It’s time for the 151st running of the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, June 8th. There will be no triple crown winner this year after Justify accomplished the feat in 2018. The disqualification of Maximum Security in the Kentucky Derby really made things a mess and didn’t allow for a Triple Crown winner.
War of Will has the best claim to the throne. He perhaps would have passed Maximum Security in the Kentucky Derby if not for the wide trip around the final turn that nearly derailed War of Will. He went on to get some revenge by winning the Preakness Stakes in impressive fashion. War of Will will be the only horse in this 10-horse field to have run in all three triple crown races.
There are several different factors you must use to come up with your predictions. The horse’s pedigree is a big one, but past performances are the most important factor of all. With most of these Triple Crown races you are able to see head-to-head results. Finding out how the contenders fared head-to-head can go a long way in predicting the outcome of their next race together.
Looking at how horses have run at certain distances also helps, and that goes right along with past performances. Pedigree tends to be a big deal for the Belmont because you need a horse that’s able to run a long distance as the Belmont is the longest of the Triple Crown races at 1 1/2 miles. Here are my picks for the 2019 Belmont Stakes.
Won the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) and Wood Memorial (G2) heading into the Kentucky Derby. Despite a brutal trip, Tacitus rallied in a big way to finish 3rd in the Kentucky Derby. He has a huge closing kick and likes to stalk the leaders, which is the perfect racing style for the Belmont.
Pedigree is a big reason why I’m picking Tacitus to win. He is sired by Tapit, which produced three of the past five Belmont winners in Tonalist (2014), Creator (2016) and Tapwrit (2017). It’s obvious that Tacitus will get the distance. Trainer Bill Mott also trained Country House, which won the Kentucky Derby.
Tax is being overlooked due to a terrible showing in the Kentucky Derby. But he had an excuse as he was stuck inside with mud flying in his face. You have no shot in the Kentucky Derby if you get stuck inside. You need a perfect trip like the one War of Will got to contend.
With a smaller field Tax, will get a better trip in the Belmont Stakes. And trainer Danny Gargan knowns Belmont well as he is one of the best trainers in New York. Tax is sired by Arch, so he’ll have the lung capacity to run the Belmont Stakes twice in a single day.
Since I like Tacitus to win, it’s important to note that Tax finished 2nd by a length to Tacitus in the Wood Memorial (G2). Both Tacitus and Tax had huge closing kicks in that race and could have gone on forever. That’s why I like these two to finish 1-2 in the Belmont.
Todd Pletcher has trained three Belmont Stakes winners in Rags to Riches, Palace Malic and Tapwrit. He is certainly a trainer that I want to get behind here as he tends to point his three-year-olds towards the Belmont Stakes. He won’t rush a horse if it’s not ready.
Intrepid Heart has only raced three times, and his last was his first graded stakes race. He finished 3rd in the Peter Pan Stakes after a terrible trip. In the final stretch, he cut inside instead of going outside of a backpedaling runner and had to pull up, allowing Sir Winston to pass him. On paper, it looks like he lost by six lengths, when in reality he may have won, or lost by a length or less at worst.
Like Tacitus, Intrepid Heart was sired by Tapit. As stated before, three of the past five Belmont winners have come from horsed sired by Tapit. He has the pedigree to get the distance, and with a better trip than the Peter Pan, Intrepid Heart should have what it takes to hit the board.
Sir Winston is also trained by Mark Casse, and this entrant I believe is his best chance to hit the board at the Belmont. I think War of Will is tired and doesn’t have the pedigree to get the distance. Sir Winston does, and he has proven he has a huge closing kick.
That showed in the Peter Pan Stakes as he came from way behind to finish a game 2nd. He passed Intrepid Heart in the closing stretch, who had a bad trip. Casse believes in this runner, otherwise he wouldn’t have entered him in the Belmont. He is sired by Awesome Again and he should relish the 1 1/2-mile distance.
From a wagering perspective, this is one of those rare occasions where I believe you can win a massive amount of money. That’s why I’m completely throwing out War of Will, which won the Preakness and may have won the Kentucky Derby if not for Maximum Security getting in the way and being disqualified.
War of Will is the second favorite behind Tacitus. He is a front runner who has had two great trips thus far outside of that Maximum Security incident. The Belmont is the longest of the three triple crown races and doesn’t favor front runners at all. And War of Will drew the No. 9 post, so it will be even more difficult for him to get to the front out of the gate. I think he will run out of gas either way as he is the only horse in the field to run in all three triple crown races.
I’m also throwing out Master Fencer (8/1), Everfast (12/1), Bourbon War (12/1), Spinoff (15/1) and Joevia (30/1). All five of these horses have things I don’t like about them. Master Fencer is a shipper from Japan, and they never do well. Everfast came out of nowhere to finish second in the Preakness Stakes after not having any success prior to that race. That’s the horse that I’m most worried about of the ones I left off. Bourbon War was 8th in the Preakness and didn’t show, Spinoff was terrible in the Kentucky Derby, and Joevia is easily the worst horse in the field and doesn’t belong.
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