One of the 2021 Belmont Stakes contenders was dealt a big blow just two days before the race when his jockey suffered a serious injury. Irad Ortiz Jr., who was set to ride Known Agenda on Saturday, was unseated during a Thursday race and his injuries will keep him out a couple of weeks. He'll be replaced by brother Jose Ortiz, who had just over a day to get acquainted with his new horse. Known Agenda is one of three 2021 Belmont Stakes horses for trainer Todd Pletcher, but the only one considered to be among the favorites with 6-1 odds for Saturday.

Pletcher's other horses include Bourbonic (15-1) and Overtook (20-1), both of whom are long shots in the latest 2021 Belmont Stakes odds. Known Agenda is one of five Belmont Stakes 2021 contenders with single-digit odds, led by Essential Quality at 2-1. With so much to consider as the 6:49 p.m. ET post time approaches, you'll want to see what SportsLine's Jody Demling has to say before entering any 2021 Belmont Stakes picks or predictions of your own.

A fixture in the horse racing world who has been writing about, talking about and betting on races for years, Demling enters the 2021 Belmont Stakes after a major heater in 2020: At one point last year, he picked the winners of six straight races: the Saudi Cup, Gotham Stakes, Rebel Stakes, Louisiana Derby, Florida Derby and Belmont Stakes.

At last year's Belmont, Demling said Tiz the Law was clearly the class of the field, and Barclay Tagg's horse pulled away for a convincing 3 3/4-length victory.

And in 2018, he was all over Justify, jockey Mike Smith, and trainer Bob Baffert to make horse racing history at Belmont Park. The result: Justify became just the 13th Triple Crown winner ever, and anyone who followed Demling's lead cashed in too.

Demling is at his best in the biggest horse races in the world. He has hit nine of the last 13 Derby-Oaks doubles at Churchill Downs. That means he held a ticket with the winners of both races all but four times in the last 13 years. He's also called nine of the last 17 Preakness winners, keenly understanding when the Kentucky Derby winner was poised for victory or a massive upset. Anyone who has followed him has seen some huge wins. 

Now, with the 2021 Belmont Stakes horses set following Tuesday's post draw, Demling is sharing his picks and predictions at SportsLine. Go here to see them.

Top 2021 Belmont Stakes predictions

One surprise: Demling doesn't have Preakness winner Rombauer in his top two for the third leg of the Triple Crown. Rombauer had rest to his advantage at the Preakness as he was coming off a six-week break. His biggest rival, Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit, had just two weeks off. Now the tables have turned as Rombauer enters the 2021 Belmont Stakes after a three-week break, while the four other horses with single-digit odds will be coming off five weeks of rest. 

Demling has locked in his Belmont Stakes 2021 picks for the 2-1 favorite, Essential Quality. The horse was considered a possible Triple Crown winner earlier this year after he won each of his first five races. That made Essential Quality the favorite at the Kentucky Derby, but traveling wide on both turns resulted in a fourth-place finish for the previously undefeated colt. He then bypassed the Preakness, so he'll be fresh with five weeks of rest for the 2021 Belmont Stakes. A season that started with such high expectations can have some final saving grace if Essential Quality is able to put it all together and win the last Triple Crown race.

Demling has also made the call on Hot Rod Charlie, a horse listed third on the 2021 Belmont Stakes odds board at 7-2. Hot Rod Charlie surged into the Kentucky Derby with plenty of momentum after capturing the Louisiana Derby with a strong run past Midnight Bourbon and O Besos. And the colt's run at Churchill Downs was a strong one, as he finished a competitive third behind Medina Spirit and Mandaloun.

That Run for the Roses means that Hot Rod Charlie is the only 2021 Belmont Stakes horse to defeat favorite Essential Quality in Louisville. Notable, too, is that the son of Oxbow hasn't finished lower than fifth in any of his eight career starts. Rested and ready for the full lap around Belmont Park, Hot Rod Charlie is certainly a thoroughbred to consider among the 2021 Belmont Stakes contenders.

How to make 2021 Belmont Stakes picks, bets

Demling has made the call on exactly where Essential Quality and Hot Rod Charlie will finish in his projected 2021 Belmont Stakes leaderboard. He's also including one of the biggest long shots in the field in his 2021 Belmont Stakes bets. Before making any Belmont Stakes 2021 picks, be sure to see who it is exclusively over at SportsLine.

Which horse wins the Belmont Stakes 2021? And where do Essential Quality and Hot Rod Charlie finish? Check out the latest 2021 Belmont Stakes odds below, then visit SportsLine to see Demling's picks for the Belmont Stakes.

2021 Belmont Stakes odds

Essential Quality2-1
Hot Rod Charlie7-2
Rock Your World9-2
Known Agenda6-1
France Go de Ina30-1