This is the much-anticipated highlight event of the historic Saratoga season. We are fortunate to find seven of the best three-year olds compete in a grueling 1 ¼ mile race under the summer sun.
It’s a Triple Crown winner match race between Kentucky Derby winner, 4-MAGE, verses Preakness winner, 5-NATIONAL TREASURE, verses Belmont winner, 2-ARCANGELO, verses arguably the best horse in the world, 1-FORTE, winner of seven races in nine starts. Add a $1.3 Million yearling purchase in 3-TAPIT TRICE, verses $750K purse winner, 6-DISARM; and outsider, 7-SCOTLAND who has won three races in four starts under champion trainer Bill Mott, and we have a spectacular race for the ages.
Here's a brilliant handicapping tip… ANY OF THESE HORSES CAN WIN THIS RACE.
That’s an important conclusion when betting on this race because while the payout on any given horse will be decent, as no one horse will gobble all the betting dollars, no one payout will be extraordinary because the race is so evenly matched.
HOW THE RACE WILL BE RUN:
No doubt, the Bob Baffert trained horse, 4-NATIONAL TREASURE will run to the early lead. Without much other speed in the race, this horse may try to run wire to wire, as he did in the Preakness. But this race is too long and the competition too tough for that to happen… so it won’t.
Look for the next group of horses to track 4-NATIONAL TREASURE, including 1-FORTE and 2-ARCANGELO. Both are very capable of rating till the final turn, then motoring to victory. The remainder of the field will sit behind the others.
On paper, 1-FORTE should win based on current form. I suspect 2-ARCANGELO will step back from what he showed in the Belmont. 4-MAGE ran the race of his life in the Derby due to perfect conditions and a great ride by JJ Castellano (now riding 2-ARCANGELO) and will not win here. 5-NATIONAL TREASURE will fade, although not off the board thato very competitive. 7-SCOTLAND may be good but is really untested and has no shown great speed to be considered here for the top spot.
I’m going with longshot 3-TAPIT TRICE. Why? Well, honestly, here’s why not… His form has been off of late and he was crushed by many of those in this field. I usually avoid selecting horses based upon those factors. However, here’s why… Maybe it’s because I picked him to win twice before and TRICE TIME’S THE CHARM. Get it? Seriously though, I have always viewed this $1.3 Million, Tapit-sired colt to be the strongest horse in many of the Grade-1 stake races. He is big and strong, like a freight train rolling downhill. Without agility to swerve around a big field, he needs a smaller field as he has here. The change of jockey to Jose Ortiz and trained by Todd Pletcher gives me a hunch that this longshot will pull ahead to victory down the stretch... finally.
WINNER: 3-TAPIT TRICE
LONGSHOT: 3-TAPIT TRICE
EXACTA: 3/ALL – 3/1
TRIFECTA: Box 3/1/5
SUPERFETA: KEY 3 with 1/5/ALL
LEFTY LOUIE: 7-SCOTLAND
This promises to be a great race as it has drawn a strong field including the winners of each of the Triple Crown races. I am certain that those winners will be the leading favorites. I am not picking any of them to win. I am going with the horse I watched win the Curlin Stakes last month, Scotland.
Scotland has won 3 of his 4 races. He has improved each race with Junior Alvarado aboard and outstanding speed figures. Bill Mott has this horse ready to win. At 12-1, Scotland is a very good value.
Arcangelo will outrun Forte as he did in the Belmont to finish a close second. Forte will be third.
Bucket list Handicapping: 2 - ARCANGELO
This race pits the triple crown race winners against each other with Horse of the Year implications. Looking forward to a tight, competitive race that goes down to the wire.
We bet ARCANGELO in the Belmont and are sticking with him in the Travers Stakes. This horse is two for two in stakes races and is continuing to improve. FORTE is breaking from the inside post and coming off a win last out at Saratoga. MAGE is always a contender, and we have him in the money.
2 – 1 – 4
DANNY DIMES: 4-MAGE
Everyone knows I love 4-MAGE. So obvious that his Haskell run was a prep for the Travers. I predicted in my pre-Derby column that Mage would be a major player later in the summer. And here we are. When is the last time you saw a Kentucky Derby winner in close to top form going off at 4-1 at Saratoga? Well, never. I am personally hoping Forte goes to even money and Mage goes to 6-1.
I am taking a contrarian view on Archangelo that the Belmont ended up being a really slow speed figure race. I might be proven wrong and so be it.
The other horse I like here is SCOTLAND. Also by Good Magic like Mage so we might be seeing a trend of late bloomers from this Sire.
My thoughts on Forte. Love the horse, but hate the price. Gotta prove it to me versus the best of the best. If he does, then we know the gap on wins was a hiccup versus reaching a ceiling.
On Tapit Trice. Jeff Nash might be right with his pick because I have no idea why he is entered here. I was never a buyer on him and again, gotta prove it to me.
On the jockey change to Saez on Mage: I'm getting the #2 winning rider at Saratoga. Not exactly a downgrade. Not trying to be overconfident, but I think Mage is the easiest price money I can possibly think of this summer. We will see! Good luck!
JERSEY JOE: 7-SCOTLAND
The Travers will be extra special this year with the presence of all three Triple Crown winners and Forte who never got his chance. When this has happened in the past, a new shooter has prevailed and this year the morning line suggests that it will be the favorite Forte. I'm betting that the story will be the same but taking a shot with the 12-1 SCOTLAND. He is trained by Bill Mott (who is 0 for 11 in the Travers) is steadily improving, working great, won his last over the track and may be able to wire the field. Among the Triple Crown winners my favorite is ARCANGELO whose jockey stays with him over Mage and has been working great. The only knock is an 11 week layoff.Bottom line, Forte will be the very well deserved favorite but at 7-5 I'll be looking elsewhere.
JULY 22, 2023
New Jersey’s premier race to be run on a perfect New Jersey day. Weather is expected to be spectacular, or what I like to call… a great racetrack day!
This is the first race to be handicapped on this site since The Belmont. Shout out to celeb handicapper Leftie Louie who nailed the longshot winner, exacta, trifecta, and yes, the superfecta. See analysis of The Belmont below and you will see his superb prognostication. Leftie is back at it here, so take notice.
This year’s Haskell is a fine field of eight. Some terrific and noticeably expensive horses are entered, including Kentucky Derby winner, 4-MAGE and the most expensive horse in recent memory, 8-ARABIAN KNIGHT; a lightly raced up-n-comer trained by Bob Baffert.
Let’s review the field:
1-GEAUX ROCKET RIDE: A lightly raced, California-based, three-year-old colt sold as a yearling for $350K, with excellent pedigree perfectly suited for the 1 1/8-mile distance. Likes to run up front but appears to be comfortable running just off the lead. Won two of three starts, with a second-place finish in his lone stakes race, the Grade-2 San Felipe in which he showed great talent. Trainer Mandella wins 24% of his races and his horses find themselves in the money in 51% of stake races tried. Add Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith taking the redeye with him from the west coast, and you have a competitive horse capable of challenging. A live longshot, for sure.
2-AWESOME STRONG: This colt showed promise as a two-year-old winning his first four starts at Gulfstream, although no graded stakes try. A presumptive injury kept the horse from running earlier this year, finding his first return race at Delaware Park where he finished a very disappointing fifth. Moving from that race to the Haskell is an enormous leap… and leap of faith for his owner.
3-SALUTE THE STARS: This Brad Cox-trained entry boasts terrific pedigree designed for a 1 1/8-mile run. The colt has run four times, winning three including a non-graded stakes race last time out at the very same Monmouth racetrack. Hall of Fame jockey Joel Rosario gets the mount, as he had in that last race, so he knows this horse on this track, always a significant factor. Another runner who likes to stay close early on would not be surprised if he was competitive throughout. Here's a handicapper question: If you knew that a Brad Cox-trained horse, ridden by Joel Rosario, sired by Candy Ride, who happened to have won three out of four races with the last being run and won on this very track, and the odds were 8-1, would you bet him? The answer is a clear YES! Thus, a very live longshot.
4-MAGE: He won the Kentucky Derby a mere two months ago. Need I say more? Did not run his best race in The Preakness after the Derby, then took a break for a bit. This colt has been training steadily and well since that time and appears to be sharp and ready to give his best effort. As we found in the Derby, MAGE is most comfortable sitting behind the leaders. He will benefit from a fast pace, as he did in the Derby. That may happen here, so expect MAGE to be charging down the Monmouth stretch here too.
5-TAPIT TRICE: This colt was my pick to win The Belmont. He was right there as the field headed for home. But he did not have that final gear to beat out winner Archangelo, finishing a competitive third. While he didn’t claim victory on that day, his speed rating was still off the roof. He just got beat by a super-fast horse that day. Since then, TAPIT TRICE has taken a break from the races, training regularly at Belmont, perhaps relieving the race he should have won. Well, as they say, first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Trained by the great Todd Pletcher and saddled by one of the best jockeys in Luis Saez. Sired by champion Tapit, this colt sold as a yearling for $1.3 Million. A magnificent specimen of a horse who likes to sit off the lead, like 4-MAGE. Expect him to be running like a freight train down the stretch.
6-HOWGREATISNATE: Nate is good, not great. Credit trainer Liz Dobles for properly placing this colt in mostly non-graded stakes in his eight-race career, where he won five races, earning purses in excess of $250K. Well done. However, this is an huge step up in class for a horse that has not demonstrated Grade-1 ability. He will be with the early leaders. For him to find his way past the others would require a step up in form.
7-EXTRA ANEJO: Another lightly raced three-year old who has never run in a stakes race. In two of the three races, he won by nine and six lengths respectively. He is sired by the world’s top sire, Into Mischief which partly explains his $1.350,000 yearling sales price. He is also trained by the great Steve Asmussen, so cannot be counted out for that reason alone. The colt likes to run in front but can rate off the lead if need be. The biggest question mark given the colt’s inexperience is we really don’t know how good he can be. Tough to bet this horse to win, although certainly consider for the Exoctics… in case he happens to be really good.
8-ARABIAN KNIGHT: The infamous trainer Bob Baffert brings this extraordinary racehorse to the Haskell having run only twice; a Maiden victory followed by an impressive win in the Grade-3 Southwest Stakes. The colt was sold as a two-year-old for $2,300,000, purchased by big-buck owners, the Zedan family. It’s almost unfair. Add Hall of Fame jockey John Velasquez who leaves his home base of New York just to ride this colt in his travels to Kentucky and Arkansas. The horse could be that good and, if he is, watch out Haskell bettors. So, what can go wrong? Inexperience for one. Travel lag for a second. ARABIAN KNIGHT worked out in California last Sunday and now finds himself across the country, having never trained at Monmouth. Nitpicking, perhaps. Regardless, expect this spectacular athlete to run right to the lead and try to hold on.
HOW THE RACE WILL BE RUN:
Expect 8-ARABIAN KNIGHT to dash to the lead. He will be followed by 1-GEAUX ROCKET RIDE, 2-AWESOME STRONG, 6-HOWGREATISNATE, and 7-EXTRA ANEJO. It would not shock me if one of those horses tried to go toe-to-toe with 8-ARABIAN KNIGHT, knowing that they may never catch him if he runs to the lead unchallenged.
The beginning of the race is critical here. If no one attacks 8-ARABIAN KNIGHT early on, a wire-to-wire victory is not out of the question. For that reason, I suspect that one or more of the frontrunners will step up. 7-EXTRA ANEJO is the most talented of those who may try.
Down the backstretch, we find 3-SALUTE THE STARS strategically saving ground behind the pack of leaders, followed by stretch runners, 4-MAGE and 5-TAPIT TRICE.
Down the stretch, 8-ARABIAN KNIGHT runs clear or tries to retract on coming 3-SALUTE THE STARS, 4-MAGE, and 5-TAPIT TRICE.
I am betting on 5-TAPIT TRICE to pass them all and win the 2023 Haskell.
WIN: 5-TAPIT TRICE
LONGSHOT: 3-SALUTE THE STARS
EXACTA BOX: 5/8/3
KEY – 5 WITH 8/3/4
BOX – 5/8/3
KEY: 5 WITH 8/3/ALL
LEFTIE LOUIE: 5-TAPIT TRICE
For many reasons, I am trying so hard to not like Arabian Knight. Unfortunately, this colt cannot be ignored. Baffert has him ready to go with an eye on winning this race and the Travers.
Tapit Trice is in top form, as well, and cannot be ignored. His speed figures confirm that he is a contender.
Either horse will win this race. I am going to pick Tapit Trice to win because I am making the mistake of letting my emotions impact my pick. But, at 3-1, not much to be made on a win bet.
I hope to get in the money with a trifecta bet of Tapit Trice - Arabian Knight- the rest of the field with the hope of a long shot finishing third.
So proud to have this race in NJ!
Good luck to all.
DANNY DIMES: 7-EXTRA ANEJO
While I am a big fan of Mage, I'm not sure if I like the decision to enter him in the Haskell. He has developed into a big closer and the field size and expected speed is not exactly the best fit. He will still be in my bets, but I am waiting to see a bigger price when he (probably) runs in the Travers. Betting against Baffert here is always a big risk, but I hate the price. My top pick is 7 - EXTRA ANEJO. While this horse's 2023 race experience does match the recent historical model, the breeding (Into Mischief) has produced two of the last three Haskell winners. I really like the trend-line and think he can adapt to any kind of race scenario. Hoping bettors forget about him and we see the price go a little higher.
DEL MAR OPENING DAY
One of my favorite days of the year and was in a winning group a few years ago in Race 1, which was an awesome experience. I am going with a huge upset in today's Oceanside Stakes with the French horse 4 - EL ORO at 30-1. French horses always run well at Del Mar because of the dew from the ocean settling on the turf course. With a 5:30pm Pacific post, I would not be surprised to see a marine layer to provide just that.
The other track I will be watching closely throughout the weekend is Woodbine, and I like TIBURON in the Plate Trial on Sunday. Huge fields with lots of opportunities to score nice prices.
JUNE 10, 2023
JEFF NASH WILL HANDICAP THE BELMONT STAKES
SATURDAY, JUNE 10TH AT 10:30 AM
97.3 ESPN RADIO - THE LOCKER ROOM WITH BILLY SCHWEIM
Horse racing handicapping is a game of variables. One missed variable, a misstep from the gate, a check down the backstretch can alter a race. That’s what makes handicapping so hard, if not impossible.
But occasionally, it all plays out as predicted. That’s what happened for me in the Preakness. I had the winner, NATIONAL TREASURE, hit the Exacta, keying the winner with ALL. Nailed the Trifecta and picked the four horses in the Superfecta.
Hope you played my picks.
Now, onto the third leg of the Triple Crown series, The Belmont Stakes.
Growing up in New York City, with my dad dragging my sister and me to Aqueduct and Belmont almost every visitation day, the biggest race of the year was always The Belmont Stakes. It meant more than the Kentucky Derby because this was New York’s race. It was a grueling test of endurance, 1 ½ miles within five weeks of the Derby and Preakness. To win this race under adverse conditions, this battle, the racehorse needed to be, well, New York tough.
In all the years I’ve watched The Belmont, I have never been disappointed. I’ve admired every winner, their rider, their trainer. They always made New York proud. When Secretariat drove home a 32-length victory in 1973, that was amazing. When Affirmed outdueled Alydar in 1978, that was exhilarating. When American Pharoah won the first Triple Crown in 37 years in 2015, that was spectacular. Quite simply, it’s the best horserace on the planet.
So, what can we expect from the great race in 2023? Well, to start, this race boasts a terrific field of nine entrants. Five of the horses are arguably the best three-year-old thoroughbreds in the world. Unfortunately, Kentucky Derby winner Mage is passing on the race. But Derby favorite FORTE is reportedly healthy and ready to run after missing the Derby and Preakness due to a hoof injury. And Preakness winner NATIONAL TREASURE is back seeking a second Triple Crown race victory.
Let’s look at the field of nine:
1-TAPIT SHOES: There are two Tapit-sired horses in the field. They happen to be post positions 1 and 2 in this race. This chestnut colt was a $300K yearling purchase by the infamous Spendthrift Farm. I raise the Tapit pedigree fact because Tapit progeny are famous for winning this race. In fact, four prior Belmont winners were sired by Tapit. Perhaps that is because Tapit-sired foals love the long-distance races. And this race at a 1 ½ mile distance is the longest of them all. The mare’s side is also bred for distance, so no tiring here. The concern about this horse, however, is not his breeding, it is his race history. TAPIT SHOES has run only five times in his career, winning only one, his maiden race. While that is a significant factor, each race reflects a steady improvement in ability and form. Still, in his lone stakes race, where the competition was modest at best, TAPIT SHOES lost by a head to 9-RED ROUTE ONE, a longshot here. In that race, the winner passed TAPIT SHOES down the stretch as if he were standing still. Bottom line is that this colt will need to improve in form to be competitive against this talented group of runners. Still, any Tapit-sired horse that happens to be improving with every race and trained by one of the best trainers in Brad Cox, must be considered, especially at longshot prices.
2-TAPIT TRICE: Here’s a pop quiz. What do you get when you mix a horse sired by four-time Belmont sire champion with a horse trained by four-time Belmont winner Todd Pletcher? The answer is… the winner of The Belmont Stakes. That is exactly what we find in 2-TAPIT TRICE. Make that five times for both Tapit and Pletcher. This enormous gray colt was purchased at the 2021 Keenland yearling sale for $1.3 Million. Yes, the sale price is correct. I can’t even imagine how magnificent the yearling looked at the sale, because he looks like a big, beautiful, muscular machine at three. Add Todd Pletcher as the trainer and champion jockey Luis Saez, and you have the perfect connections to run a big race in the biggest race of them all. In his two races prior to the Kentucky Derby, TAPIT TRICE won both, including the Grade-1 Blue Grass Stakes, where he defeated Preakness runner-up Blazing Sevens by a hefty six lengths. Then the flub in the Derby. Why did that happen? It was the wrong race for a horse that wins because of his enormously long strides. The Derby requires finesse, the ability to weave in and out of trouble. When TAPIT TRICE broke last in the Derby, 18th of 18 runners, he did not have the natural agility to carve his way through the field. For a horse that appears to be a freight train flying down the stretch, the colt never got going. Thus, I toss the Derby in my analysis of the horse. Since the Derby, TAPIT TRICE skipped the Preakness and has been training well at Belmont. He is ready to roll. Start building the freight train tracks down the Belmont stretch.
3-ARCANGELO: We move from a $1.3 Million Keenland yearling purchase in 2-TAPIT TRICE to this horse who was purchased at the same sale for $35K. And they both end up in the 12th race at Belmont on Saturday. Such is horseracing! This gray colt has only run four times and lacks big race experience. However, his last two races, both victories, were enormously impressive. In fact, the final quarter time in ARCANGELO’s last race, the Grade-3 Peter Pan, which happened to have been run at Belmont Racetrack, was timed to be the fastest of any quarter by any horse in the race. It was spectacular. However, different race, and circumstances here. The Peter Pan had a very slow pace giving ARCANGELO the ability to stay within striking distance until taking the lead at the top of the wide-sweeping Belmont stretch. He then showed resiliency by winning a battle against a good horse, Bishops Bay. Given that Kentucky Derby winning jockey and NY racing champion JJ Castellano is onboard, this horse a live longshot to steal it all, certainly a play in the Exotics.
4-NATIONAL TREASURE: Wire-to-wire winner of the Preakness who benefitted from a very slow pace and average field of horses in competition. Still, give this $500K yearling purchase trained by Bob Baffert his due. He read the field, executed the plan, and won the race. There are two questions to ask while considering the possibility of a repeat performance: First, will the pace be so slow again to allow NATIONAL TREASURE to run to the lead at the onset and hold on until the finish? Second, is the competition in The Belmont significantly better than the Preakness to prevent a runaway victory? The answer to the former is yes, but not as slow. The answer to the latter is absolutely. Listen, nothing Bob Baffert accomplishes on track should really surprise me. For that reason alone, the horse must be considered a top tier choice. I predict jockey Velasquez will run The Belmont the same as he did in the Preakness; catch me if you can. The difference here will be that the others will do just that. How far NATIONAL TREASURE falls behind is a function of the other horses charging past him down the stretch.
5-IL MIRACOLO: Here is the longest shot on the board. If you like to place a $2 wager on a horse that will pay big if he hits, this is your horse. On paper, he has no chance. Oh, he tried to run against the top tier horses. He did so in the Grade-1 Florida Derby where he finished a poor sixth, thirteen lengths behind Forte. He tried in the Grade-2 Fountain of Young, the Grade-3 Holy Bull. In all these races he lost by double digit lengths. Add to that record, this colt’s failure to gain an impressive speed rating in any one of his ten prior starts, suggests that he won’t have one here. But there are always some positives. His breeding is exceptional. Sired by champion Gun Runner with a broodmare sire of Tapit, this horse should be able to handle the distance. So, IL MIRACOLO may not embarrass himself, but is an unlikely winner given his prior history.
6-FORTE: Here was my pick to win The Kentucky Derby before his scratch in that race due to a hoof injury. Trainer Todd Pletcher kept the horse from the Preakness as well, with an eye toward The Belmont. Why not, owner Mike Repole was born and raised in Queens, down the street from the NY tracks. From all reports, FORTE’S hoof has healed and his training at Belmont seems to support that conclusion. FORTE had an impressive bullet workout on June 3rd. Arguably the best three-year-old in the world, having won six of seven lifetime starts, including four Grade-1 stake races. No other horse comes close in terms of prior success. So, what can go wrong here? In my view the answer is… 70 days. FORTE has not run a race since the April 1st Florida Derby. While training well, it is a lot to ask of a horse, including a champion horse, to bounce back from a hoof injury and compete in a 1 ½ mile race against the best competition in the world. Now, having said that, FORTE may do just that. That’s what champions do.
7-HIT SHOW: Another live longshot worthy of consideration. Any horse trained by Brad Cox in a big race is worthy of consideration, especially this gray colt, bred and owned by racing royalty, Gary and Mary West. HIT SHOW has not done anything spectacular in his six-race career. But he always seems to be in the mix. He finished a competitive fifth in the Kentucky Derby, missed by a nose in the Grade-2 Wood Memorial, and won the Grade-3 Withers. Not much more needed to prove ability than recounting these last three races. HIT SHOW has the pedigree to handle the long race distance. While some others seem to have an advantage in terms of speed and ability, this horse will be competitive, as always.
8-ANGEL OF EMPIRE: The third of three horses in the race trained by Brad Cox. This swift energizer is the best of the Cox-trained bunch. ANGEL OF EMPIRE was the Kentucky Derby favorite and ran accordingly. His strategy in the Derby was no different than every other race he has run in his seven-race career. He sits behind the pack, then scoots through the field and wins the race down the stretch. He almost pulled that off in the Kentucky Derby, finishing third to Mage by less than two lengths. The result of winning four of seven starts is purse proceeds of more than $1.3 Million. Not a bad return for the owners on a $70K yearling purchase. Very interesting to note that trainer Brad Cox is adding blinkers on the horse for the first time in his career. This suggests that the trainer intends to keep this horse focused and not fall too far behind early on. This colt is always in the mix at the end, and there is no reason to believe that he won’t be there on Saturday.
9-RED ROUTE ONE: Any racehorse trained by champion Steve Asmussen and ridden by Hall of Fame jockey Joel Rosario must be considered. The problem with RED ROUTE ONE is that his body of work, ten races, has proven that this colt is just a cut below the best three-year-olds. That was highlighted in the Preakness where he finished a distant fourth to 4-NATIONAL TREAURE. He also finished sixth to 8-ANGEL OF EMPIRE in the Grade-1 Arkansas Derby. On the positive side, in addition to his connections and favorable pedigree (sired by Gun Runner with broodmare sire Tapit on the mom’s side), this horse loves to run strong down the stretch. That may place RED ROUTE ONE as a longshot Exotics play. To win, though, requires an improvement in past form.
HOW THE RACE WILL BE RUN:
No secret here… 4-NATIONAL TREASURE will vie for the early lead. He may be challenged early by 5-IL MIRACOLO. The race will be decided by the pace. If 4-NATIONAL TREASURE is gifted no early challenge, he could steal the race, as he did in the Preakness. Don’t expect that to happen.
Unlike the Preakness, the pace will be quicker. 1-TAPIT SHOES, 6-FORTE, and 7-HIT SHOW will nip at the heels of the leaders. 6-FORTE will want to stay within a safe striking distance as they round the final turn. I am interested to see what 8-ANGEL OF EMPIRE does early on. Trainer Brad Cox adds blinkers on this horse for the first time, suggesting he wants to keep this horse closer to the lead than in past races. Makes sense.
The final turn at Belmont is unique. It is a huge sweeping turn. Prior Belmont Stakes are won and lost around that turn. No one knows that better than trainer Todd Pletcher who will have 6-FORTE on the outside of 4-NATIONAL TREASURE. This time the Preakness winner cannot hold off the better horses.
Down the stretch, here comes 2-TAPIT TRICE and 8-ANGEL OF EMPIRE. If 6-FORTE had not suffered the hoof injury and shut down for so long, he may have sustained a lead and poked his head in front. But that form is off, especially at 1 ½ miles. Not hard to see 3-ARCANGELO with staying power if truly on the improve, or 1-TAPIT SHOES if he runs to his pedigree. Expect 5-IL MIRACOLO to fade and 9-RED ROUTE ONE overmatched. 7-HIT SHOW is truly a wild card here. Past Belmont winners stay mid pack and have the stamina to fight it out down the stretch. 7-HIT SHOW has that ability.
2-TAPIT TRICE is moving like a freight train toward the wire and nips a closing 8-ANGEL OF EMPIRE and 6-FORTE, with a solid performance from 7-HIT SHOW.
BOX: 2/8 and 2/7
KEY: 2 with 8/ALL
KEY: 2 with 8/6/ALL
LEFTY LOUIE: 3-ARCANGELO
Wagers, rightfully so, will certainly be looking closely at Forte as the favorite to win this race. It is hard to argue against a horse with such a high level of talent. National Treasure’s performance at The Preakness justifies serious consideration, as well.
However, a have some concern about Forte coming off of an injury and running this distance. I don’t see this distance favorable to National Treasure who won The Preakness with early speed.
Arcangelo has not raced against this class of horses in his four races. However, Javier Castellano has been his jockey in his last two races, two impressive wins with late speed.He has improved drastically in each of the two races with Castellano riding him. I think he will take another step forward on Saturday and beat Forte by a nose to win The Belmont. Tapit Trice has the pedigree to contend and will finish third.
I will be betting Arcangelo to win, current odds are 8-1, Arcangelo and Forte in an exacta and then add Tapit Trice for the Trifecta.
3 to win
Good luck everyone.
DANNY DIMES: TAPIT SHOES
No price. No speed. No fun. That race was hard to watch. The 49 half. is the kind of pace you might see in a $5,000 Claiming race at a small track in the middle of nowhere. Hated the stalking strategy by Mage. Played right into Johnny V's game plan to slow down the race and turn it into a 3-furling sprint. for National Treasure. Everyone knew the plan and let them do it regardless.
I am going for a big upset with 1-TAPIT SHOES. Or is it? This is a late-bloomer that fits the Tapit model, and the full brother of Cyberknife, who was last year's late bloomer. What especially caught my eye was Brad Cox running him right out of the gate at a mile and 1/16 in his very first race. He knows Tapit Shoes needs distance and he will certainly get it here. The numbers are getting better every race and I am willing to overlook the layoff. Could be a boom or bust play, but I still like it. I expect this horse to be a major player throughout the summer and beyond, so why wait? My second choice (kind of a 1A) is ANGEL OF EMPIRE, and I will really jump in if the line goes to 4-1 or higher. While he moved to the rail on the back stretch of the Derby, Mage moved out, was the first to find room, and there was the race. I am very conflicted on both HIT SHOW and RED ROUTE ONE. I hate leaving out Rosario at the Belmont, so he will be in my bets somewhere. I am taking the same position on Forte and Tapit Trice as I did before the Derby. I just think they have leveled off. Where is the improvement coming from? Regarding National Treasure, if the other jockeys let him loose on another historically slow place, we will be looking at a lot of very angry owners after the race.
I am playing a Pick 3 starting in Race 7 using the 12 with 12/8/5/2 with 1. Really surprised I am getting Irad Ortiz at 12-1 in Race 7, so will take a win bet there too.
JERSEY JOE: ANGEL OF EMPIRE
My Florida campaign and Derby Horse was FORTE and it’s easy to love a horse who has done
nothing wrong. He’s probably the post time favorite and might well prevail. My concern is the
70 day layoff, his recent stumble while jogging and a sense that the owner wants him in this
race more than the trainer. I respect him but will look elsewhere for the top pick.
My win pick is ANGEL OF EMPIRE. His impressive Arkansas Derby win was followed by a solid, 7
wide closing 3 rd in the Kentucky Derby. At a likely 7/2 he should provide some value in a very
To round out the top three, it’s hard to ignore the Tapit offspring in the race. TAPIT TRICE is the
obvious standout but in addition I love the rapidly and consistently improving ARCANGELO and
will also use TAPIT SHOES.
The Belmont Stakes is usually the race where the cream rises to the top. It is a gut check
race, where talent and quality usually prevail, as most of the lesser quality three year olds can’t
handle this one and a half mile test. There are really only four horses to consider: Forte, Tapit
Trice, Angel of Empire and National Treasure.
Forte will be the expected favorite and, if he is fully recovered from injury, likely to be
Angel of Empire ran gamely in the Kentucky Derby finishing third, while closing at the
finish. The issue with this colt, however, is the distance may be too much for his breeding. His
only real bad race was on the turf as an experiment.
National Treasure, the Preakness winner, is also likely to be in the mix. Impressive
performance, however, against a weaker field. Not sure that same effort will get him into the
winner’s circle this time.
Finally, Tapit Trice. Tapit horses are bred to run and this Todd Fletcher horse seems well
primed to make a very impressive trip. His only really bad race was at Churchill Downs when he
got bumped and had a very rough trip. Let’s see if he can rebound.
All that said, I expect Forte to take home the trophy, with Tapit Trice nearby and Angel
of Empire and National Treasure to duel it out for third.
As always, a nice Manhattan is the adult beverage of the day. I do prefer an Old Fashioned,
but on today’s special occasion, will opt for the Manhattan to conform.