Intrepid Heart Odds to win the 2019 Belmont Stakes with Expert Predictions
Todd Pletcher returns to the Triple Crown trail after skipping the Preakness - something he typically does unless he has a Derby winner to bring along. He has two horses here this year - a major Derby disappointment in Spinoff, and a very lightly raced colt with regal breeding in Intrepid Heart. It's the latter that we are interested in here. There are a lot of reasons to be skeptical of this colt in the Belmont but also a couple of reasons to be at least a little intrigued. So, can Intrepid Heart pull off the upset and win the Belmont?
Last race: The Peter Pan Stakes is best known recently as being the race that produced 2014 Belmont winner Tonalist - a son of Tapit just like Intrepid Heart. The race happens the week after the Kentucky Derby at Belmont, and it was the stakes debut for this colt. It was only a five-horse field, and he put himself at an early disadvantage when he stumbled out of the gate. He was fourth much of the way and fifth entering the stretch. He made a mild move up to grab third but weakened as the line neared. It wasn't a hugely inspiring third-place finish. And the fact that this race is three-eighths of a mile longer than that one is a concern given how he looked towards the end then.
Career highlights: To call this horse lightly raced would be an understatement. He made his debut only in February at Oaklawn Park. It wasn't a particularly noteworthy race, but he absolutely dominated it, pulling away by almost eight lengths - a strong margin for an eight-length race. He jumped into an allowance race at Keeneland next time out. And though his win was much less dominant, he still came out on top. Those two wins were enough to earn him a stakes appearance in the Peter Pan. Coming into a race as long and tough as the Belmont is, and in front of a large and vocal crowd, is a lot to ask from a horse with so little experience.
Jockey: We don't know for sure, but it is going to be a good one. Trainer Todd Pletcher has secured John Velazquez, his regular first call jockey, and frequent partner Javier Castellano, to ride his two Belmont horses. At this point, though, the riders have not been assigned their mounts. It doesn't particularly matter. Both know this track very well, and both are among the top jockeys out there. Velazquez is a hall of famer who has won this race twice and finished in the top three five more times. And Castellano is also a hall of famer. He hasn't won this race yet, but he won the Preakness twice and has been second in this race three times.
Trainer: Todd Pletcher's lack of success in the Kentucky Derby is well documented, and he has generally had struggles on the Triple Crown trail this year. But he is one of the top trainers on the planet, he has dominated New York racing for many years, and he has won this race three times - with the great filly Rags to Riches, Palace Malice, and Tapwrit. The latter, like this colt, is a son of Tapit. He has also finished second in the Belmont five times and third three times. Pletcher has two horses aimed at the Belmont this year. And though neither is particularly strong, he will be able to get a better effort out of the colts than many would.
Pedigree: Let's not fool ourselves - the only reason this colt is in this race is because of his breeding. He has shown some talent, but not nearly enough to land here if he wasn't bred so ideally for the race. Like likely Belmont favorite Tacitus , he is a son of Tapit. That is a very good thing when it comes to this race. Tapit is a grandson of Belmont winner and legendary stamina sire A.P. Indy, who is a son of Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew and has Triple Crown hero Secretariat as a damsire. And Tapit's damsire is Unbridled, the Derby and Breeders' Cup Classic winner who has four Belmont winners among his direct descendants. Tapit is bred for this race, and it has shown - he has sired three Belmont winners since 2014 - Tonalist, Creator and Tapwrit. And Intrepid Heart's damsire is Touch Gold, who won this race in 1997 and is very well bred for this race as well - among other top influences, he is a descendant of Triple Crown winner War Admiral and is cross-bred to the great Northern Dancer. With a pedigree this well suited for the race, it's no wonder that his connections were too tempted.
Running style: The sample size of his career is just too small for us to have a real sense of how he likes to run. In his debut he wired the field. Next time out he was just off the early pace before taking the lead. And in the Peter Pan he was forced to close because of a bad start. He probably likes being closer to the front than the back, but anything is possible right now.
Belmont outlook: The breeding is impressive, and the connections are strong. And he got off to a strong start to his career. But the Peter Pan was far from impressive, and this just feels like way too much to ask too soon from the colt. He is at +1000 to win the Belmont at BetOnline, which currently makes him the fourth choice. That really feels ambitious.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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