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'Derby' Bill Watson makes his Belmont picks
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'Derby' Bill Watson makes his Belmont picks

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AP News Digest 2 p.m.

Belmont Stakes entrant Hot Rod Charlie takes a training run on the main track ahead of the 153rd running of the Belmont Stakes horse race, Wednesday, June 2, 2021, at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

‘Derby’ Bill makes his Belmont picks

“Derby Bill” Watson was the official handicapper at Colonial Downs for six years and has been a professional handicapper for 24. Hear him, Nick Hahn, Frank Vespe, Mike Barone and Darrell Wood each Saturday from 10-11 a.m. on “Off to the Races” on WXGI or theracingbiz.com. Watson’s Belmont superfecta: No. 4 Hot Rod Charlie, No. 6 Known Agenda, No. 7 Rock Your World, No. 2 Essential Quality.

Horse Trainer Jockey Odds

1. Bourbonic Todd Pletcher Kendrick Carmouche 15-1

Pletcher’s Wood Memorial shocker [$146.50] 13th in Derby, will be hard pressed to finish top 5 in N.Y. return

2. Essential Quality Brad Cox Luis Saez 2-1

Derby favorite buried Preakness champ Rombauer in Blue Grass Stakes, earning favorite status here.

3. Rombauer Michael McCarthy John Velasquez 3-1

Perfect spot in Preakness win; faces tough task wheeling back vs. talented, well-rested top four here.

4. Hot Rod Charlie Doug O’Neill Flavien Prat 7-2

Preakness winning jockey Prat opted to jump ship and try to wire-to-wire this small but talented field.

5. France Go de Ina Hideyuki Mori Ricardo Santana Jr. 30-1

Needs a $1,000,000 bonus performance just not seen by me here.

6. Known Agenda Todd Pletcher Irad Ortiz Jr. 6-1

No. 1 Post in Derby was death sentence! 1½ miles gives 2007 Belmont runner-up Curlin’s kid rebound chance.

7. Rock Your World John Sadler Joel Rosario 9-2

Fourth colt with 100 Beyer figures will get better trip from two-time Belmont champ Rosario rolling up front.

8. Overtook Todd Pletcher Manny Franco 20-1

Third string for Pletcher taking major jump in class with career-best 83 Beyer, leaves me uninspired here.

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