Every year we see some last-minute contenders for the Belmont Stakes, usually the final leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown, owing to some trainers wanting to keep their horses fresh for this brutal mile-and-a-half test.
This year things are very different given that the Kentucky Derby is off until September 5, leaving the Belmont as the first leg in the coveted series run over a reduced distance of a mile and an eighth.
This time around, the last-minute changes have involved so many contenders dropping out as the race has cut up real bad. Bob Baffert’s trio of Nadal, Charlatan and Authentic all now miss the race for different reasons while the impressive Maxfield was aimed instead at the Blue Grass Stakes but has unfortunately suffered another injury, ruling him out of this and the Kentucky Derby for which he was among the favorites.
Casual bettors and professional handicappers alike will be looking out for some good value in this race, given that is has caught out many a Triple Crown seeker over the decades and so it’s always good to possess a solid knowledge of the race overall. We are always on hand to give you the Belmont Stakes facts you need.
So, think about the Belmont Park race conditions as well as the history of the Belmont in order to give yourself the best shot at picking the right horse on June 20.
As of now, here are the top entries for the 152nd Belmont Stakes in New York:DR POST
Creeping up the contenders (and odds) list owing mostly to some high-profile expected absentees from this event, Dr Post was a winner in the Unbridled Stakes at Gulfstream from yardstick Attachment Rate and could be even better on this track.
Todd Pletcher has now overtaken Bob Baffert as the trainer with a firmer grip on this event, three of his barn potentially participating this year.GOUVERNEUR MORRIS
Another solid yardstick for sure, but strangely enough his consistency is what keeps him at big odds for this race. A winner at Saratogo and at Tampa Bay beating the useful Entitled, he has run well in defeat behind Maxfield, Tiz The Law and Charlatan.
While those efforts are good, it shows that he has been beaten to the wire on numerous occasions by other Belmont contenders and so frankly, doesn’t appear good enough to beat them now.MISCHEVIOUS ALEX
After beating Shivaree (also a possible in this race) in February he was fit and ready for the Grade III Gotham in March, his victory there reading impressively now.
On a line through Attachment Rate (close form with second-favorite Dr Post) his form is now among the best is this line-up and given the way he stretched out to the line at Aqueduct it seems he will appreciate this test even more. He has to be considered to be a very strong player now.
His trainer thinks he will improve significantly from that race and the son of the brilliant Street Sense is another who can be considered to have been given an advantage with the reduced distance of this race. He definitely has the raw ability to one day be called the best of this year’s bunch, though whether he peaks now or at 4 remains to be seen.
Walsh has given this colt the option of the Grade II Blue Grass Stakes in July, but as of now he appears to have enough time to recover before the Belmont though no decision has been made on his participation.SOLE VOLANTE
His win in the Grade III Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs in February over Independence Hall, a previous contender for this race, would seem to entitle him to a spot on this list.
In truth he needs to improve plenty as on the balance of his form – he was beaten at Gulfstream before the Sam F. Davis and again since in the Tampa Bay Derby – and so having to guess at his true ability makes him less of a betting proposition although he did win an Allowance race in prep for this earlier in the month.TAP IT TO WIN
A son of Tapit whose progeny do so well at Belmont, Tap It To Win has already in fact proven himself around the track after winning an allowance race earlier in June he could improve sufficiently to hit the board here.
The three horses in behind last time out were all among the market leaders and all are rated highly enough to make the form look strong, so Mark Casse’s colt cannot be ruled out and in fact there should be a lot of wagering cash heading his way on June 20.TIZ THE LAW
There was so much to like about this horse in the context of this race as a mile-and-a-half test. He is a grandson of Tiznow, a great horse who was not asked to go further than 1¼ miles but who beat Sakhee in the second of his Breeders’ Cup Classic wins, a horse who easily stayed a mile-and-a-half.
His own sire Constitution didn’t stay too far, but he was a son of Tapit who is renowned for getting Belmont Stakes winners as well as others hitting the board, but now this race has been reduced in distance Tiz The Law’s chances may have too, albeit only just.
In terms of form, he beat TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile contender Green Light Go very easily in the Champagne Stakes around this very track last season (Grade One), before he swept aside Ete Indien in the Holy Bull this year and of course that horse has since gone on to land the Fountain of Youth Stakes and the Florida Derby in good style. The favorite.
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