The 155th running of the Belmont Stakes on June 10 will absolutely live up to one of its monikers. Long considered the “Test of a Champion”, this third leg of the Triple Crown series offers some intriguing story lines. Let’s examine a few as nine talented three-year-old males will come together in New York to decide who is the Belmont Stakes champ.
The mile-and-a-half distance of this race is always a question as none of these horses have ever raced that far and likely will never again. To gain the lion’s share of the $1.5 million purse, a combination of speed and fitness will be required.
Preakness champion National Treasure if the first runner that presents some interest. A gate-to-wire dash in the Preakness provided his first Stakes win as he had things his own way on the front end. That likely will not happen here, but trainer Bob Baffert is a master at preparing runners for BIG races.
“He has been breezing well and we think he is ready”, says Baffert. “Against this field, he better be at his very best. This race is a test of fitness.”
Arkansas Derby champion Angel of Empire rolls into New York off a fast closing third-place finish in the Kentucky Derby. Trainer Brad Cox missed on the first Saturday in May in 2021 with Essential Quality but bounced back in the Belmont with an impressive score.
Blue Grass Stakes champion Tapit Trice has a style that may be made to order for the Belmont distance. Trainer Todd Pletcher has won Belmont Park’s signature race on four previous occasions (2007, 2013, 2017, 2022) and enlists the services of the courageous Luis Saez for this run.
Florida Derby champion and 2022 Juvenile Male champ Forte might be the most intriguing. Listed as the morning line favorite in this race (5-2), this Todd Pletcher trainee was the same in the Kentucky Derby before being scratched the morning of by state veterinarians. With the foot bruise now healed, this son of Violence seems ready to unleash his lethal home stretch kick.
“He’s been training great”, says Pletcher. “The big challenge is the ten-week break between races and the distance. This race truly is the test of a champion.”
The remainder of the Belmont Stakes field is comprised of solid runners like the Brad Cox-trained Hit Show and Tapit Shoes, Peter Pan Stakes winner Arcangelo, son of Gun Runner Il Miracolo, and Steve Asmussen closer Red Route One.
Carded as race 12 with an expected post time of 6:02 pm central, this mile-and-a-half test will determine which champion is a champion.