This year’s Belmont Stakes (G1) will not get attention from the national media that the 2018 rendition did as Justify chased racing immortality, but it is still an intriguing final leg of the Triple Crown.
War of Will, off of his victory in the Preakness Stakes (G1), and Tacitus, who was last seen crossing the wire fourth in the Kentucky Derby (G1), will take the bulk of the action in the win pool and on top in horizontal and vertical wagers. If they run 1-2, the payouts will suffer, but if neither wins or both fail to hit the board, payouts could be lucrative.
#10 Tacitus entered the Derby on a three-race win streak for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott. The son of Tapit broke a tad slow and did not have an ideal voyage, but still showed some heart in the stretch and was moved up to third when Maximum Security was disqualified. The Juddmonte Farms homebred wants to be closer to the pace than he was on the first Saturday in May. I expect him to sit midpack in the Belmont. His stride and pedigree suggest getting the mile and a half should not be an issue. With a clean trip he will be very tough to beat.
#9 War of Will took the worst of it in the Derby, where he could have been a factor in the lane if not for the interference. The War Front colt rebounded two weeks later and won in Baltimore under a perfect ride from jockey Tyler Gaffalione. He now makes his third start in five weeks, including a race that had to be hard on him in Louisville, and will stretch out to 12 furlongs. I do not like his chances of winning two in a row, especially with the increased ground. I will play against the Gary Barber-owned 3-year-old.
#6 Spinoff ran a huge race two back in the Louisiana Derby (G2), where he arguably was best, but had a wider trip than eventual winner By My Standards. He was caught extremely wide and tired badly late in the Kentucky Derby, but he was up against in that spot with his outside post and lack of seasoning. I expect jockey Javier Castellano to have the son of Hard Spun in a prominent spot early. Look for a big effort from the first of two Todd Pletcher trainees entered in the Belmont.
#8 Intrepid Heart is the second of the Pletcher runners. The $750,000 OBS April purchase in 2018 won his initial two starts, but stumbled out of the gate in his first try against stakes company last month in the Peter Pan Stakes (G3) and finished a well-beaten third. He will need to move forward to beat this group, but he is a horse that should appreciate the added ground and it seems like this was Pletcher’s plan all along. The addition of blinkers will likely have him involved from the get-go.
#3 Master Fencer makes his second start in the US after a late-running seventh in the Kentucky Derby. The son of Just a Way is not a pretty mover and has not trained forwardly in New York, but can run all day. I give him little to no chance of winning, but I will include him for third and fourth where spreading.
#4 Tax did not run well over the sloppy going at Churchill Downs, but gets back to New York and should run a better race on Saturday. I question whether he is a true grade 1 animal, but the pedigree is there to get the mile and a half, and he attracts the services of Irad Ortiz Jr. He is worth including underneath.
#5 Bourbon War was my key horse in the Preakness and he did not fire. Trainer Mark Hennig takes the blinkers back off after the failed experiment in Maryland. He is a tough read, but not a horse I am willing to get beat by if he finishes third or fourth.
Here is how I recommend attacking the race with three different budget ranges:
$5 Exacta Wheel
10 with 6+8 = $10
$1 Trifecta Wheel
10 with 6+8 with 3+4+5+6+7+8= $10
$25 Exacta Wheel
10 with 6+8 = $50
10 with 6+8 with 3+4+5+6+7+8 = $20
$5 Trifecta Wheel
10 with 6+8 with 4+5+6+8 =$30
$62 Exacta Wheel
10 with 6+8 = $124
$10 Trifecta Wheel
10 with 6+8 with 4+5+6+8= $60
$4 Trifecta Wheel
10 with 6+8 with 4+5+6+8 = $24
$1 Superfecta Wheel
10 with 6+8 with 4+5+6+8 with ALL = $42
Good luck on Saturday!