Horses that can Win the Belmont Stakes in 2023
Now that the dreams of another Triple Crown have been dashed with National Treasure's victory at the 148th Preakness Stakes, handicapping begins for the last, and most grueling, leg of the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes. Known as the "Test of Champion", the 1.5-mile race is the oldest and longest leg of the Triple Crown. First run in 1867, the race was originally even longer than the 1.5 miles it is today at 1 5/8 miles. It changed lengths several times before 1926 and adopted the 1.5 miles it's known for today. This distance was changed once in 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic.
This year's edition of the Belmont Stakes looks to be a star-studded race, with Forte making his first appearance in this year's Triple Crown. The heavy Kentucky Derby favorite was scratched on race day because of bruised right front foot. In addition to Forte, four other Derby runners skipped the Preakness to focus on the Belmont. With such a talent-ladened field, handicapping skills will be critical in trying to determine who will come out on top. Let Doc’s guide you through the traffic so you can take a trip to the winner's circle in this year's Belmont.
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Trainer: Todd Pletcher Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.
“If” is the biggest word in sports, and it definitely holds true here. After injuring his foot and being scratched on Derby Day, Forte's camp was forced to watch Mage, who Forte had run down with ease in the Florida Derby, win "The Run for the Roses". Then two weeks later, they had to endure National Treasure, another foe beaten by Forte last year at the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1), winning the second jewel of the crown. Finally, after a disappointing 5-week wait, Forte gets his shot to prove the hype was right. All indications are that he will do just that.
Tapit Trice (7-2)
Trainer: Todd Pletcher Jockey: Luis Saez
If you're a stout pedigree handicapper, then Tapit Trice is the easy selection. His sire, Tapit, has seen his progeny win four out of the last nine Belmonts. Trainer Todd Pletcher, who already has four Preakness victories on his resume, has been telling anybody who listens that Tapit Trice is the horse to beat this Saturday. He had some trouble in the Kentucky Derby with tactical speed and maneuvering, which he will have to overcome in order to beat Forte.
Angel of Empire (4-1)
Trainer: Brad Cox Jockey: Flavien Prat
Due to a plethora of scratches in this year's Derby, Angel of Empire went off as the 4-1 post-time favorite. He ran his customary deep closer race. However, because of traffic issues, he didn't have enough time to pull into the clear and instead finished a fast-closing, but disappointing, 3rd. This is another horse whose focus is on longer, route races. It is imperative that his jockey,, Flavien Prat, run more of a close, stalking race as deep closers haven't had much luck in previous Belmonts.
National Treasure (6-1)
Trainer: Bob Baffert Jockey: John Velazquez
The Triple Crown spoiler, National Treasure, grabbed the early lead and fought off a valiant effort by Blazing Sevens to win the 148th Preakness wire-to-wire. If the Belmont's pace develops as moderately as the Preakness, National Treasure could give Bob Baffert his fourth Belmont victory.
Trainer: Jena Antonucci Jockey: Javier Catellano
One of the more intriguing long-shots, Arcangelo is another horse whose pedigree is built for stamina. His sire, Arrogate, has an impressive record that includes wins in the 2016 Travers Stakes (G1), 2016 Breeders' Cup Classic (G1), and the 2017's Pegasus World Cup and Dubai World Cup, both also Grade 1 stakes. He could be an excellent pick to spice up your exotic bets.
Hit Show (15-1)
Trainer: Brad Cox Jockey: Manny Franco
Hit Show ran a wonderful race in the Kentucky Derby...and still finished 5th. Jockey Manny Franco said this about the race "I had a dream trip. My horse ran really well, he just got beat by better horses". That doesn't inspire much confidence in a field that, while much smaller, will be filled with tougher competition that the May 6th race. Hit Show might have a chance if the race develops as slowly as the experts are predicting and Franco can get him into a close stalking position.
Red Route One (20-1)
Trainer: Steve Asmussen Jockey: Joel Rosario
Jockey Joel Rosario ran an intelligent race by changing tactics and style mid-race after noticing the pace of the Preakness was rather tepid. Even with the change, the best he could muster was a 4th-place finish behind National Treasure. While his deep closing style limits his chances of taking a trip to the winners' circle, it's entirely possible that he catches some fading opponents near the finish line and spruces up some exotics.
Raise Cain (30-1)
Trainer: Ben Colebrook Jockey: Junior Alvarado
Raise Cain made some noise when he won the Kentucky Derby Prep race Gotham (G3) by 7 1/2 lengths. Mind you, it was on a sloppy track and another horse had ejected his jockey and sped the pace up by running riderless. In his two more conventional starts since, he has not been of consequence, finishing 5th in the Blue Grass and 8th in the Kentucky Derby. If it's raining on Saturday and a jockey gets tossed, Raise Cain is your horse.
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