The final leg of this year’s Triple Crown racing series for the top three-year old thoroughbreds takes place this Saturday as part of Belmont Park’s major graded race card. The $1.5 million Belmont Stakes is the longest and most grueling test these to three-year old’s will face at 1 ½ miles around the dirt track.
This year’s racing series has been filled with drama from the very start. Country House won the Kentucky Derby as a 65/1 longshot after the favorite Maximum Security was bumped from first down to 17 th for an interference infraction early in the race. War of Will finished seventh in the Kentucky Derby after getting caught up in the early bumping incident. He went on to win the Preakness Stakes in a race that featured a competitive run by Bodexpress without a jockey on board.
Early in the week leading up to Saturday’s main event at Belmont Park, MyBookie online sportsbook has posted futures odds to win for 12 different entries.
2019 Belmont Stakes- Top Contenders
Trainer William Mott kept Tacitus out of the Preakness Stakes coming off his third-place run in the Kentucky Derby to specifically train for the added distance of the Belmont Stakes. The strategy appears to have worked with this three-year old Kentucky-bred colt a +160 favorite to win. He should also open as a 2/1 favorite on the morning line when those odds are posted later this week.
This would be a solid pick to win given his past track record along with the added rest and preparation for Saturday’s race. He already won the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby on March 9 and the Grade 2 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct in early April as two key Kentucky Derby preps. The sire of Tapit comes into this race with a Horse Racing Nation rating of 8.51 which is the highest in the projected field.
War of Will is expected to run in the Belmont Stakes as the only three-year old colt to compete in all three Triple Crown races. He has the second-best futures odds to win at +200 and he should open at 5/2 odds on the morning line. Trained by Mark Casse, this Kentucky-bred entry has already proven he can win at a very high level with victories in the Grade 3 Lecomte Stakes and the Grade 2 Risen Star early in the year at Fair Grounds. He fell off the radar ahead of Churchill by fading to ninth in the Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds on March 23.
This son of War Front has the ability to win two of the three jewels of this year’s Triple Crown, but the added burden of running all three races is enough to bump him down to a second or third-place finish this Saturday. His HRN rating coming into this race is a very respectable 7.94.
If the current projected field remains in place, seven of the 10 entries have already competed in a Triple Crown event. Horses that compete in the Kentucky Derby and skip the Preakness have traditionally fared better that ones that only ran the Preakness.
That being the case, I am still going with trainer Dale Romans’ Everfast as my ‘best of the rest’ pick to finish in the money after taking second place in last month’s Preakness. He has also caught the attention of early bettors at MyBookie by moving up the board to +800 odds to win.
His probable odds on the morning line should be 12/1 as a value play. His only career win was in a Maiden Special Weight race in his two-year old racing debut, but this pedigree of Take Charge Indy proved he belongs in the discussion with his recent performance in the Preakness.