June 19, 2024

Get to know the 2023 Belmont Stakes contenders

The Belmont Stakes trophy (Photo by Harold Roth/Horsephotos.com)

***Updated after Tuesday’s draw with post positions and morning line odds

Although no Triple Crown will be on the line in the June 10 Belmont (G1), the 1 1/2-mile “Test of the Champion” could pit scratched Kentucky Derby (G1) favorite Forte against Preakness (G1) winner National Treasure.

Forte, the 2022 champion two-year-old colt, was last seen landing the Florida Derby (G1). The Todd Pletcher trainee developed a foot bruise during Kentucky Derby week, prompting his scratch by order of the state veterinarian on the morning of the Run for the Roses. Later that day, Mage, the Florida Derby runner-up, went on to capture the Kentucky Derby. Forte was placed on the vet’s list, which ruled him out of the Preakness, but he’s back breezing with an eye toward the Belmont.

Pletcher’s duo who remained in the Derby, Tapit Trice (seventh) and Kingsbarns (14th), are likewise in the Belmont mix. The best Derby finisher under consideration for the Belmont is third-placer Angel of Empire, while others possibly advancing from the first to the third jewel are Hit Show (fifth), Raise Cain (eighth), Sun Thunder (11th), and Reincarnate (13th). (Update: Sun Thunder, Kingsbarns, Reincarnate, and Raise Cain have since been ruled out.)

National Treasure scored a new career high in the Preakness, giving trainer Bob Baffert a record eighth win in the middle jewel. Stablemate Arabian Lion ran himself into the discussion in the Sir Barton S., although Baffert is mulling shortening him up for the Woody Stephens (G1) on Belmont Day.

Here are the candidates for the 155th edition of the Belmont, pending the June 6 draw:

Kentucky Derby alumni

Angel of Empire, post 8, 7-2

Arkansas Derby (G1) and Risen Star (G2) hero was a hard-charging third as the post-time favorite in the Kentucky Derby.

Owner: Albaugh Family Stables; Trainer: Brad Cox; Jockey: Flavien Prat

Pedigree: Classic Empire-Armony’s Angel, by To Honor and Serve

Hit Show, post 7, 10-1

Withers (G3) romper and Wood Memorial (G2) near-misser was a solid fifth in the Derby.

Owner: Gary & Mary West; Trainer: Brad Cox; Jockey: Manny Franco

Pedigree: Candy Ride-Actress, by Tapit

Tapit Trice, post 2, 3-1

Blue Grass (G1) and Tampa Bay Derby (G3) winner churned on for seventh after a typically sluggish start in the Derby.

Owner: Whisper Hill Farm & Gainesway Stable; Trainer: Todd Pletcher; Jockey: Luis Saez

Pedigree: Tapit-Danzatrice, by Dunkirk

Preakness graduates

National Treasure, post 4, 5-1

Blinkers back on did the trick in his stakes breakthrough in the Preakness, where he controlled the pace and battled gamely.

Owners: SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables et al; Trainer: Bob Baffert; Jockey: John Velazquez

Pedigree: Quality Road-Treasure, by Medaglia d’Oro

Red Route One, post 9, 15-1

Bath House Row S. winner, previously a bridesmaid on the Derby trail, wound up fourth in a Preakness that did not set up for his late kick.

Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds; Trainer: Steve Asmussen; Jockey: Joel Rosario

Pedigree: Gun Runner-Red House, by Tapit

Newcomers

Forte, post 6, 5-2 favorite

Champion juvenile extended his winning streak in the April 1 Florida Derby, but fitness could be a question since his scratch from the Kentucky Derby.

Owner: Repole Stable & St. Elias Stable; Trainer: Todd Pletcher; Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.

Pedigree: Violence-Queen Caroline, by Blame

Arcangelo, post 3, 8-1

Late bloomer stepped up from his maiden win to take the Peter Pan (G3).

Owner: Blue Rose Farm; Trainer: Jena Antonucci; Jockey: Javier Castellano

Pedigree: Arrogate-Modeling, by Tapit

Il Miracolo, post 5, 30-1

Recent Gulfstream Park allowance winner has been well beaten in all five stakes attempts, including the Florida Derby.

Owner: Alexandres; Trainer: Antonio Sano; Jockey: Marcos Meneses

Pedigree: Gun Runner-Tapit’s World, by Tapit

Tapit Shoes, post 1, 20-1

Half-brother to Cyberknife was just denied in the Bath House Row.

Owners: Spendthrift Farm, Steve Landers Racing, Martin Schwartz et al; Trainer: Brad Cox; Jockey: Jose Ortiz

Pedigree: Tapit-Awesome Flower, by Flower Alley

2 Comments on Get to know the 2023 Belmont Stakes contenders

  1. KingsBarns and Red Route one have let me down twice already so they’re out. I’m torn between Forte and Arabian Lion. Time will tell before I make my final decision on which horse should win the title and which trainer will hold the reigning title. hmmm! stats stats hmmm!

  2. whirlaway won the Ky Derby in 1941 , the year I was born with Eddie Arcaro aboard. The Triple Crown? 13 Winners Go Forte in the Belmont. if you watch the 2010 Ky.Derby start. I’m standing behind the 17 horse at the start in a yellow jacket in the parking lot with my hands up. Millions saw me.

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