Woodward Stakes Predictions, Picks, Odds (Belmont Park)

If you're playing only to win, go with my top pick Maxfield (8/5)

Woodward Stakes Predictions, Post Position, and Odds

Check out our predictions and odds for the Woodward Stakes at Belmont Park!

PP Horse Odds Jockey Trainer
1 DR POST 6/1
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I Ortiz Jr T Pletcher
2 MAXFIELD 8/5
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J Ortiz B Walsh
3 ART COLLECTOR 3/1
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L Saez W Mott
4 MO GOTCHA 30/1
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J Samuel N Chatterpaul
5 CODE OF HONOR 7/2
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P Lopez C McGaughey
6 FORZA DI ORO 9/2
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J Alvarado W Mott

 

Maxfield and Art Collector, two of the leading older males in the nation, headline a solid field of six sets for Saturday’s Grade 1 Woodward Stakes at Belmont Park.

A Godolphin homebred, Maxfield was a stylish winner of a pair of Grade 2 races at Churchill Downs earlier this season in the Stephen Foster and Alysheba but will be looking for his first Grade 1 victory of the year. Adding blinkers for the Woodward, the strapping son of Street Sense is coming in off a second-place finish behind Knicks Go in the Grade 1 Whitney, which was only his second career defeat in 9 starts.

Art Collector was a prime candidate for last summer’s Kentucky Derby but had to miss the race. The winner of the Grade 2 Blue Grass in 2020 is undefeated in four starts at the 9-furlong distance of the Woodward, including an easy win in the recent Grade 2 Charles Town Classic. The son of Bernardini is also 2-for-2 since joining the barn of Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott barn.

The Grade 1 winner Code of Honor, last year’s Belmont Stakes runner-up Dr. Post, and the highly regarded Forza Di Oro are chief among the competition for the two favorites on Saturday.

The $500,000 Woodward is a “Win and You’re In” automatic qualifier for the Breeders’ Cup Classic on November 6 at Del Mar.

Best Bets for the Woodward Stakes

Here are my plays ($40 in total)

$20 Exacta – Maxfield over Art Collector = $20

$20 Exacta – Maxfield over Code of Honor = $20

Top Pick:

Maxfield (8/5)

Race Analysis

Maxfield

After coming home second best to a top-notch speed horse who was loose on the lead last time, the connections of Maxfield have decided to add blinkers for this one. I’m not sure they were needed, but it could help the talented 4-year-old stay in touch with a couple of talented horses likely to be ahead of him early. Much like his two impressive wins earlier this year at Churchill Downs, I believe this race sets up well for his sweeping move on the turn, and the big turns at Belmont should help make this a track he loves. This is a good field, but this six-time stakes winner should prove a cut above the rest as he speeds toward the Breeders’ Cup Classic. He is the top pick.

Art Collector

A very good 3-year-old last year and undefeated in two starts after transferring barns to one of the best in the business, this son of Bernardini also seems well suited for the demands of the Woodward. We already know that he is tough at the distance, but the one-turn of Belmont should only help as he tries to hang tough late in this tough test. With good early speed, he seems the most likely one to be leading the field as they turn for home. I don’t love his chances to hold off Maxfield, but as well as he is going right now, it’s hard not to believe he has a big shot at the runner-up spot.

Code of Honor

The veteran Grade 1 winner broke a slump last time with a nice win at Monmouth Park. The aggressive race rider Paco Lopez will once again be in the saddle as this 5-year-old son of Noble Mission attempts to return to his best form, which saw him win races like the Grade 1 Travers Stakes two summers ago. It’s hard to know how his win in the Grade 3 Iselin Stakes will translate to this type of company, but with all his back class, he must be respected coming off the return victory. The 9-furlong distance also suits him well and tactically, he will likely try to run a race similar to Maxfield — stay within striking distance early and pounce. He’s a threat, but I expect the top pick to play that game better.

Forza Di Oro

Inexperienced at the Grade 1 game, this son of Speightstown got his first taste of the level last time and was bet down to clear favoritism in the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Saratoga. He could not quite live up to the expectations, though, and faded to third behind Max Player and Happy Saver. Things do not get any easier this time around, but the Grade 3 winner could well improve off the experience, as it was also only his second start of the season. One of two from the Mott barn, I do like his stablemate a bit better, but would not be surprised if he was right there at the eighth pole.

Dr Post

It’s become a little hard to know what you will get from this son of Quality Road. On his best, he looks good in finishing second on this same trip in last year’s Belmont Stakes or winning nicely in this year’s Westchester and Monmouth Cup. Both of those wins were in Grade 3 races, though, and his two tries this year at this level, in the Met Mile and Pacific Classic, left his supporters wanting. I can’t completely dismiss him, given this seems to be a track and distance that he appreciates, but I can’t honestly endorse his chances against all of the four listed above him.

Mo Gotcha

The rank outsider in the field, he made his stakes debut just two weeks ago while going 1 ⅝ mile in the Grand Prix American Jockey Club at Belmont Park. His performance wasn’t bad at all, finishing third at odds of 18/1, but now he is asked to come back on short rest, face better, and cut back a half-mile in distance. While it’s true he is in the best form of his career, I don’t see it being enough to threaten these.

How to Watch the Woodward Stakes

Woodward Stakes Race Information
Race Woodward Stakes (Grade 1)
Location Belmont Park
Time Saturday, October 2 — 5:45 pm Eastern time
How to Watch Fox Sports 1
Purse $500,000

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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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