Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:58 AM

Belmont Stakes Breakdown

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The third leg of the "Triple Crown" is set and the field is ready for the 151st running of the Belmont Stakes!

2019 Breakdown
PP - Horse ML Odds Jockey (Belmont Record) Trainer (Belmont Record)
1 – Joevia 30/1 Jose Lezcano (0-4) Greg Sacco (Debut)
Notes: Winner of the Long Branch at Monmouth most recently, the assumption is the connections are taking a shot at just wiring the field. He’s got plenty of speed and the leading rider at the meet but I don’t think it’s enough. He’s never run a race that is anywhere near fast enough to compete here and has to negotiate all of that added distance. Not for me.
2 – Everfast 12/1 Luis Saez (0-3) Dale Romans (0-10)
Notes: The Jekyll and Hyde of the crop, if you will, when you peruse his past performances. He throws a lot of clunkers in there but sometimes he runs a big one, like his runner-up finish in the Holy Bull back in February at Gulfstream when he was over 128-1 or last time in the Preakness when he finished second at almost 30-1. I don’t know about the rest of his starts but that effort last time was due in large part to a brilliant ride from Rosario. He realized the inside part of the track at Pimlico was the place to be and allowed this guy to make his stretch run along the rail. He’s never run two good races in a row. What makes me think he’s going to start in the Belmont? Pass.
3 – Master Fencer 8/1 Julien Leparoux (0-3) Koichi Tsunoda (Debut)
Notes: I’m going to let you all in on a little secret: the key to handicapping the Belmont Stakes is the Kentucky Derby. That sounds simple and generic but I cannot stress this point enough. Watch the replay of the Derby as much as you can. Isolate the runners coming back in the Belmont and look at how the finish up. You are NOT looking for the steamroll move, like the one this guy put in. Horses that make his move are optical illusions. They are picking up tired horses who are coming back to them just as much as they are picking them up. I’ll explain what you’re looking for later. This colt did not have a good time last week, missed a touch of training and simply hasn’t impressed at all in the morning. Some will chalk it up to the Japanese horses training differently but I’m not buying it. He’s not for me.
4 – Tax 15/1 Irad Ortiz, Jr. (1-5) Danny Gargan (Debut)
Notes: In a race like the Kentucky Derby, especially this renewal, that’s often filled with traffic and bad trips, this gelding had one of the easiest trips in recent memory and didn’t run a step. Maybe he didn’t handle the wet track. That could very well be the case and he flies in here under the radar at a big price and gives a good showing. I wouldn’t be stunned by that scenario but I believe it’s more likely the distance limitations I thought he may have are what really got to him last time. And if he can’t get 10 furlongs common sense suggests he won’t get 12. I’m tossing him.
5 – Bourbon War 12/1 Mike Smith (3-20) Mark Hennig (0-1)
Notes: My Preakness selection turned into the “wiseguy” horse as he was sent to post at 5-1. I was stunned. The only thing that surprised me more was his non-effort. He didn’t run at all. They’re blaming the blinkers he wore for the first time and they are coming off for this. I know equipment changes backfire sometimes but that was ridiculous. Hoping it was a combination of the blinkers and maybe him needing a race off of a seven-week break. One of three sons of Tapit in here, he must be respected on his pedigree alone but you lost some value when Money Mike climbed aboard. I’m going to use him in my exotic wagers.
6 – Spinoff 15/1 Javier Castellano (0-12) Todd Pletcher (3-26)
Notes: This guy is the “wiseguy” horse for the Belmont. Bad post, sloppy track, chased pace….just some of his Derby excuses. Now he’s had five weeks between starts, picks up a Hall of Fame rider and his trainer has a solid record in this event. All makes sense BUT he was another who had a pretty clean trip in the Derby that didn’t make the slightest impact. His Louisiana Derby effort was solid and the race produced Derby winner Country House and Preakness winner War of Will but they far from fired their best shots that day. The horses who did aren’t much. One of those who I’m passing on but I can understand why some may like him.
7 – Sir Winston 21/1 Joel Rosario (1-7) Mark Casse (Debut)
Notes: Ran the race of his life when he made up close to 10 lengths in the stretch of the traditional Belmont Park prep for this, the Peter Pan. He’s usually making up ground at the end of his races but rarely gets his picture taken because he leaves himself with too much to do. It’s tough for one-run closers like him to win this race despite the legend that they love the extra distance. There doesn’t appear to be enough speed in here for a complete collapse on the front end that would afford him the chance to win but I’ll be using him in all of my exotic plays.
8 – Intrepid Heart 10/1 John Velazquez (2-22) Todd Pletcher (3-26)
Notes: He looked good winning the first two starts of his career but disappointed in the Peter Pan when he stumbled at the start from his rail draw. Johnny V had the choice of the two Pletcher runners and chose him. He also suggested a pair of blinkers for this, not to put more speed into him, but to get him to focus more. He’s another by Tapit and a half brother to 2014 Belmont Stakes runner-up Commissioner. I can’t imagine he’ll be too far from the lead. At some point, he’ll likely be in front, on the far turn, I imagine. It’ll be up to him from there. I’m a big fan of his and will be using him in all of my exotic plays.
9 – War of Will 2/1 Tyler Gaffalione (Debut) Mark Casse (Debut)
Notes: He’s the only horses to run in all three legs of the Triple Crown this year, if he finds a way to win this, that number of “what if’s” will be endless. I think there’s a good chance he’d have won the Derby if Maximum Security didn’t get in his way and he came back with a very nice win in the Preakness. A closer look at the Preakness, however, and you realize just how watered down it was going in and the amount of disappointing efforts coming out of the event. Combine that with the fact that he sat a perfect trip and that he hasn’t overwhelmed in the mornings since (Casse cancelled an intended workout) and you have the makings of getting the second choice (co-favorite perhaps?) out of the gimmicks. I’m tossing him in here but have nothing for respect for him as a racehorse.
10 – Tacitus 9/5 Jose Ortiz (1-4) Bill Mott (1-7)
Notes: In any other year, he’d have been the one people would have been talking about, trip-wise anyway, out of the Derby. He was much further back that I think anyone imagined he’d be and lost some momentum at least three times during the race. After the race, it was said that he traveled the equivalent of nine lengths more than the winner. But when you almost have half the field wiped out, no one is going to talk about that. Look, I’m giving you ice in the winter here. He’s the pick but he’s likely going to be under 2-1. I will say this. I don’t think he can lose. I have as much confidence in him as any pick I’ve made in this race. I’m not making any boxes or any savers. He’s my single in all multi-race wagers and key horse in all exotic plays.



Anthony “the Big A” Stabile can be heard regularly on the Horse Racing Radio Network from 3-6:00 p.m. ETon Wednesday and 3-7:00 p.m. ET Thursday and Friday. Tune in on Sirius 219, XM 201 or streaming live at horseracingradio.net. He also is a contributor on NYRA-TV as the co-host of Talking Horses and a backup racetrack announcer. Follow him on Twitter @TheBigAStabile

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