Looking at this Belmont Stakes field it is not hard to find the top two runners.
One is Tacitus, who I liked in the Kentucky Derby, the other being War of Will, the Preakness winner who just may have been in the money in the Kentucky Derby if it weren’t for the trouble he had.
After these two, the separation will be evident in the wagering, although that’s not to say there can’t or won’t be a long shot who can pop up and win this, as nine of the last 13 horses who have won the Belmont have gone off at 6-1 or higher.
Tacitus, who is trained by Bill Mott for Juddmonte Farms, checks all the boxes for me. He ran a bangup race in the Kentucky Derby, despite not having the best of trips, and he skipped the Preakness. His race in the Wood Memorial will beat all of these and he is stabled at Belmont. Mott will have him ready for his best effort and he is the colt to beat.
My price play of the race — and possible upset runner — will be Intrepid Heart, who is trained by Todd Pletcher, This will be his fourth lifetime start, and fourth this year. His numbers have been on a steady upward move and his stalking and cruising speed will play perfectly in this race.
They must have really loved him early on as they shelled out $750,000 for him as a 2-year-old. John Velazquez has been on him in all three starts, but he has also been on Pletcher’s other runner in here, Spinoff. But Johnny V decided to ride Intrepid Heart and Javier Castellano, Pletecher’s other go-to rider, will be aboard Spinoff.
For wagering purposes, we will only use three runners, keying Tacitus on top with Intrepid Heart and War of Will second and third and make one play with Intrepid Heart on top with Tacitus second and War of Will in the third spot.
Festival Pick Six
There is a new bet this year for the Belmont Stakes. It’s a 20-cent pick six which begins on Friday with two races, the True North and the Belmont Gold Cup and finishes off on Saturday with the Woody Stevens, the Met Mile, the Manhattan and the last leg, the Belmont Stakes.
This bet, called the Belmont Stakes Festival Pick Six, enables the smaller bettor to be able to go much deeper in the pick six thus having a much better shot at cashing. And with the wager ending with the Belmont Stakes, it is even more enticing of a play.
As we take a quick glance before the Saturday draw, we will look to start our ticket like this. Note that we will do an updated ticket Thursday on our website, gamingtoday.com, once all the post positions for all the races Saturday have been drawn:
True North (Friday, Race 8, 6 1/2 furlongs, dirt): Catalina Cruiser (No. 3) comes off the layoff for John Sadler, who in the past has not done well when shipping out of California. This guy busted out at odds on last year in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, but he has been working like he is ready and he draws the services of Joel Rosario. Whitmore (No. 7), finished second by a neck in this race last year and his last work looks to have him ready for another big effort. Trainer Jason Servis sends out the speedy Mr. Dougie Fresh (No. 10).
Belmont Gold Cup (Friday, Race 10, 2 miles, turf): The key punch in the Belmont Gold Cup will be on the Brad Cox-trained Arklow (No. 6) who just missed in the 1 3/8 Man O’ War here on May 11 by a neck. Off of that race he should be able to get this two-mile distance, Flavien Prat is in town and will ride the import, Amade (No. 3), who is proven at this distance on this surface. He also gets first-time Lasix. He could be the price play. Trainer Bill Mott sends out Red Knight (No. 4) with Jose Ortiz riding, this 5-year-old gelding won at this distance the one time he was sent this far.
Woody Stephens (Saturday, Race 8, 7 furlongs, dirt): In this race we do know that Mind Control loves one turn races and looks the one to beat. We will be adding on once we get the post positions.
Metropolitan (Saturday, Race 9, 1 mile, dirt): Bob Baffert sends out his big guy, McKinzie who will be the chalk. As a price play we will be using will be Firenze Fire who is a horse-for-course play.
Manhattan (Saturday, Race 10, 1 1/4 miles, turf): Bricks and Mortar will be the one to beat, but we will be adding a few.
Belmont Stakes (Saturday, Race 11, 1 1/2 miles, dirt): On a deep ticket we will use Tacitus as a single and go deep in the other races. On a second ticket we will go deep in the Belmont as we look for a price, using Bourbon War, Intrepid Heart and Sir Winston.
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