NEW YORK — Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike is the third betting choice on the morning line for the Belmont Stakes, with Triple Crown newcomer We the People installed as the favorite.
Rich Strike opened at 7-2 odds and drew the fourth post position in a field of eight horses for the 1½-mile third leg of the Triple Crown. We the People drew the rail and opens at 2-1, with Todd Pletcher-trained No. 6 Mo Donegal set at 5-2.
A month after Rich Strike pulled off an 80-1 upset to win the Derby and bypassed the Preakness for extra rest, trainer Eric Reed thinks the colt is training just as well at Belmont Park as he was at Churchill Downs.
“He’s done real good since he’s been here,” Reed said Tuesday at the post position draw. “I see the energy level a little higher now, and he seems a little more confident.”
We the People is coming off winning the Grade 3 Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park on May 15. With another wet track possible Saturday, France-born trainer Rodolphe Brisset said he “wouldn’t be upset” if rain is in the forecast.
As for We the People opening as the favorite, Brisset said: “Everybody knows we like the horse since this winter. I don’t look at the odds, but it makes sense.”
Pletcher has two horses in the field: Mo Donegal, who finished fifth in the Derby, and filly Nest, who ran second in the Kentucky Oaks the day before. He already has won the Belmont once before with a filly — Rags to Riches in 2004 — and is willing to take this chance with Nest, who drew the third post and opens at 8-1.
“Everything’s gone perfectly since the Oaks,” Pletcher said. “She’s a filly that’s really well-bred for this race. I think she’s got the right kind of disposition for it, and she’s given us every indication that she’s doing really well.”
Along with Rich Strike and Mo Donegal, Barber Road is the only other Derby horse set to race in the Belmont. Barber Road, who was sixth in the Derby, drew the outside eighth post at odds of 10-1.
There are no horses this year that are set to take part in all three legs of the Triple Crown, after Derby and Preakness runner-up Epicenter was given time off to prepare for races this summer. Creative Minister, who finished third behind Early Voting and Epicenter three weeks ago in the Preakness, is the only horse to run on all three Triple Crown days after winning against lesser competition on May 7 at Churchill.
“This horse, he’s got a real chance,” trainer Kenny McPeek said of No. 5 Creative Minister, who opened at 6-1. “He handled [the Preakness] really well, and he’s got to move a step forward again.”
Skippylongstocking, who finished fifth in the Preakness, drew the second post. He and No. 7 Golden Glider are the co-longest shots on the board at 20-1.
Bautista (AL), Williams (NL) named top relievers
NEW YORK — Baltimore‘s Félix Bautista was a unanimous winner of the Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year Award and Milwaukee‘s Devin Williams won the Trevor Hoffman National League honor on Wednesday.
Bautista, a 28-year-old right-hander, was 8-2 with a 1.48 ERA and 33 saves in 39 chances for the AL East champion Orioles. He made his final appearance on Aug. 25 and had Tommy John surgery on Oct. 9, which likely will cause him to miss the 2024 season.
Williams, a 29-year-old right-hander, was 8-3 with a 1.53 ERA and 36 saves in 40 opportunities for the NL Central champion Brewers. Williams also won the award in 2020 and joined former teammate Josh Hader, Edwin Díaz, Liam Hendriks, Kenley Jansen and Craig Kimbrel as the only multiple winners of the honor, known as the Delivery Man of the Year Award from 2005-13.
Rivera and Hoffman were among the six voters, joined by fellow Hall of Famers Dennis Eckersley and Rollie Fingers along with John Franco and Billy Wagner. Balloting was based on the regular season and used a system in which the first choice got five points, the second three and the third one.
Sources: Severino to crosstown Mets for $13M
Severino, 29, will join the Mets and a rotation in significant need of help after spending his eight-year career with the New York Yankees.
He struggled this season with a 6.65 ERA, but posted a 3.39 ERA in 638 innings over his previous seven seasons. If Severino thrives, he’ll hit free agency again next year, and he can earn up to $2 million in performance bonuses from the Mets.
Utah St. QB to skip final season for SEAL training
Williams revealed in a radio interview with a Salt Lake City radio station on Monday he intends to skip his final year of collegiate eligibility with the goal of becoming a SEAL officer in 2025.
“I just want to be in a spot where I can protect this great country where we get to play football with the freedom to do that,” Williams told KSL 97.5 FM. “I think this is the best country in the world, so I’d like to keep it that way and protect it as long as I can.”
The junior quarterback plans to take a SEAL qualifying fitness test after the season. It is a rigorous test that features a 500-yard swim, maximum push-ups, pull-ups, and curl-ups done in separate two-minute intervals, and a 1.5-mile run. The individual time for either the swim or the run cannot exceed 12 ½ minutes.
Williams said he embraces the challenge and is eager to follow in the footsteps of parents and grandparents who served in the military before him. Being a SEAL specifically appeals to him because of the chance to be in a team-oriented environment.
“What I love about their ethos and their motto is that no one guy is better than the other,” Williams said. “It takes all of them to complete a mission.”
Williams spent three seasons with Wyoming before entering the transfer portal following the 2021 season. He joined Utah State and has appeared in 16 games for the Aggies over two seasons.
The seldom-used Williams began the season as Utah State’s third-string quarterback but made his first start since 2021 in the Aggies’ regular season finale against New Mexico. He played mostly on special teams during the season, but injuries to Cooper Legas and McCae Hillstead forced Aggies coach Blake Anderson to turn to the former Wyoming transfer to run the offense.
Williams tallied 351 all-purpose yards to help Utah State edge the Lobos 44-41 in double overtime. He accounted for five touchdowns — culminating in a game-winning 13-yard run after retrieving a snap that went behind him — to help the Aggies become bowl eligible for a third consecutive season.
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