Table of Contents
By Alex Lauzon from the “Course of Life” podcast
Triple Crown Finale
First it was Mage in somewhat of a surprise finish at Churchill Downs, and then Bob Baffert came through with another win under his belt as National Treasure took the Preakness at Pimlico. With the Triple Crown feat out of the question we’ve arrived at the third and final leg, The Belmont Stakes. The track affectionately known as “Big Sandy” brings in a world class collection of thoroughbreds that we thought we might see earlier on the calendar.
When the pre-derby news broke on Forte’s withdrawal from the run for the roses, there was admittedly a giant balloon pop to deflate the excitement on horse racing’s biggest day. The race itself still held up its bargain for entertainment but without the odds on favorite to have a say, the victory didn’t hold as much weight. Fast forward five weeks to the conclusion of horse racing’s championship series, and we have a doozy of a field looking to take down the final leg.
The Field We Wanted
The draw at Big Sandy is nine horses deep and it’s the perfect mix of bombs, intrigue picks and favorites on the board. This horse race is known as the “test of a champion” as it’s significantly longer in length at a mile and a half. The length and the gritty nature of Belmont tend to weed out inexperienced, over-excited or nervous horses pretty quickly. What we do finally get to see is FORTE in action, the talk of the town in April that last second scratch from the Kentucky Derby. Let’s examine who Forte will have to fend off this Saturday in New York to get some piece of the Triple Crown.
The Belmont Field
#1 – Tapit Shoes
An interesting horse for the inside pole position, as this horse was on the brink of even running in The Preakness. A known closer that comes from that Tapit lineage you will see twice in this race – not an ultimate factor.
#2 – Tapit Trice
A very trendy pick at the derby, this horse should command a lot of action for a solid starting position. Luis Saez still riding, and Tapit horses have a winning history at Belmont, so this is a strong contender as one of the favorites.
#3 – Arcangelo
Javier Castellano won the Derby on Mage and now rides on this horse that is a big question mark. Not much of any big track experience but all the feel and racing analytics of a horse that could shock the world.
#4 – National Treasure
Bob Baffert’s Preakness winner from Pimlico is here to snag two out of three legs, and positioned comfortably but not too far outside. We saw his front running and winning ways at Pimlico, but is this horse cut out for 1.5 miles? I’m not so sure.
#5 – Il Miracolo
Translating literally to “miracle” in Italian, which is fitting for the moment. The horse has pedigree but no results to back a winning moment here. Could be a sneaky show play that likes to stick with the pack.
#6 – Forte
There he is – we hope there’s no freak injury Saturday morning that keeps Ripoli’s dream horse off of the track. Ironically this #6 post was rather cursed at Belmont until Mo Donegal got it done from there last year. Could it be two in a row?
#7 – Hit Show
The real HIT here would be a sleeper horse like this loving life on a grimy, sandy track like Belmont. Hit Show’s jockey and training staff seem to think it’s a possibility.
#8 – Angel of Empire
The third of Brad Cox’s horses alongside Hit Show and Tapit Shoes – he’s got a pretty good shot at finding the winner’s circle if the closing corner of this 1.5 mile trot is done with enough energy,
#9 – Red Route One
I liked this horse at Pimlico but he had a poor run that never got started appropriately. Now sitting at even lower odds, this horse needs a fast start to execute a deep close and be a highway horse!
Pickin’ Em’ Straight
#7 Hit Show
#7 Hit Show – #6 Forte
The Belmont Deets
Where to watch: Coverage on NBC Saturday afternoon, with the last leg of the Triple Crown scheduled to post at or around 6:30-7pm E.T.
Why to watch: The Triple Crown finale always caps off with a bang, and with a doozy of a 9 horse field it’s the grouping we’ve been pining for all year.
Purse: $1.5 million, $800k to the winner
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