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Star Tribune handicapper reveals his Belmont Stakes pick

A competitive field of 10 3-year-old colts, including the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winners, will converge on upstate New York on Saturday for the 156th running of the Belmont Stakes, the final jewel of the Triple Crown.

How to watch: TV coverage starts at 9:30 a.m. on FS1 and moves to Fox at 3 p.m.. The race is scheduled to start at 5:41 p.m.

Canterbury Park Derby Party information

Belmont Stakes story lines

SARATOGA RACE COURSE will host the Belmont Stakes for the first time in history while Belmont Park undergoes a $500 million dollar renovation. Because of Saratoga's track configuration, the race will be run at 1¼ miles instead of the customary 1½.

SEIZE THE GREY starts for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas. Lukas, 88, has won the Belmont Stakes four times with the most recent winner being Commendable in 2000. Seize the Grey is owned by MyRacehorse Group, a syndicate with over 2,570 microshare owners.

Winner

SIERRA LEONE (9) is the likely favorite and deservedly so with his three wins and two placings (lost by a nose in each) in five career starts with four of those in Grade 1 or 2 stakes races. Has a tendency to break slowly and trail the field early but has obviously overcome the slow starts to be there when it counts the most. Flavien Prat will be aboard for the first time, and maybe the jockey change will get Sierra Leone more involved early. With the five-week layoff since his near miss in the Kentucky Derby, he should be on the muscle Saturday and ready to deliver a peak effort.

Contenders

RESILIENCE (2) ran credibly in the Kentucky Derby while racing wide throughout. Made a premature six-wide move coming into the final turn before tiring late. He had to use a lot of energy early in the Derby to secure good position going into the first turn while exiting from the No. 18 post position. Moves inside on Saturday with a much smaller field to navigate through. Expecting Junior Alvarado to sit right behind the early pacesetters, conserve energy while saving ground and try to make a late move. MYSTIK DAN (3) has done little wrong during the Triple Crown series with a win in the Kentucky Derby and a second in the Preakness Stakes. His versatile running style gives Brian Hernandez many options depending on how he breaks and how the race develops. Although he's in good form, he did lack that extra gear in the Preakness and you may question if the Triple Crown grind is catching up to him.

Long shot

DORNOCH (6) had the unenviable task of breaking from the rail in the Kentucky Derby, then to make matters worse he broke slowly and was quickly shuffled back. Being behind 13 other horses is not his normal running style; he's usually on or near the lead. With an alert break and smooth trip, he may be there at the end at a juicy price.

$100 wagering strategy

$40 exacta: Sierra Leone (9) / Resilience (2)

$20 exacta: Sierra Leone (9) / Mystik Dan (3)

$20 exacta: Resilience (2) / Sierra Leone (9)

$10 exacta: Mystik Dan (3) / Sierra Leone (9)

$10 exacta: Sierra Leone (9) / Dornoch (6)