Belmont Stakes odds, horse-by-horse analysis

We the People is bathed after training before the 154th running of the Belmont Stakes horse rac ...

Michael “The Wizard’’ Kipness has been a professional horse racing handicapper since 1986. The Las Vegas resident analyzes the eight-horse field for Saturday’s 154th Belmont Stakes, designating each horse as a contender or a pretender.

Visit Wizardraceandsports.com for his full card selections and wagering strategies for Saturday’s 13-race Belmont Stakes card. Kipness picked Preakness winner Early Voting, which paid $13.40 to win, in the Review-Journal and the trifecta, which paid $133 for a $2 bet, was comprised of his contenders.

Post position, horse, jockey, morning-line odds:

1. We the People, Prat, 2-1

The morning-line favorite has won three of his four starts, with his lone defeat in the Arkansas Derby. Washed out badly that day. Broke slow and raced out of position and wide throughout. Rebounded with an authoritative 10-length, front-running victory 42 days later over a wet surface in his first start at Belmont. In all three of his wins, he’s had a clear lead turning for home. With very little early speed in the Belmont, expect Prat to waste no time going to the front. His long fluid stride and pedigree makes him a danger to steal this race on the front end going 1½ miles, especially if Prat can ration out his speed. Contender.

2. Skippylongstocking, Franco, 20-1

I expected this steadily improving 3-year-old to show more punch in the stretch in the Preakness, but he came up empty. Rider change to Franco, who will likely be more aggressive early. He’s proven to be a cut below the best of his generation. Pretender.

3. Nest, Jose Ortiz, 8-1

Trainer Todd Pletcher won the 2007 Belmont Stakes with the filly Rags to Riches. He’s back again this year with Nest, who will be facing boys for the first time in her career. Nest has hit the board in all six starts, winning four races, including a dominant victory in the Grade 1 Ashland at Keeneland. Last time out in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks, Nest was second as the 2-1 favorite to Secret Oath. Of all the horses entered in the Belmont, you can make a strong case that she has the best pedigree to relish the 1½ miles. Nest has run twice at Belmont, with a win and a third-place finish to start off her career. Nest is likely to be one of the horses to get first run on the pacesetter We the People. She’s no Rags to Riches, but this is not a stellar Belmont field. I have the utmost respect for Pletcher winning marquee races at his home track. As a filly facing males, Nest gets five pounds of weight from all, which is a plus going this distance. Contender.

4. Rich Strike, Leon, 7-2

He posted a monumental upset in the Kentucky Derby as an 80-1 long shot. Rich Strike’s only prior victory came in a $30,000 maiden claimer in his second start, which also came at Churchill Downs. In five subsequent starts, he was defeated each time. Returning to Churchill for the Derby, he quickly found himself towards the rear of the 20-horse field. Sonny Leon bided his time before making his move. Leon was masterful in guiding him through traffic during the late stages of the race. In the Belmont, Rich Strike is the morning-line 7-2 third choice, which shows the lack of depth and quality in the race. His connection decided to pass up the temptation of running in the Preakness in favor of the Belmont to give Rich Strike more time to recover. He’s trained beautifully and gives every indication that he will have no problem handling the 1½ miles. Deep closers like Rich Strike usually don’t win the Belmont. It takes a skilled and perfectly-timed ride to get the job done. Leon did that in the Derby. Can the horse and the rider do it again in the Belmont? Lightning could strike twice, but it won’t be an easy task. Contender.

5. Creative Minister, Hernandez, 6-1

Steadily improving colt makes his fifth career start in three months, including a third-place finish in the Preakness. But too many races in too little time and asking him to go 1½ miles are just too much to ask to consider him a win candidate. Pretender.

6. Mo Donegal, Irad Ortiz, 5-2

The second of two runners in the Belmont trained by Todd Pletcher. He’s won three of six starts, including a victory and a third at Belmont. Defeated Preakness winner Early Voting in the Grade 2 Wood Memorial two starts back. Last time out in the Kentucky Derby, Mo Donegal found himself in another zip code early on. He made up ground at every call to finish fifth. He’s a one-run closer who should find the 1½ miles to his liking. He certainly can win, but at a short price, everything must go his way to be victorious. Contender.

7. Golden Glider, Davis, 20-1

There’s nothing at all from his past performances suggesting he can hit the board in the Belmont. Pretender.

8. Barber Road, Rosario, 10-1

He’s run nine times and the only two races he was off the board was his debut at five furlongs and last time out in the Derby, where he placed sixth. He’s a one-run closer who will be getting blinkers off for the Belmont. I love the rider change to Rosario, who fits his running style perfectly. He’s as honest a racehorse as they come. At double-digit odds in a less than stellar field, Barber Road is a live long shot. Contender.

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.