This year’s Belmont Stakes marks the 155th running of the event in Elmont, NY, just east of Queens on Long Island. Belmont Park has been the venue since 1905, and the Belmont Stakes is known for being the longest leg in the Triple Crown.
At 1.5 miles long, the track is two furlongs lengthier than the next closest race, the Kentucky Derby, and is considered the toughest test of the three, given the extra ground the runners need to cover. The Belmont Stakes is also the oldest race in the Triple Crown circuit, held annually since 1867 with exceptions in 1911-12.
In an ironic bit of history, that break was caused by anti-gambling laws passed in New York that did not exclude horse racing, according to a 2016 piece by the History Channel.
This year’s edition of the Belmont Stakes will not feature a horse vying for the Triple Crown, as the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes had unique champions. Still, the field is loaded with world-class horses, and we’re eager to preview the conclusion to the most-watched portion of the horse-racing season in this piece.
|Angel of Empire||4-1|
|Red Route One||20-1|
Mo Donegal ran as the favorite at Belmont Park in 2022 and captured a resounding victory by three lengths over a highly-touted group of competitors. The Derby winner, Rich Strike, was among those horses that included Nest, Skippylongstocking, and Creative Minister. 3
Mo Donegal was the latest Belmont winner to have run at the Kentucky Derby but skipped the Preakness in preparation for the race known as ‘The Test of Champions.’
Trainer Todd Pletcher claimed his fourth win in the Triple Crown finale and has done so with horses who took advantage of the five-week break between racing at Churchill Downs and heading to Long Island for the Belmont each time.
Forte has been one of the more talked about three-year-olds this season for several reasons. First, the colt has run in seven previous races and won six, including Grade I wins at Saratoga, Keeneland, and Gulfstream Park. The last time Forte raced was on April 1, when the horse claimed victory at the Florida Derby over eventual Kentucky Derby champion Mage.
Since then, Forte was a race-day scratch from the Kentucky Derby per veterinarian’s orders and had to miss the Preakness because of that decision at Churchill Downs and the mandatory waiting period following an injury declaration such as that.
With this unforeseen saga hopefully in the past, Forte is yet again a favorite to win a major stakes race at current odds of 3-1. The horse would become Pletcher’s fifth to win a Belmont Stakes and mark the first time he’s trained a winning horse in back-to-back years. Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr., who rode Preakness runner-up Blazing Sevens on May 20, will assume his position atop the horse that hasn’t lost since July 2022.
Pletcher looks to have two front-runners at Belmont yet again, with Tapit Trice being offered as the second-favorite at 7-2 odds. The talented three-year-old saw his odds rise to near the top of the field at Churchill Downs before finishing a disappointing seventh on May 6. Like many Pletcher horses before him, Tapit Trice did not race in Maryland for the second leg of this year’s Triple Crown.
Another Derby runner among the favorites is Brad Cox-trained Angel of Empire. The winner of the 2023 Arkansas Derby by 4.5 lengths, Angel of Empire finished third in the Run for the Roses with multiple Triple Crown race-winning jockey Flavien Prat and is just behind the top two at 4-1 to claim the win at Belmont Park.
The final horse we’ll cover in this section previewing the top horses is Preakness winner National Treasure. Bob Baffert’s top contender to win a Triple Crown race this year did so at Pimlico by the slimmest of margins and is 6-1 to claim two of the three jewels in horse racing’s coveted trio.
Arabian Lion and Arcangelo sit just behind the top four horses with 10-1 odds. Arabian Lion is the son of the most recent Triple Crown winner, Justify, who accomplished the feat in 2018. Like his father before him, Arabian Lion is trained by Baffert, who hinted at a Belmont run following the colt's impressive victory in the Sir Barton Stakes at Pimlico on May 20.
Arcangelo won a stakes race at Belmont Park on May 13 and enters the Belmont on a two-race winning streak. Jena Antonucci trains the colt.
Four additional Kentucky Derby runners join the rest of the pack of up to 16 total horses. Hit Show, another horse trained by Cox, finished fifth in the prized race and is 15-1 to capture a victory at the Belmont. The horse finished five lengths behind Angel of Empire after closing with 24-1 odds at post time.
The remaining three Derby veterans competing in New York have 30-1 odds, placing them at the back end of the field per the early odds. Raise Cain finished 8th behind Tapit Trice, Sun Thunder came home 11th, and Reincarnate crossed the line in 13th place after a substantial rise up the odds to around 15-1 at post time.
Sun Thunder’s trainer, Kenneth McPeek, won the 2002 Belmont Stakes with Sarava and had endured a prolonged drought in Triple Crown races until Swiss Skydiver won the 2020 Preakness and joined Rachel Alexandra (2009) as the only fillies to win at the Preakness since 1925.
Despite the previous success of his trainer, Sun Thunder’s victory on June 10 would be quite a surprise.
After thoroughly analyzing each horse and jockey, we've settled on the following best bets for the 2023 Belmont Stakes. Jump on these now, before the odds move! Good luck!
The horse will be literally chomping at the bit to justify his designation as the pre-race favorite at two of the three Triple Crown races this year despite only being able to compete in the finale.
Forte has faced top competition before and prevailed, and we expect him to be among the horses leading the group down the home stretch.
We mentioned that Arabian Lion impressed Baffert during his victory in Maryland a few weeks ago. He could surprise spectators again in his first Triple Crown action.
Arabian Lion is a horse whose odds could be shorter on race day, and we’ll lock in this pick now to prevent missing out on a bigger payday if Justify’s son does win at Belmont Park.