There seemed to be some doubt as to whether the Belmont Stakes was going to take place. With smoke from the wildfires in Canada coming in, sporting events were in danger. But the skies cleared up and action at Belmont Park continued Friday.
Post time for Saturday’s race is 7:02 PM ET. Of course, it will be contested over a mile and a half, and none of these horses has ever traveled that distance before.
National Treasure led from the start in the Preakness Stakes a few weeks ago. And now he has a chance to make it two Triple Crown wins in a row. That would give him the inside track on being named the Three-Year-Old champion. But conditions were agreeable for Bob Baffert’s colt at Pimlico. Most observers feel that he would be pushed, but the pace won’t be blistering. That hurts the deep closers, of which there are several. But a couple of them might stalk.
And the scratched favorite from the Kentucky Derby is back. Forte missed that race and the Preakness, but he returns as the betting choice once again.
Here are the numbers……
This is how the Belmont Stakes betting odds look at BetOnline.
2023 Belmont Stakes Odds
|8 Angel of Empire||+330|
|2 Tapit Trice||+330|
|4 National Treasure||+5500|
|7 Hit Show||+1200|
|9 Red Route One||+1800|
|1 Tapit Shoes||+2000|
|5 Il Miracolo||+5000|
Is Forte a weak favorite?
There is no question about Forte’s credentials. Todd Pletcher’s three-year-old is on a five-race win streak. And he may not be far off the pace in this one. In other words, he won’t need them to light it up on the front end. But look how long it’s been since he’s competed. It’s been over two months now. Also, is this a horse that is best suited for the distance (1-1/2 miles)?
You really can’t ignore the record, however. There are four Grade 1 wins, with each of them carrying a speed rating over 100. Pletcher says everything is in order. So the only reason to shy away might be a short price in a race with a number of capable opponents.
Angel of Empire – Blinkers ON
Perhaps Forte’s strongest opponent is Angel of Empire, who was a closing third in the Kentucky Derby. This Brad Cox-trained colt needs some pace at the front. If he gets it, he might be able to come on like a freight train.
But Cox has an alternate strategy. Perhaps anticipating that no one is going to set a blistering pace, he’s putting blinkers on his horse. What he and jockey Flavian Prat are hoping is that this will help him stay closer to the pack. That way, when he’s ready to make a move, he won’t have that far to make up.
At Churchill Downs, he made up a lot of ground after falling way behind. The general feeling is that the Grade I Arkansas Derby winner is trending upward.
You know, Tapit never won the Belmont Stakes. But he has sired four winners of the “Test of the Champion.” And his presence will be felt here. He directly sired Tapit Trice and Tapit Shoes. And he is in the pedigree of four others.
A darkhorse in gray, if you will
Tapit is the grandsire of Arcangelo, a gray horse trained by Jena Antonucci, who has only one graded stakes win to her credit. After breaking maiden, Arcangelo passed his first test with a win in the Peter Pan Stakes. The sire is Arrogate, the marvelous horse who won the Breeders Cup Classic, Pegasus World Cup and Dubai World Cup. Also in his pedigree are Belmont winners Jazil and Rags to Riches. There is little question that he is bred for this distance. And he’ll be staking the leaders, with a closing kick. At this price, you may have some real value.
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