Jockey Club Derby Predictions, Expert Picks, Odds

If you're playing only to win, go with my top pick Yibir (3/1)

Jockey Club Derby Predictions, Post Position and Odds

Check out our predictions and odds for the Jockey Club Derby at Belmont Park!

PP Horse Odds Jockey Trainer
1 TANGO TANGO TANGO 15/1
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F Prat J Sisterson
2 YIBIR 3/1
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J Spencer C Appleby
3 TOKYO GOLD 5/1
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J Velazquez S Kobayashi
4 SOLDIER RISING 5/1
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I Ortiz Jr C Clement
5 STEP DANCER 15/1
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D Davis B Tagg
6 EXPERIENCED 12/1
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J Ortiz J Thomas
7 SLICKED BACK 6/1
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J Ferrer B Cox
8 BOLSHOI BALLET 2/1
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R Moore A O’Brien

Led by the Bolshoi Ballet, who won the Grade 1 Belmont Derby back in July, a group of four European invaders appears to have the home team up against it in Saturday’s $1 million Jockey Club Derby at Belmont Park.

Trained by Aiden O’Brien, Bolshoi Ballet was upset last time in the Saratoga Derby, but returning to the turf course where the son of Galileo won impressively, he will take some beating in the 1 1/2-mile turf test for 3-year-olds.

Yibir will be making his first start in America and figures to present a big challenge to the favorite on Saturday. A Godolphin homebred, the son of Dubawi is a four-time winner on the turf and exits his best race yet when he proved best in the Group 2 Great Voltigeur at York.

Two other Europeans should also be given plenty of consideration on Saturday. Soldier Rising made his American debut at Saratoga and finished well to be two spots ahead of Bolshoi Ballet in the Grade 1 Saratoga Derby. Tokyo Gold skipped that one, but was also a strong late run when second in the Grade 1 Belmont Derby in his first start in the country.

As part of the Challenge Series, the Jockey Club Derby will offer an all-expenses-paid berth into the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Del Mar on November 6.

Best Bets for the Jockey Club Derby

Here are my plays ($50 in total)

$10 Exacta part wheel – Yibir over Bolshoi Ballet and Tokyo Gold = $20

$5 Exacta Box – Yibir, Bolshoi Ballet and Tokyo Gold = $30

Top Pick:

Yibir (3/1)

Bet on Yibir, Here!

Race Analysis

Bolshoi Ballet

From the powerhouse barn of Aiden O’Brien, this son of Galileo will be making his third straight start in the United States. After failing as the favorite in the Group 1 Epsom Derby, he bounced back nicely to win the Grade 1 Belmont Derby at 10 furlongs in his American debut. Unfortunately, he could not repeat the success at Saratoga, where he finished fourth as the favorite in the Grade 1 Saratoga Derby. Back at Belmont, and stretched out to 12 furlongs, he should once again be a major threat. The course condition may be a factor as he has not performed his best on very firm or very wet conditions.

Yibir

A winner of two of his last three starts on the other side of the pond, this experienced son of Dubawi comes to America in career-best form. Owned and bred by Godolphin, and trained by Charlie Appleby, his connections are having another big year, and have already accounted for major turf stakes in the US this season. Of the powerful European quartet, he is the one who has the most speed, which should give him the tactical advantage. Well-proven at the distance, he likely only needs to run back to his last, a win in the Group 2 Great Voltigeur at York, to make his American debut a winning one. He is the top pick.

Soldier Rising

Now trained by Christophe Clement, this English import ran a very good race in his American debut for his new barn, when he rallied strongly off a solid pace to finish second in the Grade 1 Saratoga Derby. Now he returns to a familiar distance of 12 furlongs for the Jockey Club Derby as he makes his first start at Belmont. Never worse than second in five career starts, he did not face the level of competition the top two did while in Europe. He is certainly a threat once again, but of the four Europeans, I only like him fourth-best.

Tokyo Gold

A rallying second to Bolshoi Ballet in the Belmont Derby just over two months ago in his US debut, we have not seen this gray colt since. It was an excellent performance over the Belmont turf especially considering he was making his first start in America at a distance that might be shorter than his best. Two starts back, the French-bred won the 11 furlongs, Group 2 Italian Derby powerfully. Proven at Belmont, he should like the 12 furlong trip of this race even better. The top two are certainly legitimate, but this one looks like a must-use in the exotics on Saturday.

Slicked Back

Trained by Brad Cox, this son of Quality Road seems to have found a home for himself on the grass. A nice winner at Indiana Grand in his first try on turf, he came back to outrun his odds with a good second in last month’s Virginia Derby, in a race where he encountered traffic. Clearly, things will get tougher at Belmont, but of those two performances, he must be respected. In the hands of one of America’s top trainers, he appears to be headed to a nice career, but I think this might be just a little bit too much too soon for the young gelding.

Experienced

Don’t be fooled by the name, this son of Temple City is decidedly not experienced, having run only three times. Having said that, the last two came in stakes, and he has already run well at the 12-furlong distance. Of course, the Jockey Club Derby is a big step up in class for the Jonathan Thomas trainee. His only win came in a maiden race at Delaware, and neither of those stakes races can compete with what he will see on Saturday. He is another one who may have a nice future, but I prefer others in here.

Step Dancer

Trained by Barclay Tagg, this New York-bred has been pretty consistent in eight lifetime starts on the turf. A two-time stakes winner, he comes off a victory in a state-bred stakes race at Saratoga, where he rallied strongly late. This will assuredly be his toughest task to date in both class and distance, but he has the pedigree to stretch out and his trainer knows how to get them ready for this type of race. If you are looking for a long shot to use in the exotics, this late runner could be one to give a second look.

Tango Tango Tango

This long shot from Calumet Farm has turned in three solid performances since switching to the grass. A son of Tourist, he was able to pull off a mild upset to win the American Derby in the second of the three, before fading to second in the Bruce D. last time. Now he ships to Belmont to face much tougher while stretching out to 12 furlongs in this $1 million test. He will likely be a part of the early pace, but I can’t say I like his chances when the real running begins at the top of the lane.

How to Watch the Jockey Club Derby

Jockey Club Derby Race Information
Race Jockey Club Derby
Location Belmont Park
Time Saturday, September 18 — 5:45 pm Eastern time
How to Watch Fox Sports 1
Purse $1,000,000

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Brian Zipse

Expert on Horse Racing

Taken to the races at a very young age, Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Professionally, his work has been published on several leading industry sites. Brian served as the Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, where he still writes a regular column and hosts the popular weekly webcast HorseCenter.

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