Essential Quality set as 2-1 favorite for Belmont Stakes, draws No. 2 post

NEW YORK — Essential Quality was set Tuesday as a 2-1 favorite for the Belmont Stakes, which will be run without a horse from trainer Bob Baffert pending an investigation into Medina Spirit’s failed drug test after winning the Kentucky Derby.

Preakness winner Rombauer and Essential Quality headline a field of eight horses for the third jewel of the Triple Crown. Baffert has no horses running at Belmont because the New York Racing Association suspended him after Medina Spirit’s positive drug test for a corticosteroid at the Derby.

Essential Quality, who drew the No. 2 post position, went off as the Derby favorite and finished fourth. Brad Cox’s other Derby horse, Mandaloun, would be named the winner of that race if Medina Spirit is disqualified, but Cox opted to run only Essential Quality in the Belmont.

Rombauer is the 3-1 second choice on the morning line. Jockey Flavien Prat left Rombauer, despite winning the Preakness aboard the colt, to honor a commitment to ride Hot Rod Charlie, who is the 7-2 third choice from the No. 4 position.

Hall of Famer John Velazquez will ride Rombauer, who drew the third post position just outside Essential Quality and No. 1 Bourbonic, who is back after skipping the Preakness.

Bourbonic is 15-1, No. 5 France Go de Ina is 30-1, No. 6 Known Agenda is 6-1, No. 7 Rock Your World is 9-2 and No. 8 Overtook 20-1.

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