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Belmont Park will play host to the 151st running of the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes on Saturday, June 8.
Although a Triple Crown is not on the line, Saturday's Belmont Stakes shapes up to be a fantastic betting race and one that will have a major impact on the 3-year-old male division heading into the second half of the year.
Led by Preakness Stakes winner War of Will, it appears a total of ten contenders will take to the dirt track. Let's take a look at the CONFIRMED entrants who will attempt to conquer the 1 ½-mile "Test of the Champion" and most difficult Triple Crown race!
Race 11 at Belmont Park on Saturday, June 08 - Post 6:37 PM
|3||Master Fencer (JPN)||8-1||Julien Leparoux
|4||Tax||15-1||Irad Ortiz, Jr.
|5||Bourbon War||12-1||Mike Smith
|7||Sir Winston||12-1||Joel Rosario
|8||Intrepid Heart||10-1||John Velazquez
|9||War of Will||2-1||Tyler Gaffalione
CONFIRMED - Coming fresh off an eighth-place finish in the Preakness, Bourbon War will attempt to make amends in the "`Test of a Champion." The well-bred son of Tapit and graded stakes-winner My Conquestadory is a two-time winner in his eight-race career, including a first-out graduation over the main track at Aqueduct, as well as a victory against winners at Gulfstream Park.
He was second in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park in March. Bourbon War will give trainer Mark Hennig his second career Belmont Stakes contestant, 15 years after he saddled Eddington to a fourth-place finish in 2004. He will be piloted by Hall of Famer and three-time Belmont Stakes-winner Mike Smith, who guided Justify through a memorable run in last year's Triple Crown.
CONFIRMED - Everfast, who won his debut in August 2018 and is looking for his second career victory, matched his best-ever finish in a stakes when he rallied for an impressive second at odds of 29-1 behind War of Will in the Preakness on May 18.
On the Derby trail, Everfast ran second to Harvey Wallbanger in the Grade 2 Holy Bull in February before finishing out of the money in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth and Grade 1 Florida Derby before running fifth in the Grade 3 Pat Day Mile.
With jockey Joel Rosario picking up the mount for the first time in the Preakness, Everfast rated before moving from 11th at the half-mile mark to second, giving Romans his third runner-up effort in the Triple Crown's middle jewel. Romans won the 2011 Preakness with Shackleford.
CONFIRMED - Intrepid Heart is a Kentucky-bred son of Tapit, who is also seeking a fourth Belmont Stakes winner after siring three of the past five winners, with Tonalist (2014), Creator (2016) and Tapwrit (2017).
Intrepid Heart romped to victory in his debut by 7 ¾ lengths at Oaklawn Park before a victory against winners at Keeneland. Last out, he stumbled at the gate before rallying late to finish third in the Grade 3 Peter Pan, the traditional Belmont Park prep for the Belmont Stakes.
CONFIRMED - Michael and Jeff Fazio's Joevia rebounded from a Grade 2 Wood Memorial presented by NYRA Bets effort, in which he was disqualified and placed 11th, with a strong showing in winning the Long Branch at 1 1/16 miles on May 12 at Monmouth Park, earning a personal-best 89 Beyer Speed Figure.
Sacco said jockey Jose Lezcano will pick up the mount in the 1 1/2-mile "Test of the Champion," which will mark Sacco's first-ever trainee in an American Classic.
Joevia's only off-the-board finish in five career starts came in the Wood Memorial, when he caused interference breaking from outermost post 11 on April 6 at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Joevia, who won his debut in July at Monmouth before running second in back-to-back stakes in the Jimmy Winkfield in February at Aqueduct and the Private Terms on March 16 at Laurel Park, will be making his first start at Belmont and running at longer than 1 1/8 miles. Joevia breezed Saturday at Monmouth Park, where he is stabled, going five furlongs in a minute flat, handily.
CONFIRMED - Restoring Hope finished second to eventual Sham Stakes runner-up All Out Blitz in his debut before finishing third in a race won by future Sunland Derby third-place finisher Peace. He won his 3-year-old debut on Feb. 2 at Santa Anita Park by 3 ½ lengths, earning a 108 Equibase Speed Figure. Restoring Hope initially was pointed by Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert to the Sunland Derby but did not make the field and was rerouted to the Wood Memorial,but disappointed in the Wood Memorial and Pat Day Mile.
The Belmont Stakes seems an awfully odd placement, but owners Gary and Mary West are optimists on the big stages. He's bred for the trip, and a maternal grandson of Tapit, whose success at Belmont includes siring 3 of the last 4 winners.
This seems like way too much to ask, but if Restoring Hope was to develop later this year like Arrogate or West Coast have in the past around Travers time, that would not be a total stunner. His best running style is to press the pace, and it will be curious how he is ridden if Justify is the lone target in front of him.
CONFIRMED - Sir Winston targets the Belmont Stakes off a closing second-place finish in the Grade 3 Peter Pan and will be the first Belmont Stakes starter for trainer Mark Casse.
The improving chestnut won a pair of stakes on the Tapeta at Woodbine as a juvenile, including the Display and Grade 3 Grey. In the Belmont, the son of Awesome Again, will seek his first triumph over conventional dirt.
Owner Tracy Farmer campaigned Sir Winston's stakes-winning dam, La Gran Bailadora, whose sire Afleet Alex won the Belmont in 2005. Farmer has had two previous runners in the Belmont Stakes with Royal Assault (third, 2004) and Indy Storm (fourth, 2005).
CONFIRMED - One of six Kentucky Derby competitors listed as possible for the Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets, Spinoff was a troubled 18th in the `Run for the Roses' and will seek to make amends in the `Test of a Champion' on June 8.
Spinoff won his Gulfstream Park career debut before a third-place finish in the Grade 2 Saratoga Special over the summer. Spinoff made his 3-year-old debut in February with an 11 ¾ length win at Tampa Bay Downs. Prior to the Derby, he was a game second behind By My Standards in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds. Spinoff is by Hard Spun, who ran fourth in the Belmont Stakes in 2007, and is out of Grade 1 winner Zaftig.
CONFIRMED - Tacitus enters the final leg of the Triple Crown with a third-place effort in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby as well as a pair of Grade 2 victories, including the Wood Memorial presented by NYRA Bets at Aqueduct and the Tampa Bay Derby.
Tacitus is by Tapit, the prolific stallion who has sired three of the last five winners of the Belmont Stakes: Tonalist (2014), Creator (2016) and Tapwrit (2017).
Tacitus carries five generations of the prestigious farm's legacy into the Belmont Stakes and is a close relative to Empire Maker, whose dam Toussaud, who also produced Grade 1-winners Chester House, Decarchy, Chiselling and Honest Lady - the dam of Tactius' maternal damsire First Defence.
CONFIRMED - Tax, a $50,000 claim, has paid huge dividends for trainer Danny Gargan and owners R A Hill Stable, Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, Hugh Lynch and Corms Racing Stable.
The dark bay Arch gelding was claimed out of a winning effort at Keeneland on October 21 then finished third in the Grade 2 Remsen in his first start for new connections.
Tax bested talented New York-bred Not That Brady in the Grade 3 Withers, a Kentucky Derby qualifier, and was a close second to fellow Belmont aspirant Tacitus, earning a spot in the starting gate for the Derby, where he finished 14th racing inside on sloppy going.
Tax comes from the same family as dual Grade 1 winning millionaire Elate and will look to give his late sire Arch his first triumph in an American classic.
CONFIRMED - The winner of the second jewel of the American Triple Crown could become the 19th horse to complete the Preakness-Belmont Double if he pulls off a victory in the Test of the Champion. The elite group of horses includes the likes of Man o' War, Native Dancer, Damascus, Risen Star and Point Given.
A troubled seventh after the disqualification of Maximum Security in the Kentucky Derby, War of Will successfully redeemed himself in the Grade 1 Preakness, capturing the second leg of the Triple Crown to give trainer Mark Casse his first win in a Classic. He kicked off his 3-year-old campaign with a pair of graded stakes wins at Fair Grounds in the Grade 3 Lecomte and Grade 2 Risen Star.
Use the links below to learn more about the third leg of the `Triple Crown of Horse Racing'
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