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Pletcher Duo of Forte, Tapit Trice Lead Belmont Stakes Entries | See 2023 Belmont Field, Odds, & Analysis

Pletcher Duo of Forte, Tapit Trice Lead Belmont Stakes Entries | See 2023 Belmont Field, Odds, & Analysis

ELMONT, N.Y – A competitive nine-horse field that includes 2022 Champion 2-Year-Old Colt Forte, Grade 1 Preakness Stakes winner National Treasure and three Grade 1 Kentucky Derby alumni comprises the 155th running of the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes (G1) presented by NYRA Bets on Saturday at Belmont Park, marking the third jewel of the Triple Crown. 

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The Belmont Stakes spearheads the three-day Belmont Stakes Racing Festival, run from June 8-10, and is one of six Grade 1 events carded for Saturday topped by the “Test of the Champion” in Race 12 at 7:02 p.m. Eastern as part of a 13-race card which offers a first post of 11:20 a.m.

The blockbuster Saturday program also features three Breeders’ Cup “Win And You’re In” qualifying events, including the $500,000 Ogden Phipps [Distaff], $400,000 Jaipur [Turf Sprint], and $1 million Hill ‘n’ Dale Metropolitan Handicap [Dirt Mile]. 

The Belmont Stakes, run at the endurance-testing 1 1/2-mile distance, was inaugurated in 1867 at the defunct Jerome Park with filly Ruthless capturing its premiere running. Throughout the past century-and-a-half, 38 horses have captured the final leg of America’s Triple Crown en route to Hall of Fame induction, including 12 of the 13 Triple Crown winners.

This year’s “Test of the Champion” features Forte returning to action following a victory in the Grade 1 Florida Derby on April 1 at Gulfstream Park, where he defeated next-out Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Mage by one length. 

A Belmont triumph would be a redeeming one for the dark bay colt, who was scratched from the Kentucky Derby the morning of the race with a bruised foot. 

1Tapit ShoesBrad CoxJose Ortiz20/1
2Tapit TriceTodd PletcherLuis Saez3/1
3ArcangeloJena AntonucciJavier Castellano8/1
4National TreasureBob BaffertJohn Velazquez5/1
5Il MiracoloAntonio SanoMarcos Meneses30/1
6ForteTodd PletcherIrad Ortiz Jr.5/2
7Hit ShowBrad CoxManny Franco10/1
8Angel Of EmpireBrad CoxFlavien Prat7/2
9Red Route OneSteve AsmussenJoel Rosario15/1

Belmont Stakes Post Position Draw Quotes

Todd Pletcher, trainer of Forte (post 6, 5-2) and Tapit Trice (post 2, 3-1): “We ride our race and ride to win the race. You have to expect him [Forte] to be a fit horse. It’s 10 weeks between races, but he had a great foundation leading into that and he hasn’t missed much training. His breezes here have been very good. I personally haven’t seen the bottom of him. In all of his training, he comes back and cools out quickly. We still have to do it. It wasn’t ideal the way we got here, but it’s how it’s unfolded.” 

On Tapit Trice: “He did win the Blue Grass from the one-hole and the key is getting him out and into position. He’s got a big, long stride on him. If we can get him into a good position and into a good rhythm, I think he’s going to like the mile and a half. He’s been training that way.

“Hopefully we can work our way into the clear on the backside and let him find his stride. Now he’s just got to run professionally and put it all together. It’s a long race, but it’s not necessarily a closer’s race. A lot of that will depend on how the fractions unfold. I think if they’re going slow, obviously we need to be stalking. If for some reason they go faster than expected, we can let them [Tapit Trice and Forte] settle into their rhythms.”

Mike Repole, co-owner of Forte: “Obviously he didn’t run in the [Kentucky] Derby, but he hasn’t missed any training. It works out. We still think this is the best 3-year-old in the crop and I think on Saturday he’s going to prove that. I think I might be the only owner to have scratched two Derby favorites, ever. Most owners don’t get the highs, so the lows are part of the game.” 

Brad Cox, trainer of Angel of Empire (post 8, 7-2), Hit Show (post 7, 10-1) and Tapit Shoes (post 1, 20-1): “Flavien [Prat] came back after the Derby and immediately said to put blinkers on the horse [Angel of Empire]. I don’t know that it would have made a big difference in winning the Derby, but I do know that he does train well in them. It’s something to experiment with and see what happens. I’m very happy with where he’s at.” 

On Hit Show: “It’s [the post] fine. You got a mile and a half to figure out. The post doesn’t mean a whole, whole lot here.”

On Tapit Shoes: “We’re going to ask him to run out of there. We’ll let him break on his own terms and go forward. It doesn’t look like there’s a tremendous amount of speed, so we’ll see.”

Jimmy Barnes, assistant to trainer Bob Baffert of National Treasure (post 4, 5-1): “We wanted an inside-type post, so post four should be perfect for him. At a mile and a half, it’s not that big a concern.

“He’s been going over the track very well here. I couldn’t be happier with him. We’re happy to be here and participating in this Belmont and I look forward for good things to happen.

“Most of the Belmonts we’ve won, our horse has been up close, so I’d say that’s where he’ll probably be.”

On National Treasure’s win in the Grade 1 Preakness: “I thought he ran a gutty race. He really dug in. That horse [Blazing Sevens] came to him and I thought he was going to pass him, but he dug down and really showed some grit there. I was very happy for Johnny [jockey, Velazquez] winning his first Preakness. That was really exciting.”

Jena Antonucci, trainer of Arcangelo (post 3, 8-1): “We’re good with the position and happy with it. The speed is going to have to do some work inside [Tapit Trice] and outside [National Treasure] of us, so hopefully we’ll get a nice, honest pace. No complaints. 

“We are excited and trying to keep him happy and staying focused on him. We’re looking forward to it. He’s shown he can handle it either way [with or without pace], so it’s going to be what it’s going to be. We can handle adversity and we’ll let him and Javier [Castellano] work out their trip.” 

On breezing a half-mile in 48.94 seconds over the main track Tuesday: “It was an open gallop and we just wanted to let him stretch his legs a little bit. That’s just kind of who he is.”

Jon Ebbert, owner of Arcangelo: “It’s unbelievable to be here with all these Hall of Fame trainers. Jena [Antonucci, trainer] has done a great job. It’s a dream.”

Scott Blasi, assistant to trainer Steve Asmussen of Red Route One (post 9, 15-1): “He doesn’t have a lot of pace anyways, so I don’t think that [the post] affects us too much. I think the pace in the race is more important to us than post.

“He’s very sound like Gun Runner was and they’re both very efficient movers.”

Antonio Sano, trainer of Il Miracolo (post 5, 30-1): “He should be forwardly placed. The horse is doing great. A mile and a half is not an easy distance, but we’re giving it a try.”

On the draw: “I’m happy with it. Everything is good.” 

Eduardo Soto, owner of Il Miracolo: “It’s perhaps a once in a lifetime chance and I love to gamble. To be in the presence of the people I see here is an absolute honor. Let’s roll!”