Let’s call this years edition of the 1 ½-mile Belmont Stakes “ The Big Mystery At Big Sandy.” The final leg of the Triple Crown will be the first (and probably last) time these horses will be asked to race at a 12-furlong distance. It’s difficult to foresee how any of the horses in this 151st edition of the Test of the Champion will handle the distance, but there’s little doubt that it’s an interesting betting proposition with a 10-horse field that includes two standouts and several others who seem evenly matched in vying for the possible upset.
Here then is a brief look at the entire field, including their Post-Position and Morning Line odds.
1. JOEVIA (30-1): The rail goes to this guy, who has the kind of speed that should put him on or battling for the lead in the run to the first turn. How long he stays there is the question and, judging by the way he backed up to seventh in the Wood Memorial, DRB believes he drops anchor by the time the final turn approaches. If there’s a toss-out in the field, it’s JOEVIA.
JOCKEY: Jose Lezcano TRAINER: Greg Sacco
2. EVERFAST (12-1): He ran second in the Preakness at 29-1, but realistically his odds should have been 99-1, especially after he ran fifth in the Grade 3 Pat Day Mile at 66-1 in his previous start. Trainer Dale Romans believes the 3-year-old has turned a corner and he does turn in a good effort every now and then. The Preakness was his occasional good effort. The Belmont will not see him move forward from his lone Win in a Maiden Race.
JOCKEY: LUIS SAEZ TRAINER: Dale Romans
3. MASTER FENCER (8-1): The Japanese entrant showed the most late speed in the Kentucky Derby, making up six lengths in the final furlong while being placed 6th after the DQ. Horses from Japan have done well in past Belmont Stakes, finishing 3rd on two occasions, and this guy has the look of another long-winded import who stands a solid chance of hitting the board.
JOCKEY: Julien Leparoux TRAINER: Koichi Tsunoda
4. TAX (20-1): He’s a longs-shot possibility after winding up 14th on a wet track in the KD which he didn’t seem to adapt. Before that he was a good second to the TACITUS in the Wood Memorial, finishing just 1 ¼ lengths behind the current Morning-Line favorite in the Belmont. He’s bred to appreciate the distance and could very well outrun his odds.
JOCKEY: Irad Ortiz Jr. TRAINER: Dan Gargan
5. BOURBON WAR (12-1): Disappointed many backers in the Preakness, finishing eighth, the worst placing in a six-race career. He probably needed the race since it was his first start in seven weeks and he might take a step forward here. Will be interesting to see how the betting public treats him at Belmont. He was 12-1 on the Morning Line for the Preakness but went off at 5-1. If he’s close to that 12-1 price Saturday, he might be worth a look.
JOCKEY: Mike Smith TRAINER: Mark Hennig
6. SPINOFF (15-1): Trainer Todd Pletcher has Won the Belmont more than the other Triple Crown races and of his three Victories in the Test of the Champion, two have come with horses who flopped in the Kentucky Derby, then received five weeks of rest, and prevailed in the Belmont. Enter SPINOFF, who was 18th in the Derby while not being impacted by the disqualification of MAXIMUM SECURITY. Before that he was 2nd in the Louisiana Derby and since the KD he’s been working sharply.
JOCKEY: Javier Castellano TRAINER: Todd Pletcher
7. SIR WINSTON (12-1): The ‘other’ horse starting for trainer Mark Casse in this race, he was a good enough for 2nd in the Peter Pan Stakes,- a perennial steppingstone prep-race for the Belmont. He is rightfully overshadowed by stablemate WAR OF WILL and will have to take a big step forward to prove he belongs in Grade 1 Stakes company.
JOCKEY: Joel Rosario TRAINER: Mark Casse
8. INTREPID HEART (10-1): Hard to say which is Todd Pletcher’s ‘other’ horse. Buy into the Morning Line, it’s SPINOFF, but this guy has a weaker resume. He’s had only one Stakes Race- finished 3rd in the Peter Pan. He adds blinkers for Saturday, which may help his cause. His breeding is a plus. His sire, TAPIT, is the proud papa of three of the last five Belmont Stakes Winners. If you believe in pedigrees, the morning line price makes sense, otherwise caveat emptor.
JOCKEY: John Velazquez TRAINER: Todd Pletcher
9. WAR OF WILL (2-1): Two weeks after being bumped, and derailed by MAXIMUM SECURITY in the KD he Won the Preakness in a fashion that raised questions about what might have been in the Derby if not for “the incident.” He’s the only horse on course to run in all three legs of the Triple Crown and that might catch up with him here. On the up-side, Casse says he’s put on 40-50 pounds since the Preakness, so maybe he’s that special brand of horse who has equally high amounts of talent and durability.
JOCKEY: Tyler Gaffalione TRAINER: Mark Casse
10. TACITUS (9-5): Had an eventful trip in the Kentucky Derby when he finished fourth and moved up to third behind his Victorious stablemate COUNTRY HOUSE. He brushed with horses on a few occasions and did well to finish 3 ¼ lengths behind. Given five weeks off, he’s been working sharply for trainer Bill Mott and seems poised for a top effort, such as his Victories in the Wood Memorial and Tampa Bay Derby. He is also a son of TAPIT, so getting the distance shouldn’t be an issue.
JOCKEY: Jose Ortiz TRAINER: Bill Mott
Be sure to visit the Daily Racing Blog on Friday as we will shall put our money on the line and give out our bold predictions for the 2019 edition of the Belmont Stakes.