The Belmont Stakes will feature two lower priced runners in Preakness winner War of Will andWood Memorial winner Tacitus (also a respectable fourth place finisher in the Kentucky Derby). They join some familiar faces in the Triple Crown trail along with some fresh longshots hoping to pull off the upset on the first Saturday of June.
Here are five need to know facts about the Belmont Stakes, along with two horses worthy of taking a closer look to top off your exotic wagers.
Need to Know Belmont Stakes Facts
1. Despite being one of the best trainers in the game today, Mark Casse has never started a horse in the Belmont Stakes. Saturday he will have two entered in Preakness winner War of Will and Peter Pan Stakes runner-up Sir Winston. The winningest trainer in this year’s Belmont Stakes field? Todd Pletcher with three.
2. Another familiar face with Belmont Park racing experience, but never getting a start in the Belmont Stakes itself is War of Will’s jockey Tyler Gaffalione. This year was also his first ever ride in the Preakness Stakes and we all know how well that went for him.
3. The largest margin of victory is 31 lengths by the greatest of all time, Secretariat in 1973. He also owns the fastest time setting a world record on a 1.5-mile dirt track clocking in at 2:24. He currently, and probably forever, will hold the record for times within Triple Crown races.
4. The largest upset victory was 70/1 winner Sarava in 2002, ending the Triple Crown bid of War Emblem. With no morning line set higher than 30/1, I doubt any horse will hit anywhere near those odds at post time to produce any type of similar payout.
5. Tapit has sired three of the most recent five Belmont Stakes winners in Tonalist, Creator, and Tapwrit. He looks for another winner today with Bourbon War, Intrepid Heart, and Tacitus.
Bourbon War (12/1 Morning Line)
The addition of blinkers in the Preakness definitely did not help his chances as he disappointed after receiving a lot of attention as a fresh face in the Triple Crown trail. He removes the blinkers today, which did not help at all, and perhaps may have proven more of a hinderance than a positive addition.
His best effort is a runner up finish in the Fountain of Youth to a very game Code of Honor in a late stretch rally. The added furlongs look to be a positive as his powerful closing kick sets him apart.
With quite a few speedy runners in the field in Joevia, Tax, and Spinoff, I would not be surprised to see this horse closing on the front runners late and benefitting from a potential pace duel or faster fractions upfront. Bourbon War is a runner that could be sitting on a perfect trip and if given an opportunity to flaunt it, has one of the most dangerous late closing kicks.
Most Likely Winner
Tacitus (9/5 Morning Line)
He won three straight races before falling victim to the slop in the Kentucky Derby and broke a tad bit slow never really having much of a chance, but still finishing a respectable fourth.
The choice to skip out on the Preakness may pay off for him as the extra two weeks off to prepare could really make all the difference for young runners. Pedigree wise everything screams distance and he really should excel at the longest leg of the Triple Crown.
On the male side he is a son of Tapit and his success in North American stakes racing speaks for itself, and on the female side, dam Close Hatches is a multiple graded stakes winner and has won going as long as a mile and eighth who banked $2.7 million career. Tacitus certainly looks like the one to beat and his pedigree makes him appear as even more of a standout traveling the grueling Belmont Stakes distance.