post position.

Here is a look at the field, with the post position and draw-day odds to win from TVG:

2Essential Quality2-1
4Hot Rod Charlie7-2
5France Go de Ina30-1
6Known Agenda6-1
7Rock Your World9-2

BetMGM partnering with NYRA Bets

If you are new to betting on horse racing, it’s a much different prospect than with other sports. Along with the varied betting options, you also don’t have as many avenues to make your wagers.

Last week, BetMGM Sportsbook announced that it was forming a partnership with NYRA Bets LLC, the official online wagering platform of the New York Racing Association and the leading provider of horse racing content in the United States.

NYRA Bets features a secure, state-of-the-art wagering platform that allows customers to watch and wager from home. NYRA Bets is available in 30 states and is continuing to expand its reach throughout the country.

BetMGM will utilize the NYRA Bets wagering platform in its horse racing app for Apple and Android devices, as well as desktop computers.

Derby favorite Essential Quality now the Belmont favorite

Essential Quality is no stranger to being a favorite. It entered the Kentucky Derby as the favorite and ended up placing fourth. The horse then did not compete in the Preakness Stakes.

The Kentucky Derby was the horse’s first loss after winning his first five races.

Trained by Brad Cox, he will be ridden by Luis Saez. Both trainer and jockey are looking for their first Belmont Stakes victory.

The No. 2 post position has produced 12 winners in Belmont history.

Rombauer looks for two legs of Triple Crown

Rombauer is the only horse eligible to win two legs of the Triple Crown this year.

The Preakness Stakes winner will be starting from the third position. The colt has won two of its three races this year. It did not compete in the Kentucky Derby, but won the El Camino Real Derby back in February.

Trained by Michael W. McCarthy, Rombauer will be ridden by John R. Velazquez. McCarthy is seeking his first Belmont victory, but Velasquez has jockeyed his way to two Belmont wins. The last was on Union Rags in 2012.

The third position has produced 15 Belmont winners. Only the first position (24) has produced more.

Other contenders to keep an eye on

Hot Rod Charlie is among the favorites at 7-2 odds. The colt has won two of its eight career races. It finished third in the Kentucky Derby and won the Louisiana Derby.

Rock Your World is up there as well at 9-2. The colt has won three of its four career races, all of which have been in 2021. However, its lone loss was a finish all the way back in 17th at the Kentucky Derby. It’s hockey, Joel Rosario, is a two-time winner and won with Sir Winston in 2019.

Keep an eye out for Bourbonic, who starts from the cherished first position mentioned earlier. Bourbonic has won three of seven races in its career. It finished 13th in the Kentucky Derby. Trainer Todd Pletcher had won this race three times, most recently with Tapwrit in 2017.

Photo by Seth Wenig/AP
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Drew Ellis

Drew Ellis is currently the Lead Writer of He was the former Lead Writer of PlayMichigan, the No. 1 source for online gambling news in Michigan. A lifelong resident of the state, Ellis has been working in various forms of media since 1998, including more than a decade in the sports betting industry prior to transitioning into US casino markets in 2020.

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