By Emily Shields
It is time to handicap the 151stBelmont Stakes, a 1 ½ mile contest for sophomores and the final leg of the Triple Crown. The Test of the Champion will be run on Saturday, June 8 at Belmont Park, and drew a field of ten.
#1 Joevia (30-1) is coming off a win in the Long Branch at Monmouth last out, and gets jockey Jose Lezcano. Greg Sacco trains the son of Shanghai Bobby, who caused a commotion when wiping out several runners in the Wood Memorial (G2) back in April. He has only ever won on wet tracks.
#2 Everfast (12-1) was quite the surprise when he ran second in the Preakness (G1) for trainer Dale Romans at 29-1. He hasn’t won his his maiden victory, but had been running solidly in graded stakes competition including a second in the Holy Bull and fifth in the Pat Day Mile amidst an eighth in the Fountain of Youth and ninth in the Florida Derby. Everfast is by Take Charge Indy and gets original Kentucky Derby winning rider Luis Saez.
#3 Master Fencer (Jpn) (8-1) has been the source of much chatter this week as he stumbled in a workout. He was deemed entirely sound, but has not wowed in the morning. He was seventh in the Kentucky Derby after arriving from Japan, and placed sixth during the reshuffle. Julien Leparoux is back aboard.
#4 Tax (15-1) has new glue on shoes and is back in the state where he won the grade 3 Withers three back. The grade 1-placed gelding broke his maiden at Keeneland last year and sports one of those classic type pedigrees, being by Arch and out of a Giant’s Causeway mare.
#5 Bourbon War (12-1) is royally bred and was well liked going into the Preakness, but finishing eighth. He was fourth in the Florida Derby and second in the Fountain of Youth, where he first cause a lot of eyes. Mark Hennig trains, Mike Smith will be aboard.
#6 Spinoff for Todd Pletcher ran 18thin the Kentucky Derby; the son of Hard Spun gets Javier Castellano for the first time. He was an allowance winner over the winter and second in the Louisiana Derby, both on fast tracks.
#7 Sir Winston (12-1), by Awesome Again, is the first of two Mark Casse runners. He was second in the Peter Pan (G3) after running a bit disappointingly in the Blue Grass (G2), Tampa Bay Derby (G2), and Withers (g3). He did win the Display Stakes at Woodbine last December. Dam sire Afleet Alex won this race in 2005.
#8 Intrepid Heart (10-1) is one of three sons of Tapit in the field; Tapit has sired three Belmont winners to date. This is Pletcher’s other runner, who won his first two career starts and was third in the Peter Pan despite being a strong wagering favorite. He cost $750,000 and will have blinkers on today.
#9 War of Will (2-1) is your Preakness winner. Casse trains this guy, who was knocked out of contention in the Kentucky Derby. He was a two-time graded stakes winner this year before the Preakness after being fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) last year as a maiden. He is four for 10 lifetime.
#10 Tacitus (9-5) rounds out the field. The son of Tapit is trained by Bill Mott, and was riding a three-race winning streak going into the Kentucky Derby, including a pair of grade 2 preps. He finished fourth on the first Saturday in May but was placed third. He will be closing late under Jose Ortiz.
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