These 3 horses can redeem themselves with a Belmont win

These 3 horses can redeem themselves with a Belmont win
Photo: Ben Breland / Eclipse Sportswire

Not only does the Belmont Stakes on June 10 provide the opportunity to capture a leg of the Triple Crown, but it also gives the chance for a few horses to redeem themselves after disappointing in the Kentucky Derby.

Three Kentucky Derby also-rans in particular can change the narrative surrounding them with a Belmont win and restore needed credibility to their name after their questionable Derby runs: Angel of Empire, Tapit Trice and Kingsbarns.

Here is why each horse fell below expectations in the Derby and what a Belmont win would mean.

Angel of Empire

One of the more forgotten horses exiting the Kentucky Derby is Angel of Empire, the post time favorite who closed for third and 1 1/2 lengths off the winner Mage. But he never felt like a real threat to catch Mage or Two Phil’s, as the two of them battled in their own world for most of the stretch run.  

Angel of Empire never had any significant trip problems either. He began the race 16th in the opening quarter and took advantage of the quick pace as a deep closer, as did the eventual winner Mage as well. 

In the stretch, Angel of Empire had every chance to catch up with the leaders. Mage and Two Phil’s simply ran better than Angel of Empire.

The effort came off as disappointing because Angel of Empire attracted plenty of attention heading into the race and a significant amount of wagering dollars as the mild 4-1 post time favorite. Many of the top handicappers selected him in the days leading up to the Derby, which probably affected his final odds, along with Mattress Mack's huge bet.

If Angel of Empire wins the Belmont, he would once again become a top player in the division, or maybe even the leader with his second Grade 1.

Tapit Trice

As discussed before in a previous post, Tapit Trice seemed flat overall in the Kentucky Derby. Granted, Tapit Trice found traffic problems heading into the first turn, which discouraged him early on and resulted in Tapit Trice trailing the field in 18th through the half-mile fraction with 15 1/4 lengths to make up.

Tapit Trice then tried to follow Mage on the far turn and took a path outside to set up his stretch rally, but he failed to quicken in the same way as Mage.

When finally outside and in the clear, Tapit Trice only made a gradual move forward while passing tired horses. He did not resemble the impressive closer who mowed the field down from near the back of the field in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2), or the one who made a daring early move in the Blue Grass Stakes (G1) and found himself challenging Verifying on the far turn. This version of Tapit Trice felt like a plodder with no late acceleration.

A large percentage of the public (including this writer) considered Tapit Trice the best dirt 3-year-old in the country heading into the Kentucky Derby. Right now, his standing looks below Forte and Mage. But Tapit Trice can catapult himself back up there and restore his No. 1 status with a strong Belmont.


Kingsbarns makes this list because he took some money and attracted a fair amount of hype heading into the Kentucky Derby as an 11-1 shot after his easy win in the Louisiana Derby (G2) following a comfortable lead and slow pace.

Although Kingsbarns brought talent and speed to Churchill Downs, no one knew the amount of speed this colt could bring because of those slow fractions at Fair Grounds. Regardless, most handicappers did place Kingsbarns around the front part of the field when analyzing the pace.

From watching his Derby run, it is clear Kingsbarns owns a significant amount of speed as he gave the pacesetter Verifying a hard time through grueling 22.35, 45.73 and 1:10.11 fractions for the 10-furlong race. After Verifying threw in the towel, Kingsbarns lasted longer and still held second through the mile fraction as Two Phil’s took the lead.

Kingsbarns could not last after those fractions. In the Belmont though, he is not likely to run the same kind of pace. The Belmont pace scenario might even resemble something closer to the slow pace in the Louisiana Derby since most jockeys become concerned with the distance.  

If Kingsbarns can bounce back and pull off the mild upset in the Belmont, he would earn the respect of those who doubted him after the slow-paced Louisiana Derby and those who jumped ship after his big Derby fade.

Meet Reinier Macatangay

My first time at the racetrack came as a 5-year-old kid at Santa Anita Park. For most of my younger life, that was the only track I attended other the occasional visit to Hollywood Park. 

Years later, after graduating California State University, Stanislaus with an English MA, I began writing for Lady and the Track. From late 2014-2016, my articles were seen on a weekly basis and covered handicapping, interviews with well-known racing personalities, fashion and more. 

The handicapping style I use concentrates on pace analysis. Some horses are compromised by the pace. Others are helped. Handicappers just starting out cannot easily see how pace affects the finish, so with this blog, I hope to help those unsure of how to apply pace into their handicapping and post-race analysis. 

On an unrelated note, I enjoy video games and attending anime or comic-book conventions. I am currently based in Kentucky, but spend a lot of time traveling between there and California.

Top Stories

Bob Baffert is never far from the center of racing...
This year’s edition of the Grade 1, $400,000 Holly...
The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Administratio...
Red Route One posted a half-mile breeze in 50.85 s...
Champion sprinter Elite Power will be pointed to t...