On Saturday, Belmont Park in New York will host the 155th running of the Belmont Stakes. The event is the third leg of the American Triple Crown series.
Belmont Stakes 2023 – Analysis and Picks
Track: Belmont Park, left-handed dirt oval
Distance: 1 ½ miles (2400 metres)
Purse: $1.5 million
The race is run five weeks after the Kentucky Derby and three after the Preakness Stakes, the other two legs of the Triple Crown. The distance of 1.5 miles is the international standard Classic distance. Secretariat holds the track record with a time of 2 minutes 24 seconds set in 1973.
How to Watch
US: Fox and Fox Sports: Race 5:15 pm EST
UK: Sky Sports Racing: Race 10:15 pm
Mage won the Kentucky Derby in early May. Trained by Gustavo Delgado and ridden by Javier Castellano, Mage was the only Derby runner to appear in the Preakness two weeks later. That assignment proved too much for the colt, who faded in the race, which the Bob Baffert-trained National Treasure won.
National Treasure will compete on Saturday. Kentucky Derby favorite Forte was a late scratch in the Run for the Roses but returns after a break here and hopes to gain compensation.
Belmont Stakes Contenders
Forte – 5/2 – Trainer: Todd Pletcher Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr
Forte (pictured) missed the Kentucky Derby after a vet diagnosed a bruised right foot. The horse was back galloping two days later, so it looks like nothing more than an unfortunate setback. Forte had beaten eventual Derby winner Mage in the Florida Derby, so connections will feel aggrieved that they couldn’t take their chance.
On paper, Forte is a worthy favorite. However, there are two main concerns with Forte. The first is that he lacks a recent run. He hasn’t run since April 1. The second is the distance. The Belmont Stakes is fully three furlongs further than Forte has been before, so if you want to bet him, you’ll need to take his ability to get the trip on trust. His form and record of six wins from seven starts is the best on offer. If he gets the distance, he will win.
Angel of Empire – 3/1 – T: B Cox J: F Prat
Angel of Empire started favorite for the Kentucky Derby and finished third. The horse had every chance that day, getting a good trip, but ultimately had no excuses, which puts me off picking him here. His two previous wins were good but not great. I think the run that we saw in the Derby is the level that we can expect again. Therefore, he’ll find a couple too good.
Tapit Trice – 4/1 – T: Todd Pletcher J: Luis Saez
Tapit Trice ticks many of the boxes you want in a Belmont Stakes winner. Another Pletcher inmate, the horse, is less exposed than Forte. He had two runs as a two-year-old and performed well at age three. His wins in the Tampa Bay Derby and the Bluegrass Stakes made him a sent-off favorite in the Kentucky Derby. He ran a disappointing seventh that day and will need to bounce back here.
National Treasure – 7/1 – T: B Baffert : J: John Velasquez
National Treasure got a great ride from John Velasquez to win the Preakness.
The horse took advantage of a fragmented field that day and showed great spirit in defeating Blazing Sevens. However, it has to be said that the field wasn’t the strongest. Even the Derby winner Mage didn’t fire. National Treasure deserves credit for making the most of his opportunity, but Forte has had his measure in the past, and I don’t see why that won’t be the case again on Saturday.
Arcangelo – 12/1 – T: J Antonucci J: J Castellano
This is your upside horse. He has only four career starts so far and is improving with each one. His last race is the one that gives the most hope that he can go well in the Belmont. That was a win in Belmont Park’s Grade 3 Peter Pan Stakes. It was a pleasing performance on the eye. The horse showed guts to run down Bishops Bay in the stretch. He liked the track and certainly wasn’t stopping at the end. You can be hopeful that he’ll take the step up in distance.
Hit Show – 14/1 – T: B Cox J: M Franco
Hit Show is an interesting contender. He was relatively well fancied for the Kentucky Derby, having won the Grade 3 Withers and finishing second in the Grade 2 Wood Memorial. He finished 5th at Churchill Downs, but I’m not sure he got a great ride. Chasing a fast early pace did him no favors, and as a result, his finishing position was impressive. Hit Show may need to improve a little to take down some of the bigger guns in this, but that is certainly a possibility.
Red Route One – 16/1 T: S Asmussen J: J Rosario
Red Route One finished fourth in the Preakness. The surface result looks okay, but he really didn’t get the run of the race that day. Usually, a closer, Red Route One, was hampered by the lack of early pace at Pimlico and, as a result, never got to lay down a challenge as he’d have liked. He has a lot of experience but ultimately looks exposed, and at this level, I just don’t think he’s good enough to win.
Tapit Shoes – 33/1 – T: B Cox J: J Ortiz
Tapit Shoes has one win from his five races to date. His key piece of form here is a second-place finish behind Red Route One in the Bath House Row Stakes at Oaklawn Park. Having written off the winner of that race already here, I don’t see how even if Tapit Shoes can turn around the form with that one, he can feature at the business end of this race.
Il Miracolo – 66/1 – T: A Sano J: M. Meneses
A big old long shot. Il Miracolo would be a very surprising winner of this. Speed figures of his previous runs or nowhere near the standard required, and he has been defeated comprehensively by Forte in the past. No thanks.
Forte is the best horse in the race, there are questions to answer, but I think he could prove to be a cut above the others and get his career back on track with an emphatic win. Hit Show did okay in the Derby, and I think more will come if the horse gets a better ride. He can chase home the selection. Angel of Empire performs at a consistently high standard for your exotics and should be thereabouts at the finish.
Win: 6 Forte
Exacta: 6 Forte 7 Hit Show
Trifecta 6 Forte 7 Hit Show 8 Angel of Empire