Belmont Stakes: Who's coming in hot, and who's not?

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June 17th, 2020

Post positions for the Belmont Stakes (G1) were drawn on Wednesday, so the field for racing’s oldest American classic is set.

The historic race has been shortened from 1 1/2 miles to 1 1/8 miles for 2020, a side effect of COVID-19 related changes to the spring racing calendar. The Belmont will be contested around one turn rather than two, which could significantly alter the complexion of the race.

Which horses are entering the Belmont in peak form, poised to thrive under the unusual conditions, and which horses have reached the ceiling of their potential? Let’s review who’s hot and who’s not, heading into the restructured first leg of the Triple Crown.

Who’s Hot

#8 Tiz the Law (6-5)

The once-beaten favorite dominated the Champagne (G1) at Belmont last fall and is 2-for-2 this season. He has scored blowout victories against tough competition in the Holy Bull (G3) and Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park.

The New York-bred son of Constitution is training forwardly, has already proven he can thrive in a one-turn route, and has emerged as a heavy favorite to claim Belmont glory.

#2 Sole Volante (9-2)

This powerful stretch runner possesses a strong burst of acceleration, which he used to win the Sam F. Davis (G3) and finish second in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) during the winter.

The son of Karakontie recently returned from a layoff to defeat Florida Derby (G1) runner-up Shivaree and Fountain of Youth (G2) winner Ete Indien in a 1-mile allowance race at Gulfstream Park, which proves his late rally can be effective around one turn.

#1 Tap It to Win (6-1)

A son of Tapit, who has sired three winners of the  Belmont Stakes, Tap It to Win showed an affinity for Belmont Park when annihilated a 1 1/16-mile allowance race June 4, when he led all the way to beat a deep field by five lengths. The Live Oak Stud homebred missed the track record by just 0.54 seconds in an eye-catching performance that stamped Tap It to Win as the “now” horse heading into the Belmont.

Who’s Not

#7 Jungle Runner (50-1)

Though Jungle Runner won the 7-furlong Clever Trevor S. as a juvenile, he has struggled since he stepped up in class and distance on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, where he has finished off the board by wide margins in a quartet of stakes.

An eighth-place effort in the first division of the Arkansas Derby (G1) suggests Jungle Runner has a lot of form to find against Grade 1 company.

#5 Farmington Road (15-1)

This late runner appeared to be on the rise when he capitalized on a fast pace to rally and finish second in the 1 1/8-mile Oaklawn S., but when he stepped up in class for the second division of the Arkansas Derby, he struggled to gain ground on the leaders and finished fourth by seven lengths.

The waters will get even deeper in the Belmont, so Farmington Road will need improvement to factor.

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