The field for the Belmont Stakes is much stronger than the one they had for the Preakness, and that is the good news. There is more of a storyline as well, because Forte, who was considered a genuine Triple Crown contender before being scratched from the Kentucky Derby and required to stay out of the Preakness as well, has a clean bill of health and is ready to go.
National Treasure, who won the Preakness, is presaent and accounted for as well, as trainer Bob Baffert is back at Belmont.
There's more to say about these emntrants as well, in a race that has considerable talent.
So here's a brief preview of each horse, as we give you the odds to win the 2023 Belmont Stakes from BetOnline:
6 FORTE +250
Yes, maybe this is the best horse in the field. But the best laid plans may have gone awry when he was scratched from the Kentucky Derby with a bruised front foot. Now he hasn't raced since April 1. And there has been some discussion about whether he's bred for this race. As far as trainer Todd Pletcher's told reporters, everything is in order.
There is no doubting the credentials; Forte has won four Grade I races - the Hopeful, Breeders Futurity, Breeders Cup Juvenile and Florida Derby. Things may work out for him in on a situational basis; he's got late speed, and is not likely to be too far off the pace. But that period of inactivity bothers some people who might ordinarily back him.
8 ANGEL OF EMPIRE +350
Went off the favorite in the Kentucky Derby after Forte was scratched. And after coming from way off the pace, he closed pretty strong, from way wide. Victories in the Risen Star and Arkansas Derby look pretty good on the resume, and chalked up a Beyer Speed Figure of 104 at Churchill Downs.
This is a deep closer, and under normal circumstances, may look for a lot of pace. Jockey Flavian Prat suggested blinkers, which he'll wear. The horse works out with them, so no problem there. And the hope is that he may be able to stay focused and more in touch with the field.
2 TAPIT TRICE +300
This is a direct descendant of Tapit, who did not win the Belmont himself. But he has sired four previous Belmont winners. Thus, here is a contender who has been bred to go the mile and a half distance. In the Kentucky Derby, had a rough trip. Was bumped, stuck back in the pack, and while he passed horses in the stretch, was never a factor. There was speculation that he may have burned himself out in a stirring Blue Grass Stakes victory.
4 NATIONAL TREASURE +500
Provided trainer Bob Baffert with his eighth Preakness Stakes victory. It's interesting - that was his only win since breaking maiden. And he got just the right trip, running from the from the entire time. Baffert says "He's getting better and better," and that he should handle the distance. Justify and American Pharoah have wired the Belmont field for Baffert. But this horse is not of that caliber.
3 ARCANGELO +800
Of course, the name means "arch angel," and this horse flew high last time out, winning the Peter Pan Stakes (at Belmont) by a head. I guess it's a bit of a concern that it took him three tries to break maiden. And inexperience isn't working in his favor; Arcangelo is lightly raced, having had only four starts. Trainer Jena Antonucci, who used to work for D. Wayne Lukas, has just two stakes wins, and the Peter Pan was the first stakes triumph for the owners at Blue Rose Farm.
But there's some breeding on this gray colt's side. First of all, the sire is Arrogate, and in case you don't remember this awesome horse, he was a winner of the Breeders Cup Classic, the Pegasus World Cup, the Dubai World Cup and the Travers at Saratoga (setting a record and posting a Beyer Speed Figure of 122). He was able to win the Eclipse Award as three-year-old champion without competing in a Triple Crown race.
And we can find Tapit in this pedigree as well. That's the grandsire (by way of Modeling). Also in these bloodlines are Jazil and Rags to Riches, both Belmont Stakes winners, so there is no doubt that Arcangelo has been bred to run in a race like this.
He registered a Beyer of 97 last time out, and Antonucci absolutely insists he is trending upward in a big way. This is not a deep closer, so he'll stalk the pace and put himself in good position. He gets a win ticket from me.
7 HIT SHOW +1000
Broke from the rail in the Kentucky Derby and finished fifth. Lost ground down the stretch. Carried decent credentials into that. Won the Withers and finished second by a nose in the Wood Memorial. One of three contestants trained by Brad Cox. The two-time Eclipse Award winner captured the Belmont in 2021 with Essential Quality. Hit Show doesn't have enough quality to win this race.
9 RED ROUTE ONE +1500
This son of Gun Runner finished fourth in the Preakness. This is a deep closer, so he'll be looking for a swift pace. The problem is, he's not as good as the other closers in this field. And he has been beaten soundly by the best entries in this field.
1 TAPIT SHOES +2000
This is another son of Tapit, trained by Brad Cox. Has never competed in a graded stakes race before. This is not the place where you're going to "break your cherry." He may stay close to the front for as long as he can. Maybe as a pace-setter to help Angel of Empire or Tapit Trice?
5 IL MIRACOLO +3000
Improving, but still way too slow to compete here. Only $103 K in earnings, and has been off the board in all his stakes races.
We're betting Angel of Empire, Arcangelo and Forte in the exacta box, with win bets on Arcangelo and Angel of Empire.
Join the $5000 First and Last Contest for the Belmont Stakes at BetOnline, where you can wager on races from all over the world, and indluge in props for the big race, including head-to-head matchups in the sportsbook........ And it's so easy to establish an account; just use your credit card or pick from a virtual plethora of crypto options, like Bitcoin, Litecoin and Ethereum!