The 2019 Belmont Stakes drew a field of 10 for the 151st running of the biggest race at Belmont Park. The $1.5 million prize pool pays $800,000 to first place. We had the Preakness Stakes winner War of Will in our Best Bets, and War of Will (2-1) is one of the two prohibitive favorites in the Belmont Stakes along with Tacitcus (9/5).
|Post Position||Horse||Opening Odds||Current Odds||Last Race|
|1||Joevia||30/1||30/1||1st Long Branch Stakes|
|2||Everfast||12/1||12/1||2nd Preakness Stakes (G1)|
|3||Master Fencer||8/1||8/1||6th Kentucky Derby (G1)|
|4||Tax||15/1||15/1||14th Kentucky Derby (G1)|
|5||Bourbon War||12/1||12/1||9th Preakness Stakes (G1)|
|6||Spinoff||15/1||15/1||19th Kentucky Derby (G1)|
|7||Sir Winston||12/1||12/1||2nd Peter Pan (G3)|
|8||Intrepid Heart||10/1||10/1||3rd Peter Pan (G3)|
|9||War of Will||2/1||2/1||1st Preakness Stakes (G1)|
|10||Tacitus||9/5||9/5||3rd Kentucky Derby (G1)|
A key indicator when handicapping the Belmont is to account for pace and see how a horse’s energy is distributed. Using BRIS speed and pace figures, Belmont winners usually save speed and energy and get stronger as the race develops. Those not bred as well for the grueling 1.5 mile distance of the Belmont may use up too much energy early.
As has happened so often in the past, horses that finished in the money in the Kentucky Derby or finished in the top half of the field but experienced significant trouble, skipped the Preakness and then came into the Belmont Stakes loaded for bear are solid win contenders. That makes Tacitus (3rd in the Kentucky Derby) a strong and worthy contender, just as his sire’s son, Tapwrit was when winning the 2017 Belmont. Spinoff is another Derby runner returning for the Belmont Stakes.
Here are five best bets to consider for your exotic and vertical bets along with win wagers.
1. Tacitus (9-5) To Win
The Belmont favorite is worthy of attention. Tacitus is one of the few horses in the race that you can count on with confidence to handle and negotiate the 1.5 mile distance with strong breeding elevated on the stamina side. His trainer, Bill Mott, has said that Tacitus was best suited for the Belmont Stakes, and his career debut at Belmont was no coincidence. He came running late for 3rd in the Kentucky Derby after getting shuffled back and some kick back from the sloppy track, and then a little trouble finding room near the far turn. Tacitus is a big strong colt that has been working sharply for trainer Bill Mott and seems poised for a strong effort with top jock Jose Ortiz aboard. Victories in the Wood Memorial and Tampa Bay Derby and now fresh after the Kentucky Derby make Tacitus the one to beat and a strong Belmont win contender. Little value, but still an inclusion in all exotics as well.
2. Intrepid Heart (10-1) To Win
A late developer making just his 4th lifetime start, all in 2019. A value runner for top trainer Todd Pletcher, who has had 35 starters in the Belmont Stakes and won it three times (Tapwrit, 2017; Palace Malice, 2013; Rags to Riches, 2007) with seven runner-up finishes and four 3rd place finishes. Stout distance breeding and continued improvement in form cycle makes Intrepid Heart one to consider at a price. He adds blinkers for the Belmont following a 3rd place finish in the 1 1/8 mile Peter Pan after stumbling badly at start and spotting others three lengths. Intrepid Hear is another Tapit colt, and they have won three of the last five Belmont Stakes. Pletcher’s go to jockey John Velazquez aboard in the Belmont Stakes for the 23rd time – winning it with the filly Rags to Riches (2007) and Union Rags (2012).
3. Spinoff (15-1) To Win
His connections are solid with trainer Todd Pletcher and top East coast circuit rider Javier Castellano. You could throw out his Kentucky Derby performance as a result of post draw and distaste for the slop. Instead, look at his second-place finish in the Louisiana Derby in March as a better proxy for this colt’s potential. He hit the board despite going four-wide on the first turn and four-wide again on the far turn, earning a career-best 102 Brisnet speed figure in the process. Spinoff will be a presser in the Belmont. His development was delayed due to injury but he may finally be coming around to the high expectations connections have had for this colt all along. Pressers perform quite well in this race and the pace will be reasonable. His breeding screams distance, and this is a long shot that can bring a bigger payout in exotics.
4. $1 Exacta
No. 10 Tacitus on top of No. 6 Spinoff, No. 7 Sir Winston and No. 8 Intrepid Heart ($6). $1 Exacta No. 10, No. 6, No. 8 with No. 10, No. 6, No. 8, No. 7 ($9)
5. $1 Trifecta
No. 10 Tacitus and No. 8 Intrepid Heart with No. 10, No. 8, No. 7, No. 6 with No. 10, No. 8, No. 7, No. 6, No. 9 ($18)