This year we might have a different winner of each leg of the Triple Crown with the favorite Tacitus being a horse that skipped out on the Preakness after a fourth place finish in the Kentucky Derby.
Here are odds and reasons why each horse can and cannot win the Belmont Stakes by post position.
#1 Joevia (30-1, Trainer: Gregory Sacco, Jockey: Jose Lezcano)
Why he can win: He definitely wants the front end, he draws a great post position to secure it early. He’s coming in fresh off a victory in a graded stakes race at Monmouth and at least speed figure wise, he fits in well with the field.
Why he cannot win: In his only graded stakes attempt this year he finished a very disappointing seventh and seemed to tire after a pace duel early. His ideal distance seems much shorter than the mile and a half of the Belmont Stakes and he appears a tad bit overmatched.
#2 Everfast (12-1, Dale Romans, Luis Saez)
Why he can win: His last start in the Preakness Stakes was by far his most impressive closing from as many as 22-lengths back to finish second. He definitely seemed to relish the added furlongs, and his closing style is most conducive to a longer distance race like the Belmont Stakes.
Why he cannot win: His only win came in his first ever career start against Maiden company, and since then he has really struggled bouncing between decent efforts and really poor ones. He has shown a tendency to tire in the stretch and a lack of late run which does not bode well especially out of closing type horses.
#3 Master Fencer (8-1, Koichi Tsunoda, Julien Leparoux)
Why he can win: In his only North American start in the Kentucky Derby he rallied late after a very slow beginning. This colt managed to get up for seventh, but only four lengths off the eventual winner. Without veering wide in the stretch, it would have been intriguing to see how much better he could have placed.
Why he cannot win: We’ve only seen one start on North American soil and the horses in Japan he has beaten before do not compare to the difficulty he will be up against today. Since the Derby his workout times have appeared very slow, and there are questions about how his pedigree will handle the distance.
#4 Tax (15-1, Danny Gargan, Irad Ortiz Jr.)
Why he can win: His effort in the Derby definitely seemed like a rarity, and it is very possible he just did not take well to the sloppy track. Timing wise he has put forth some of the race’s quickest efforts, and he was second best to Tacitus who worked out a perfect trip in the Wood Memorial.
Why he cannot win: He is at his best when on the front end, but he may not be fast enough to secure that early position upfront. Expecting this colt to rebound after a poor Derby effort off only a couple of weeks does not seem very likely.
#5 Bourbon War (12-1, Mark Hennig, Mike Smith)
Why he can win: He had a excuse last time out in the Preakness not taking well to the addition of blinkers. With speed projected, he might be able to work out a very good trip sitting just off the pace. He also gains the mount of Mike Smith who is fresh off a Triple Crown victory concluding in last year’s Belmont Stakes.
Why he cannot win: One could argue his form is regressing after a very impressive Fountain of Youth effort he has finished out of the money twice in a row. If he puts forth an effort anything like his last two, he is a very easy toss and shouldn’t finish anywhere near hitting the board.
#6 Spinoff (15-1, Todd Pletcher, Javier Castellano)
Why he can win: This runner has gotten out to quick starts in four of his five prior races. Speed wise he is very quick, and could be dangerous if he can make it uncontested on the front end.
Why he cannot win: He only has five career races and outside of his victory against optional claiming company in early 2019, he has no impressive wins or efforts against quality competition. Having a good start is pivotal for the runner who has shown that he could fade badly if contested early on.
#7 Sir Winston (12-1, Mark Casse, Joel Rosario)
Why he can win: He closed nicely last time out in the Grade 3 Peter Pan Stakes. It is great to see a horse entering another race off their best ever career effort, and he possesses one of the only 100+ speed figure in the field. It is a good sign to see him raced back so quickly.
Why he cannot win: Outside of his most recent effort in the Peter Pan Stakes, his efforts in other graded stakes races have been subpar. He has yet to beat any real contenders, or even show that he can compete with a field as tough as this. I think asking this horse to all of a sudden put forth his best effort against Grade 1 runners is too tough of a task.
#8 Intrepid Heart (10-1, Todd Pletcher, John R. Velazquez)
Why he can win: He is definitely one of the best runners bred for the mile and a half distance. He has shown a nice bit of early speed, and being lightly raced and fresh could work to his advantage. If there was not a stumble at the beginning of last race, perhaps he would still be undefeated.
Why he cannot win: With only three career races and one start within the graded stakes ranks, it is tough to decipher if this horse is overmatched. It does appear that he has been primed and pointed towards the Belmont the whole way, but his lack of experience could prove to be a detriment.
#9 War of Will (2-1, Mark Casse, Tyler Gaffalione)
Why he can win: His Preakness victory was a direct result of a perfect trip and a great ride out of jockey Tyler Gaffalione. The outside post should force him to be a little bit closer to the pace, and he should settle in very nicely.
Why he cannot win: He beat a very weak Preakness Stakes field all things considered, and he definitely benefitted huge from a perfect trip. There have been some inexcusably bad performances he has put forth, and I hate backing runners that appear to be relying on a lot of things to go their way, and a perfect trip.
#10 Tacitus (9-5, Bill Mott, Jose Ortiz Jr.)
Why he can win: His breeding points towards the Belmont Stakes being a son of Tapit. He has shown off a good trip, he is incredibly hard to beat and the return to racing on a fast surface could help with some better footing to track down the front runners in deep stretch.
Why he cannot win: He was lucky in the Tampa Bay Derby that faster fractions occurred upfront that he was able to make up for a slow break. Unfortunately that might be a recurring theme and out of the outside post, he definitely wants a good break. The hype around this runner may be more based on what he could turn out to be, rather than what we have actually seen.