Kentucky Derby Contenders
Saffie Joseph 1000 wins
Ken McPeek 3000 wins
Sovereign Award finalists
The Belmont Stakes is the oldest of the Triple Crown races, and at 1 1/2 miles on the dirt, is a dinosaur with so few main track events carded at twelve furlongs these days. With the short five week span for three grueling races under scale weight of 126 pounds over three very different tracks and three different distances, it takes a very special horse sweep the series. So much so that only 13 horses have completed the task, the last being Justify in 2018.
Thanks to injuries, poor performance in preps, or just plain lack of ability at the distance, the Belmont often gets a short field of horses, even if the race is wide open with no Triple Crown on the line and no obvious standout. While traffic trouble, a major issue in the Kentucky Derby, shouldn't be as much of an issue here, once again 3-year-olds are being asked to do something they've never done and conditioning will be key. In addition Belmont Park's "Big Sandy" 1 1/2 mile oval will be unfamiliar to most horses so we favor those which have had a race over it. Although the Belmont oval is much larger than those at Churchill and Pimlico, given the placement of the winning post it has the shortest home stretch of the Triple Crown at just 1,097 feet. Major factors which separate the likely winners of the Belmont are weighed out in this analysis, as we did for the Derby and Preakness fields.
Like the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, we have compiled some of the more profitable angles used to select a Belmont Stakes winner in recent years, and applied them to the possible entrants. Some novice horseplayers mistakenly believe a long race immediately favors closers when in fact the Belmont favors stalkers, so we prefer horses rated "E/P" or "P" in BRIS past performances (by comparison "E" types are confirmed front-runners while "S" are deep closers). As well, the 4.00 Dosage Index angle is stronger in the Belmont than in the Derby where it's mostly used; here, we set the upper limit on Dosage at 3.00 and Center of Distribution at 0.75 to account for the longer distance. However as we noted at the Derby, the list of "Chefs" is no longer being updated annually so this approach to handicapping Triple Crown races will gradually lose relevance as the final group of sires drop back in the pedigree charts.
The Belmont favors horses who have zero points in the Solid and Professional wings of their dosage profiles, which is counterintuitive as you'd expect to see indicators of stamina for the demanding 12 furlong trip. As we have for the Preakness, horses that are tied in points will be listed in morning line odds order. It is worth noting that no horse scored the maximum possible point total; each has his share of knocks, as is explained below. You can view the past performances of these horses free here from BRISnet (look for Forte).
Where there is a tie in points we will list the horses in morning line odds order.
Arcangelo tops this year's Belmont entrants, surprisingly as a "new shooter" to the Triple Crown. He is a confirmed presser (BRIS rates him "P 4"), a runstyle he used in his last two starts, both wins, including the Peter Pan Stakes (G3), a sharp prep at Belmont Park right at 4 weeks out, where he ran a new career best 101 BRIS speed figure. He raced once as a juvenile (which qualifies) but just 3 times this year (1 race short). On dosage, he does have the recommended "double zero" but his index of 8.60 and center of distribution of 0.92 are well above pars, so this puts into question his 1 1/2 mile staying ability. Regular rider Javier Castellano rides the 8-1 shot from post 3 for trainer Jena Antonucci.
The next 2 are tied in points and are listed in morning line order.
Forte was the Derby morning line favorite but was scratched, so comes here unraced since winning the Florida Derby (G1) on April 1. He is definitely a presser (BRIS "P 3" rating), has run 100 figures, qualifies on dosage index and CD (but is not a double zero), and has won stakes races. But the favorite has several knocks: he ran too many races at 2 and not enough at 3, is coming off a whopping 10 week layoff (longest in the field), and his last start was not a new career best BRIS figure, regressing from 103 in the Fountain of Youth to 100 in the Florida Derby. Regular rider Irad Ortiz Jr. retains the ride for Todd Pletcher aboard the 5-2 favorite from post 6.
National Treasure won the Preakness for trainer Bob Baffert. He qualifies on dosage index and CD (but is not a double zero), is coming off a sharp prep 3 weeks out rating a 100 figure (but it wasn't a new best), and ran 3 times as a juvenile. However he is a front-runner (E 5), has never been to Belmont, and is one start short of par as a 3-year-old. John Velazquez will again be in the irons from post 4 aboard the 5-1 shot.
The next 5 are tied in points and are listed in morning line order.
Tapit Trice was seventh in the Kentucky Derby and has rested since, meaning he is coming off a 5 week layoff (our limit is 4) and not a sharp race. He also regressed from a career best 102 winning the Blue Grass (G1) to a 93 in the Derby. On dosage his index is 3.92 (we want 3 or less), he is not a double-zero, but his center of distribution is right at the par of 0.75. He is rated a P 2 presser, and has enough starts at 2 and 3 including the aforementioned stakes win. Regular rider Luis Saez drew post 2 for the Todd Pletcher-trained 3-1 second choice.
Angel Of Empire finished a close third as the favorite in the Kentucky Derby but skipped the Preakness. His dosage index and center of distribution are the highest in the field at 9.00 and 1.20, which brings stamina to question, but he has a double-zero profile. He is a confirmed closer ("S 0") and is coming off a 5 week layoff (but considered a sharp prep). He has never been to Belmont and his Derby run was not a career best; in fact it was a "double top" of his career best 101 winning the Arkansas Derby, which could set up for a "bounce". Flavien Prat will be in the irons again for trainer Brad Cox from post 8 aboard the 7-2 third choice.
Red Route One was fourth in the Preakness last out for trainer Steve Asmussen. He is one of just 2 horses (the other is Il Miracolo) that satisfy all three Dosage requirements (index, CD, and double zero). The Preakness was not a sharp prep nor was it a new career best (his best was a 98 at Oaklawn, winning the Bath House Row Stakes, so he has no 100+ figures). He has enough starts at 3 but too many at 2, and has never run at Belmont. Regular jockey Joel Rosario retains the mount aboard the 15-1 shot from the outside post 9.
Tapit Shoes drew the rail for trainer Brad Cox as a 20-1 outsider. He lacks any stakes wins, after finishing second to Red Route One at Oaklawn last out, a sharp prep but 7 weeks out, but a race where he earned a new career best 98, not up to par. His dosage index and CD qualify but he is not a double zero, and he only ran three times this year (we look for 4-6 starts). He does have the recommended runstyle, rated "E/P 6" by BRIS. New jockey Jose Ortiz picks up the ride.
Il Miracolo is another new shooter to the Triple Crown, off a Gulfstream allowance after finishing 6th in both the Fountain of Youth (G2) and Florida Derby (G1). He is the second horse (after Red Route One) to satisfy the Dosage requirements. That last race was on May 11, so his layoff is 2 days longer than our 4 week limit. He has never won a stakes, never run a triple digit figure, and he ran a career best 89 in that last race. He has enough starts at 3 but too many as a juvenile, and is making his first start at Belmont Park on Saturday. BRIS rates his runstyle as "E/P 3" which is ideal. Marcos Meneses, who rode him in that allowance race, retains the mount for trainer Antonio Sano from post 5 as the 30-1 longest shot.
Hit Show ranked last in this year's group, off his 5th place finish in the Kentucky Derby. He is a confirmed presser ("P 3") and qualifies on dosage index and CD (but not a double zero). He has a stakes win this year (the G3 Withers) and ran 3 times as a juvenile, right at the max limit. However he is not coming off a sharp prep (5 weeks out) which was also not a best figure, his best figure is a just-short 99 from the Wood Memorial, he has never been to Belmont Park, and he has only raced three times this year. Regular rider Manny Franco gets the call again for trainer Brad Cox aboard the 10-1 shot out of post 7.
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