National Treasure, coming off a victory in the Preakness Stakes on May 20, will try to add another leg of the Triple Crown to his résumé with a win in the 155th Belmont Stakes on Saturday.
The Kentucky Derby winner, Mage, will not stand in his way; he is skipping the Belmont after finishing third in the Preakness. But Forte, the Derby favorite who was scratched the morning of the race with a foot bruise, is back and considered a strong contender.
The Belmont horses are listed in order of post position, with comments by Joe Drape and Melissa Hoppert of The New York Times. The morning-line odds were set by David Aragona of the New York Racing Association.
Purse: $1.5 million guaranteed Distance: 1½ miles
Track record: 2:24 (Secretariat, 1973)
Weight: 126 pounds
Post time: 7:02 p.m. Eastern on Saturday
How to watch: Coverage begins on Fox at 3 p.m. Eastern.
Joe Drape’s win-place-show picks: Arcangelo, Tapit Shoes, Angel of Empire
Melissa Hoppert’s picks: Tapit Trice, Forte, Arcangelo
Here’s how we see the field:
1. Tapit Shoes
Trainer: Brad Cox Jockey: Jose Ortiz Odds: 20-1
Drape: This long shot may control the speed from the rail. He’s bred for this marathon and rounding into form. Dangerous runner.
Hoppert: His sire, Tapit, has produced four Belmont winners. But this colt, who has won once in five starts, will not add to that haul.
2. Tapit Trice
Trainer: Todd Pletcher Jockey: Luis Saez Odds: 3-1
Drape: This race demands a high cruising speed. This colt is a closer who has trouble out of the gate. Short odds, no thanks.
Hoppert: This talented gray son of Tapit got stuck in traffic in the Derby and finished seventh. He has been training well since, and with more room to run, look for his closing kick to be on full display. My pick.
Trainer: Jena Antonucci Jockey: Javier Castellano Odds: 8-1
Drape: This gray colt has a win on the racetrack. He is not chewed up by the Triple Crown grind. My pick.
Hoppert: He’s rapidly improving and has already won on this track. Plus, his pedigree suggests he can go a mile and a half.
4. National Treasure
Trainer: Bob Baffert Jockey: John Velazquez Odds: 5-1
Drape: Nice Preakness win for this colt. This time around, however, he will be pushed early by a couple of others and will not get an easy lead.
Hoppert: He held on to win a slow Preakness by a nose, but the added distance will give him trouble.
5. Il Miracolo
Trainer: Antonio Sano Jockey: Marcos Meneses Odds: 30-1
Drape: He had two strong workouts at his home base Gulfstream Park in Florida. He wants the lead, but I do not think he can outrun his odds.
Hoppert: He went gate-to-wire in a one-mile optional claiming race at Gulfstream last time out, but he was no better than fifth in his Derby preps. Pass.
Trainer: Todd Pletcher Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr. Odds: 5-2
Drape: He has not raced in two months. Before the Derby scratch, he was the “wow” horse. In the Belmont, he will be the “not now” horse.
Hoppert: He won five straight to earn Derby favorite honors before being scratched the morning of the race with a hoof injury. He’s still the best of the bunch, but can he win this grueling of a race after such a long layoff?
7. Hit Show
Trainer: Brad Cox Jockey: Manny Franco Odds: 10-1
Drape: Honest colt who has competed at four different tracks. If he likes Belmont, he has a shot.
Hoppert: He’s a hard-trying colt who ran better than his fifth-place Derby finish suggests. But he would need a career-best performance to pull off an upset here.
8. Angel of Empire
Trainer: Brad Cox Jockey: Flavien Prat Odds: 7-2
Drape: He closed well in the Derby and fits with the Frenchman Prat. If he still has gas in the tank, he is a contender.
Hoppert: The third-place Derby finisher will add blinkers in the Belmont, a marathon in which he should thrive as long as Prat keeps him close to the leaders.
9. Red Route One
Trainer: Steve Asmussen Jockey: Joel Rosario Odds: 15-1
Drape: A closer with only two wins in 10 tries? No thanks.
Hoppert: A fourth-place finish in the plodding Preakness does little to inspire confidence.