There’s a good chance that either Brad Cox or Todd Pletcher emerges with a victorious horse at the Belmont Stakes this weekend. Cox has entered three horses in the nine-horse field including one of the favorites in Angel of Empire. Meanwhile, Pletcher has the two favorites to win the race in Tapit Trice and Forte, making it difficult for another trainer to pick up a victory at one of the American Classics.
Belmont Stakes Betting Lines
2023 Belmont Stakes Field
PP - Horse - Jockey - Trainer - Odds
1 – Tapit Shoes – Jose Ortiz – Brad Cox – 20/1
2 – Tapit Trice – Luis Saez – Todd Pletcher – 3/1
3 – Arcangelo – Javier Castellano – Jena Antonucci – 8/1
4 – National Treasure – John Velazquez – Bob Baffert – 5/1
5 – Il Miracolo – Marcos Meneses – Antonio Sano – 30/1
6 – Forte – Irad Ortiz Jr. – Todd Pletcher – 5/2
7 – Hit Show – Manny Franco – Brad Cox – 10/1
8 – Angel of Empire – Flavien Prat – Brad Cox – 7/2
9 – Red Route One – Joel Rosario – Steve Asmussen – 15/1
There are four horses to watch entering the Belmont Stakes. Forte is the most important one to pay attention to as he was the favorite to win the Kentucky Derby last month before being scratched on the morning of the Run for the Roses. There was no official explanation given for the scratch, but the issue kept him out of the Preakness Stakes too, depriving him of two potential jewels of the Triple Crown.
Forte was seen as the best three-year-old for most of the year prior to the injury. He won the Breeders’ Futurity and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in 2022, and he also claimed first place at the Fountain of Youth Stakes and the Florida Derby. In all four of those races, Forte posted a speed rating of at least 102, so it will be hard to beat him if he is at his best.
Tapit Trice is the second favorite, and this is another horse trained by Todd Pletcher. This horse won four straight races in the leadup to the Kentucky Derby, including the Grade 3 Tampa Bay Derby and the Grade 1 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes. Tapit Trice only finished with a speed rating above 100 once though, and that ended up being a problem at the Kentucky Derby. At that race, he finished in seventh place although he closed as the second favorite behind Angel of Empire.
Speaking of Angel of Empire, he has hit the board in all four of his stakes races during the new year. After a runner-up finish at the Smart Jones Stakes, he won the Risen Star Stakes and put on a great finish at the Arkansas Derby to win by more than four lengths ahead of longshot King Russell. Angel of Empire posted a fantastic 106 speed figure in that race, making him the favorite at Churchill Downs after Forte was scratched. Unfortunately, Angel of Empire fell too far behind in the Run for the Roses and finished in third place behind Mage and Two Phil’s.
Since this is a big race, Bob Baffert has a horse in the game. Baffert is only taking one horse to Elmont, New York, but the greatest trainer of his generation can never be overlooked. Even though Baffert has won six times at the Kentucky Derby and eight times at the Preakness Stakes, he has only won three times at the Belmont Stakes.
The big question regarding National Treasure is whether or not he has the stamina to go the distance. National Treasure won the Preakness Stakes a few weeks ago and has been very consistent with speed figures between 99 and 102 in five races since October. However, that could lead to him faltering down the stretch.
Belmont Stakes Picks
I am a believer in Forte and would box him in any exotics you might be considering for the Belmont Stakes. Angel of Empire looks like a solid bet too, so those are the two anchors I’m using for any wagers on Saturday while staying away from both Tapit Trice and National Treasure.
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