The post positions for this Saturday’s Belmont Stakes have been set and the early morning line odds at Belmont Park have been released. On the far outside of this 10-horse field, the best head-to-head matchup of the day will unfold with the top two favorites starting right next to one another.
This is the final jewel up for grabs in what has been a rather unpredictable Triple Crown racing season. A 65/1 longshot won the Kentucky Derby on an interference infraction and a horse without a jockey made a competitive run in the Preakness Stakes. Who knows what kind of drama might unfold this Saturday afternoon in the 2019 Belmont Stakes?
This is the longest and most grueling test of the three races at 1 ½ miles on the dirt at Belmont Park. Seven of the 10 entries have run in one of the first two Triple Crown races and two of the top trainers in the sport each offer a pair of betting options for Saturday’s main event on an excellent card of major graded events.
Betting the Top Contenders
The slight favorite to win at 9/5 odds on the morning line is trainer William Mott’s Tacitus. This three-year-old Kentucky-bred colt will break from the No. 10 post with veteran jockey Jose Ortiz getting the ride. Coming off a third-place finish in the Kentucky Derby, Mott decided to skip the Preakness to get him ready for the longer distance of this race. The added time off along with the added preparation for the Belmont Stakes makes him the horse to beat in this race.
The son of Tapit already proved he can win at a very high level by outpacing Tax and Haikal to win the Grade 2 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct on April 6. He also took first place in the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby on Match 9. He comes into this race with the highest Horse Racing Nation rating (8.51) in the 10-horse field.
Trainer Mark Casse’s War of Will has been opened as a 2/1 second-favorite breaking from the No. 9 post. He is the only three-year-old in the field that will have run in all three Triple Crown events. After taking seventh place in the Kentucky Derby, he went on to win the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course. Jockey Tyler Gaffalione will be leading the way in Saturday’s series finale.
This Kentucky-bred colt started his three-year-old campaign with victories in the Grade 3 Lecomte Stakes and the Grade 2 Risen Star at Fair Grounds to move high on the list of Kentucky Derby contenders. Much of that luster was lost with a disappointing fade to ninth in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby on March 23. His winning run at Pimlico was the return to form that everyone expected. Running all three Triple Crown races does drain some value from the sire of War Front.
As a side note, War of Will is going to try and become the first horse to win the final two legs of the Triple Crown since Afleet Alex accomplished that feat in 2005 after Giacomo won the Kentucky Derby that year.
One to Watch
Master Fencer is third on the list at 8/1 odds breaking from the No. 3 post with jockey Julien Leparoux getting the ride. He was sixth in the Kentucky Derby his last time out. You can get trainer Todd Pletcher’s Intrepid Heart at 10/1 with jockey John Velazquez breaking him from the No. 8 post. That being said, my ‘one to watch’ in this race is Everfast at longer 12/1 odds.
Trained by Dale Romans and ridden by Luis Saez, this pedigree of Take Charge Indy will break from the No. 2 post after taking second in the Preakness Stakes behind War of Will. His main claim to fame other than that run was second in the Grade 2 Holy Bull to kick off his three-year-old stakes season.