There may not be a Triple Crown on the line this year, but
that does not mean that there will be a shortage of 2013 Belmont Stakes drama. As each day
passes, it seems that a new story is added to the Test of the Champions.
The first and most notable is the rubber match that is
likely to occur between Kentucky Derby winner Orb, and Preakness Champion
Oxbow. Orb won the Kentucky Derby in his fifth consecutive win,
giving his trainer Shug McGaughey his very first victory in America’s most famed
race. In the Preakness, his luck took a turn for the worst, where he drew the
one post, allowing his competition to box him, negating his late kick. Oxbow,
on the other hand, had a positive change in luck, drawing well and the being gifted
an uncontested lead, enabling him to slow the pace, and outkick all others to
In recent years, trainers opted to skip the Belmont after their horses only took one jewel of the Triple Crown, while losing the other.
For example, 2007 Derby winner Street Sense was taken off the trail, after
finishing a close second to Curlin in the Preakness. The year before, Preakness
winner Bernardini skipped the race, leaving the Belmont without a Derby or
Preakness winner to lead the parade. This year, it looks likely that the
trainers of Orb and Oxbow will return in the Belmont, and relish the chance to
face off, once again.
Another element of drama added to the Belmont is the
addition of the filly Unlimited Budget. Before the Kentucky Oaks, where the
daughter of Street Sense finished a game third, she was unbeaten in four
previous starts. She is also owned by Mike Repole, who is eager win his first
Belmont Stakes, after a narrow miss two years ago with Stay Thirsty. Along with
her, the enthusiastic owner enters Arkansas Derby hero, Overanalyze. Should Repole win this year’s edition with Unlimited Budget, that would give trainer Todd
Pletcher his third victory in a Triple Crown race, and his second with a filly. The
last time that phenomenon occurred, Pletcher sent out Rags to Riches, the first
filly to win the Belmont in 102 years, at the time.
The Belmont also marks the return of several other Derby
runners, such as Palace Malice and Revolutionary. The former looks for redemption
after his Derby debacle, cause by the addition of blinkers. With the blinkers
off we can expect a much more relaxed Palace Malice, and hopefully the same one
who showed such promise along the Derby trail, before the addition of blinkers.
Revolutionary was a troubled third in the Kentucky Derby,
but still managed to closed like a freight train once he found the running
room. He enters the Derby fresh, and ready to avenge his loss in the Derby. If
he is still in good form and receives a clean trip, there is no reason to think
he won’t be the one wearing the carnations once all is said and done.
As can be seen there is plenty of drama in the year’s
Belmont Stakes to make up for the lack of a horse aiming for the Triple Crown.
For the first time in a long time we will see the Belmont live up to its name,
as the Test of the Champions. We will have a field full of drama, full of
talent, full of horses ready to avenge or redeem themselves after recent
losses. Despite lacking the drama of a potential Triple Crown winner, this
should easily be one of the most anticipating and exciting Belmonts we have
seen in a long, long time.