Elmont, N. Y.
The $1.5 million, Grade 1 Belmont Stakes drew a field of nine 3-year-olds who will compete on Saturday in the 1 1/2-mile test of the champion, the final leg of the 2023 Triple Crown.
The field has a distinguished group of trainers. Four of them won the Belmont in the past, three trainers are in the Hall of Fame, two have Preakness victories and three won the Kentucky Derby.
Six graded-stakes winners are in the field, with four of them having a Grade 1 victory to their credit. Three of the horses ran in the Kentucky Derby, finishing third, fifth and seventh, and then skipped the Preakness.
Four horses come into the Belmont with a victory in their most recent races, which include the Preakness, Florida Derby (G1), Peter Pan (G3) and an allowance at Gulfstream Park.
Here is a full-field analysis for the Belmont Stakes with the official track morning-line odds. The final leg of this year’s Triple Crown is scheduled for 7:02 p.m. EDT Saturday.
1. Tapit Shoes (20-1 – Tapit – Brad Cox / Jose Ortiz – 5: 1-1-1 - $82,878) Tapit Shoes is a typical son of Tapit who needed more time to mature. With only five starts in his career, he raced greenly in his first three races, including his maiden victory at Fair Grounds by more than seven lengths. In April he missed winning his first try in a stakes race by a head when he stretched out to 1 1/8 miles. Progeny of Tapit improve with more distance and won the Belmont four times without any Kentucky Derby victories. Tapit Shoes has increased speed figures in all five of his starts. Use underneath.
2. Tapit Trice (3-1 – Tapit – Todd Pletcher / Luis Saez– 6: 4-0-1 - $883,650) Tapit Trice is a grey like his sire Tapit and a Grade 1 winner of the Blue Grass at Keeneland in April. He was heavily bet in the Kentucky Derby as the 9-2 second choice. In the Derby he got far behind in last place and moved up to finish seventh. Tapit Trice has the pedigree to be a serious contender to win, and his trainer and his sire both are trying to get victories in the test of the champion for the fifth time. Top choice.
3. Arcangelo (8-1 – Arrogate – Jena Antonucci / Javier Castellano – 4: 2-1-0 - $167,400) Arcangelo won his last two starts, which were a maiden at Gulfstream Park in March and then the Peter Pan (G3) last month. He won both races with closing moves. Since 2010, veteran New York trainer Jena Antonucci won 160 races, with a pair of Grade 3 stakes to her credit. Kentucky Derby-winning rider Javier Castellano was aboard Arcangelo in both of his victories. His speed figures improved significantly in all of four his starts, and he can be a serious contender if he can take another step forward. Live long shot.
4. National Treasure (5-1 – Quality Road – Bob Baffert / John Velazquez – 6: 2-1-2 - $1,335,000) National Treasure was a debut winner last summer at Del Mar and then ran in four graded stakes where he finished second, third or fourth. He won the Preakness on the front end, which was true in his maiden win also. He is likely to set the pace again on Saturday. National Treasure has shown that he is a strong competitor down the stretch, but he will have to carry his speed 2 1/2 furlongs longer than ever before. Hall of Famer trainer Bob Baffert won the Belmont three times with Triple Crown winners Justify and American Pharoah along with Point Given in 2001. Win contender.
5. Il Miracolo (30-1 – Gun Runner – Antonio Sano / Marcos Meneses – 10: 2-3-0 - $103,125) Il Miracolo got the second win of his career with a front-end effort in an allowance as the even-money favorite at Gulfstream Park. Between his maiden win in Florida and the recent victory he made five starts in stakes races and never finished better than fifth. Both of his wins were front-running efforts, so will he be more forwardly placed in the Belmont? Toss.
6. Forte (5-2 – Violence – Todd Pletcher / Irad Ortiz Jr.– 7: 6-0-0 - $2,409,830) The 2-year-old champion Forte comes to the Belmont after having to miss the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness after a state veterinarian in Kentucky scratched him. That means the son of Violence has not run since April 1 in the Florida Derby (G1), when he defeated Mage who would of course win the run for the roses. Forte has the most victories and money earned in the field and a five-race streak where he crossed the finish line in front. Trainer Todd Pletcher will try to win the Belmont for the fifth time. The filly Rags to Riches was his first in 2007, and his wins include Mo Donegal last year. Forte raced from behind in all seven of his races. The one to beat.
7. Hit Show (10-1 – Candy Ride – Brad Cox / Manny Franco – 6: 3-1-0 - $494,375) Hit Show prepped for the Triple Crown races in New York where he won the Withers (G3) by more than five lengths and then was second by a nose in the Wood Memorial (G2) after a troubled trip. In the Kentucky Derby, Hit Show was sent off at 24-1 and stayed close to the pace in eighth, never more than five lengths behind. He got to third but flattened out a bit to finish a respectable fifth. Trifecta finish possible.
8. Angel of Empire (7-2 – Classic Empire – Brad Cox / Flavien Prat – 7: 4-1-1 - $1,369,375) Angel of Empire skipped the Preakness Stakes with eyes on the Belmont after a strong closing rally in the Kentucky Derby produced a third-place finish. The son of Classic Empire was sent off as the 4-1 favorite in the run for the roses and gained a dozen lengths after racing seven wide to finish a length and a half behind the winner. He is one of four Grade 1 winners in the field and won the Arkansas Derby (G1) by more than four lengths. Blinkers go on. Interestingly, trainer Brad Cox and jockey Flavien Prat earned Kentucky Derby victories by disqualification with Mandaloun in 2021 and Country House in 2019, respectively. Cox won the Belmont in 2021 with Essential Quality. Win contender.
9. Red Route One (15-1 – Gun Runner – Steve Asmussen / Joel Rosario – 10: 2-2-1 - $732,525) Red Route One broke his maiden on the turf at Kentucky Downs in October and then ran in six graded stakes with a pair of second-place finishes. In April at Oaklawn, he won a listed stakes race over Tapit Shoes by a head. He finished fourth in the Preakness after trouble midway through the race. His deep-closing running style typically is not ideal in the Belmont. Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen won the test of the champion in 2016 with Creator. Toss.
Summary: National Treasure won the Preakness when he went to the lead and was able to carve out steady fractions without facing much pressure until the stretch run. It is likely that jockey John Velazquez will try to do the same thing going the additional distance in the Belmont.
It is worth noting that since 2000, only three horses won the Belmont with a front-running effort. Two of them were the Triple Crown winners Justify and American Pharoah, and the other was Da’ Tara in 2008. Also this century, only Point Given in 2001 and Afleet Alex in 2005 were able to win the Preakness-Belmont Stakes double.
Tapit Shoes and Il Miracolo could provide pace pressure for National Treasure, but history says that it will be difficult for him to win going gate-to-wire again.
Todd Pletcher and the sire Tapit will be trying to win the Belmont for the fifth time. Forte has been away from the races for more than two months, having won the Florida Derby in his most recent start. Tapit Trice returns from a seventh in the Kentucky Derby. He has the look of a typical late-developing son of Tapit and should benefit from the five weeks between races.
All reports say that Tapit Trice looks great in the morning with an impressive physical appearance and a long, smooth stride. Tapit Trice will be the top choice in the Belmont Stakes.