Since American Pharoah won the Triple Crown in 2015, this is the second straight year that we won't have a shot at a repeat in the Belmont Stakes. Always Dreaming won the Derby but then no-showed the Preakness won by Cloud Computing. Even worse, unlike last year when Preakness winner Exaggerator was the Belmont favorite (who forgot to run and finished well back of the winner), it seems very likely that neither the Derby nor the Preakness winner will be in the Belmont. Neither has been officially ruled out, but when you combine what the trainers have said with their general tendencies it doesn't look good in either case. Don't despair, though. We are still left with a solid and entertaining race. As of right now 13 horses are aimed at the Belmont, though that is almost certain to shrink as the race draws nearer. Here's a quick Belmont field early look:
Classic Empire: He was a hard-luck fourth in the Derby after a serious collision out of the gate. And he looked to have the Preakness won in the stretch before getting run down by Cloud Computing near the wire. He's slowly climbing the ladder, but he still hasn't been able to replicate his best races from last year. He is well positioned to be favored in this race.
Lookin at Lee: He got an ideal trip to finish a strong second in the Derby. Things didn't set up nearly as well for him in the Preakness, but he still showed his class by rounding out the superfecta by finishing fourth. He's a horse with heart that exceeds his talent, and that will make him dangerous in this incredibly challenging race.
Conquest Mo Money: He was left behind out of the gate in the Preakness, and that left him off the pace and changed the composure of the race. It was a truly terrible ride by an inexperienced jockey. He needs better guidance here, and it seems like he will get it.
Multiplier: This horse ran a totally forgettable race in the Preakness, finishing seventh. I just had to go back and watch the replay of the race again because I honestly had no recollection of anything he had done. And after watching it that's not surprising -- his race was totally forgettable.
Senior Investment: He got up for third in the Preakness to round out a very lucrative trifecta. He benefitted from circumstances in the race, but he ran well enough and has shown a habit of being right in the mix of things in a lot of races. Despite the third in the Preakness, he'll still offer a fat price to backers here.
Derby Runners Back for More
Gormley: I didn't think this horse was going to be a factor in the Derby, and he proved me right with a ninth-place finish. Now he's back for more, and I'm no more excited about his prospects and potential here than I was in Kentucky.
Irap: Trainer Doug O'Neill finished 18th in the Derby with this horse, and then he was last in Preakness with Term of Art. Now he's back here to finish off the trifecta of awfulness this year. And he has the horse to do it. I don't think that the Derby result was too much of an upset -- he maybe wasn't that bad, but he was a long way from good enough.
J Boys Echo: This was one of the bigger disappointments in the Derby for me. I didn't think he was going to win, but I thought he had a shot at being a factor in the superfecta. I respected the horse. And he had a lousy day. He just never seemed comfortable and never showed a fraction of what he is capable of. I'm happy he is back here for another shot so we get a chance to see what he is made of.
Patch and Tapwrit: I'll group these two together because they are in the same position. Neither of these Todd Pletcher stablemates had a great Derby day -- though Tapwrit was better than Patch. They will come into this race well-rested and following a path much more common and comfortable for Pletcher than the path that Always Dreaming and Super Saver did so unsuccessfully. Pletcher likes his horses rested, and he likes to run in New York. We should see more from these two than we did last time.
Epicharis: The last we saw this colt he was finishing a classy and narrow second behind Thunder Snow in the UAE Derby. Thunder Snow, of course, imitated a bucking bronco in the Kentucky Derby and didn't finish. Now this colt, who was undefeated in Japan before heading to Dubai, will have his shot in American racing.
Meantime: He was second in the Peter Pan Stakes last time out. That race is at Belmont, so he knows the track and likes it. Five horses have won both the Peter Pan and the Belmont -- most recently Tonalist in 2014 and notably including A.P. Indy. I wouldn't dream of using this colt in the same sentence as those two, and this year's Peter Pan was very slow. I'm a skeptic.
Twisted Tom: Chad Brown likely won't have his Preakness winner in the Belmont, but he should still be represented. This gelding is unbeaten in three starts this year, though he will be making his graded stakes debut if he runs here. He's bred to run a long way, and Brown thinks he wants a mile and a half. The way Brown in running right now I'm not inclined to doubt him.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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