Triple Crown Attempt A Big Win For NYRA

Triple Crown Attempt A Big Win For NYRA

Justify is scheduled to arrive at Belmont Park on Wednesday afternoon after traveling on a special transport plane from Louisville International Airport to Long Island's MacArthur Airport in the morning.

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. New York Racing Association oddsmaker David Aragona made the son of Scat Daddy the 4-5 favorite to give Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert his second Triple Crown in four years.

Because of the Belmont's smaller field and longer distance - 1 1/2 miles as opposed to 1 1/4 for the Derby and 1 3/16 for the Preakness - post positioning isn't necessarily an indicator of how a horse might fare.

"I never like drawing the rail in one of these races, but we have it and we can't change it", Baffert said. "He still has to get on the plane tomorrow in Kentucky and we still have a few days left, but since the Preakness everything has been going smoothly".

But no horse has a better track record at defying the odds than the favorite, Justify.

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The only concern is Justify's post position on the rail.

European veteran Gronkowski isn't as accustomed to dirt, however, and may need more than a little of that fortune if he's to beat Justify, whose strong preparations suggest he's on course for Triple Crown treasure. Both sat out the Preakness after finishing far back in the Derby.

Free Drop Billy trained early Wednesday morning at Churchill Downs before boarding the same flight bringing Justify to NY. In 2013, Lukas brought Oxbow (Awesome Again) to Belmont to follow up a win in the Preakness with a runner-up finish. But the most recent Belmont victor who started on the rail was Empire Maker in 2003.

The 150th Belmont Stakes will take place on Saturday, June 9 in Elmont, N.Y. The race is held at Belmont Park with a post time of 6:37 p.m. ET. The last was with victor American Pharoah, making Wheels Up undefeated in Triple Crown sponsorship and putting everything on the line with Justify.

Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for Alabama Media Group.

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