By Jarrod Horak
The 2023 Belmont Stakes will be run later today at Belmont Park and the conditions could not be more ideal. The track is fast with sunny skies and temperatures in the mid 70’s. It is time to take one final look at the nine entrants.
1 – Tapit Shoes (20-1): Brad Cox’s Tapit colt is still eligible for an entry level allowance race. He is on the improve after a near-miss in the Bath House Row Stakes at Oaklawn. He has strong Belmont Stakes sire Tapit in his corner and will probably be forwardly placed from the inside post.
2 – Tapit Trice (3-1): Another son of Tapit, and his trainer Todd Pletcher has won the Belmont four times. Nobody is training better and the long-striding colt figures to enjoy the wide, sweeping turns at Big Sandy. He was my top choice in the Derby and I probably picked him one race too soon. I will go right back to the well and am expecting a big effort on Saturday. Top pick.
3 – Arcangelo (8-1): The Peter Pan (G3) winner has impressed in his morning activity in the lead-up to the Belmont. I am not quite sure what we will get from this one. He has plenty of upside but the Test of the Champion is usually a race for seasoned Derby and Preakness participants.
4 – National Treasure (5-1): He walked the dog in the Preakness (G1) and will try to do the same at Belmont Park. He has had interesting preparations for this race and I covered that subject in an earlier Belmont Stakes workout report. He might be the one to catch turning for home. Can he run another big race and bring home the final two legs of the Triple Crown? I picked him on top in the Preakness but am not sure he can replicate that feat in New York.
5 – Il Miracolo (30-1): He wired the field in his two victories but made no impact in his five stakes starts. The Gun Runner colt has three bullets in his holster and should be part of the pace, but I have a hard time seeing him around at the finish.
6 – Forte (5-2): His four Grade 1 wins make you stand up and take notice. He has not lost a race since July 2022 and clearly has the class to be a factor. In many ways he is probably the horse to beat but he has some big questions to answer. He was the Kentucky Derby favorite but a foot bruise caused him to drop out a day before that race. He was placed on the 14-day veterinarian list and missed the Preakness as well. He missed some training time but has not missed a beat since shipping to Belmont Park last month. He has been working with a purpose in order to build up stamina but has not faced the starter in 10 weeks. He seems to have his work cut out for him in this dirt marathon.
7 – Hit Show (10-1): If you are looking for a live price player this could be your guy. He was razor sharp in the Withers (G3) at 1 1/8 miles earlier this winter and just missed from the outside post in the Wood Memorial (G2). In the Kentucky Derby (G1), he chased strong fractions from the inside post and made a premature move before flattening out and settling for fifth. He should be lurking in midpack under Manny Franco.
8 – Angel of Empire (3-1): He is the most reliable member of this field. He fired in all five dirt routes on a fast track and took his game to the next level in his last three starts. He stretched out to 1 1/8 miles and rallied for the win in the Risen Star (G2), and was even more impressive in the Arkansas Derby (G1). He was the Kentucky Derby (G1) favorite and got a great setup and came running for the show. He is training fast like he always does and adds blinkers for the first time. They want him to be a bit closer to the pace this time. He is a logical top three contender.
9 – Red Route One (15-1): Steve Asmussen’s late striding colt has already competed in eight stakes races. He rallied to hit the board in a few of those and picked up his first stakes win over Tapit Shoes in the Bath House Row in April. He got no pace help in the Preakness (G1) and ended up an even fourth. The Belmont probably won’t set up for him either and a minor award is probably his limit.