The Belmont tends to be a mixture of new shooters and Kentucky Derby or Preakness Stakes veterans. If Always Dreaming wins the Preakness Stakes, then he could be poised to take home the Triple Crown.
With a probable list yet to be filled, there has been confirmation of Japanese Road to the Kentucky Derby winner and UAE Derby participant Epicharis being confirmed for the big event. Following the shoes of last year's 3rd place finisher, Lani, Epicharis has proven to be talented enough to demand attention.
Return here to find out more as we learn who may show up in the third jewel of the Triple Crown!
2017 Belmont Stakes Contenders
Listed in Post Position Order
1) Twisted Tom
Twisted Tom is a new shooter to the Triple Crown trail who makes his graded stakes debut in the Belmont. He’ll be one of the long shots near 20-1 despite winning four of six starts including three straight in 2017. His last two minor stakes wins were stalking and press the pace victories at Laurel Park.
Twisted Tom is a New York-bred with a top Equibase Speed Figure of 93. That won’t have him competing for the cash against this field, but last year’s Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown says this Creative Cause colt is rapidly improving and training beautifully with a pair of strong 5 furlong breezes over the Belmont track. Brown says this is a huge class test for Twisted Tom, but says he can stay the mile and a half distance and is sitting on the top of his game. Javier Castellano, who road Cloud Computing to a Preakness win last month, will ride Twisted Tom seeking his first Belmont win after finishing 2nd three times in 10 starts. Twisted Tom is trying to become just the third gelding to win the Belmont Stakes, but his lack of class and any fast pressing pace likely leaves him lagging behind down the long Belmont stretch.
Tapwrit has a stalking style and is trained by Todd Pletcher. Tapwrit has three wins and a 2nd place finish in seven starts with his last race a troubled trip 6th place finish in the Kentucky Derby. He managed to close from 15th place at the three quarter pole after a poor break and being steadied off heels in the opening furlong. The Belmont will be Tapwrit’s fifth-straight graded stakes start and he won the Tampa Bay Derby but faced no Belmont runners in that race. Tapwrit did not take a liking to the Keeneland track as a 2-1 choice when finishing a well-beaten 5th in the Blue Grass Stakes in April, but was more than four lengths behind 4th place finisher J Boys Echo.
Belmont-based Pletcher has won the Belmont Stakes twice and also has five runner-up finishes in 22 starts including last year when Destin was nosed-out by Creator. Pletcher got three solid maintenance works out of Tapwrit leading into the Triple Crown race, and regular rider Jose Ortiz will need to get the high-priced, striking gray colt to settle into a comfortable stride conserving his best for the big sweeping far turn and long stretch run. Tapwrit has the pedigree to get the 1.5 mile distance as a son of Tapit, who produced recent Belmont winners Tonalist (2014) and Creator (2016). Tapwrit will be in a group of contenders at less than 10-1 odds, but worth a bet to win and finish in the money as an exacta and trifecta inclusion.
Gormley has four wins in seven starts highlighted by a win in the Santa Anita Derby. He finished 9th in the Kentucky Derby, and as a 2-year-old Gormley finished 16 lengths behind Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Champion Classic Empire. Triple Crown-winning Jockey Victor Espinoza will ride for trainer John Shirreffs, who along with the owners decided to run Gormley in the Belmont as the 13th and final entry to go after the grueling 1 ½ mile ‘Test of the Champion’.
Gormley will be stalking the pacesetters in the Belmont, and he has the breeding to get the distance. But his long shot price near 20-1 comes with concerns from his slow closing 3/8 mile in the Santa Anita Derby and when he came up empty at the top of the lane in the Kentucky Derby.
4) J Boys Echo
J Boys Echo is a son of 2003 Horse of the Year Mineshaft, who jockey Robby Albarado rode to three Grade 1 wins. Trainer Dale Roman’s has this bay colt training very well at Churchill Downs leading into the Belmont Stakes. His last race was a poor 15th place finish in the Kentucky Derby when he fell way back and failed to menace. J Boys Echo has two wins in seven starts with a lone stakes victory in the Gotham when he had one of the fastest runs by a 3-year-old this year on a soft but fast track and beat subsequent Preakness winner Cloud Computing by 3 ½ lengths.
Jockey Robby Albarado missed the Derby due to a leg fracture but is back aboard J Boys Echo in the Belmont, and Albarado has twice finished runner-up in the Belmont in five starts. While horses near the lead turning for home have won a majority of the recent Belmont’s, J Boys Echo is a closer and greater than 20-1 Belmont long shot that could surprise like Creator last year and one to consider in your exotic wagers.
5) Hollywood Handsome
Hollywood Handsome has run in only two stakes races in his nine starts, with a best finish of 4th in the Louisiana Derby as a huge long shot. Trainer Dallas Stewart is noted for hitting the board with big long shots on the Triple Crown trail, but his horses have never finished in the money in seven Belmont starts.
Jockey Florent Geroux will likely have Hollywood Handsome well off the pace in the Belmont, and don’t expect this bay colt to be making a move at the leaders down the long stretch. Hollywood Handsome’s pedigree suggests a mile is his best distance, and this is not a big long shot to include in your exotics as Hollywood Handsome does not possess enough speed, closing kick or stamina to challenge the Belmont contenders.
6) Lookin at Lee
Lookin At Lee joins Classic Empire as one of two horses pointed to the Belmont Stakes. Lookin At Lee was overlooked in the Kentucky Derby but finished 2nd at 33-1 odds despite a hard-charging and close 3rd place finish in the Arkansas Derby behind winner Classic Empire. Lookin At Lee also finished 4th in the Preakness.
Lookin At Lee is a deep closer and will take some action near 8-1 odds over the long 1 1/2 mile race. That despite having failed to win any of his eight graded stakes races with an overall record of 2-3-2 in 11 starts. Jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. ran his first race at Belmont Park in 2011, and he guided long shot Creator to a victory in the 2016 Belmont Stakes. He'll partner with trainer Steve Asmussen again looking for back-to-back Belmont wins.
7) Irish War Cry
Irish War Cry added his name to the Belmont Stakes less than a week before the big $1.5 million race. He was nearly the co-favorite in his last race in the Kentucky Derby, but faded to 10th after stalking the leaders through the first mile. He’s won four of six starts and entering the Derby, Irish War Cry was the only horse in the field with three 100+ Brisnet Speed Figures.
Trainer Graham Motion has his Curlin colt training well and says Irish War Cry is a very relaxed colt. He will instruct jockey Rajiv Maragh to settle Irish War Cry off the pacesetters as he did in the Wood Memorial before kicking away in the stretch to win by 3 ½ lengths without having to give his best in the final furlong with no closers coming. He is a son of two-time Horse of the Year Curlin, who finished 2nd in the 2007 Belmont Stakes. Irish War Cry has the ability to wear down his opponents with a steady and powerful grind, which is often what it takes to win down the long stretch at Belmont.
8) Senior Investment
Senior Investment has three wins in nine starts with his best win in the Lexington Stakes in April. He had a 4th win in his 2017 debut at the Fair Grounds but was disqualified for interference after crossing the finish line in front. He beat no Belmont runners in the Lexington Stakes, and followed with a 3rd place finish in the Preakness Stakes at 31-1 odds, when he closed from 8th in the stretch to produce a big trifecta payoff. In his stakes debut in April, Senior Investment finished 6th in the Louisiana Derby behind runner-up Patch and 4th place finisher Hollywood Handsome, who are both running in the Belmont Stakes.
Trainer Kenny McPeek saddles his sixth Belmont runner and trained 2002 Belmont winner Sarava, who pulled off a monumental upset as a 70-1 long shot. The sire of Senior Investment was more of a sprinter, but also the grandson of A.P. Indy, who won the 1992 Belmont Stakes. Channing Hill makes his first start in the Belmont, but likely won’t have enough horse to make up ground and cash in against the stronger contenders.
Meantime is a lightly-raced chestnut colt by Shackleford, who won the 2011 Preakness but could not stay the distance in the Belmont where he finished fifth. Meantime is 1-2-1 in four career starts all as a 3-year-old. He finished 2nd to highly-regarded Timeline in the Peter Pan last out in his stakes debut on a sloppy track at Belmont Park.
Trainer Brian Lynch has his first Belmont horse and jockey Mike Smith is a 2-time Belmont Stakes winner who will have Meantime as one of the pacesetters in the Belmont. But most would see it as a big surprise if this long shot is able to show the necessary stamina and sustain his position against this group of stronger more established contenders. Meantime has worked well the past 10 days at Belmont and has the potential to improve. But less than two months removed from his maiden win, Meantime is going to miss the board for the first time in the Belmont.
Multiplier began racing as a 3-year-old, and the bay colt by The Factor broke his maiden in his third try at the Fair Grounds in March. Multiplier was sent to Hawthorne and he won the 1 1/8 mile Illinois Derby sitting just out of striking distance with his closing style and producing a solid closing response to win by a head with his career-best 107 Equibase Speed Rating. Multiplier was then purchased by an ownership group and assigned to trainer Brendan Walsh. They entered Multiplier in the Preakness Stakes and he failed to fire sitting well back under first time rider Joel Rosario. He did make up two lengths in the stretch to finish sixth; his first finish out of the money in five starts.
Rosario retains the mount in the Belmont, and he’s a top rider in New York’s loaded colony and won the Belmont with Tonalist in 2014 and was runner-up in 2015. But Rosario doesn’t have enough horse to get the grueling 1.5 mile distance. He comes from a pedigree of sprinters, and even if a number of horses are tiring in the long Belmont stretch, Multiplier won’t be able to catch the stronger contenders with more speed and stamina.
11) Epicharis (JPN)
Epicharis is the Japanese invader who enters the Belmont Stakes with four wins from five starts and nearly $1 million in earnings. His only loss came in his last start in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Derby in March where he led for nearly the entire race before yielding to Thunder Snow in the final yards. Epicharis qualified for the Kentucky Derby, but his connections chose to target the Belmont Stakes for his U.S. debut.
Epicharis will be the pacesetter or pressing the pace in the Belmont, but his fluid stride and natural cruising speed combined with his tactical speed and ability to rate should be a valuable asset in the Belmont. Epicharis also has solid breeding and stamina which make him one to watch at a price near 8-1. Epicharis’ sire, Gold Allure, is a son of 1989 Kentucky Derby winner and Horse of the Year Sunday Silence, who went on to become the most accomplished sire in Japanese breeding.
Patch is a pace-presser who was unable to get towards the front in the Kentucky Derby breaking from the far outside No. 20 post. He finished 14th with a troubled trip, but Patch placed 2nd in the Louisiana Derby following his maiden win at Gulfstream. Patch is trained by Todd Pletcher and makes the fifth start of his career with a 1-2-0 log. John Velazquez, who won the Kentucky Derby aboard Always Dreaming, will ride Patch in the Belmont Stakes.
The Pedigree for Patch suggests he’s one of the best-suited colts in the race to get the 1.5 mile distance. Along with his sire Union Rags, who Velazquez rode to victory in the 2012 Belmont Stakes as the favorite, his dam sire is A.P. Indy, who won the 1992 Belmont. Patch lost his left eye due to an infection, but he’ll see down the long Belmont stretch clearly after making a move on the big sweeping second turn. Patch was over-bet as a feel-good story in the Derby, where he had a horrible post and wasn’t quite ready in his fourth career start. But he’ll perform better in the Belmont as a long shot that could produce a big payday in the exotics.
Read more about the top horses in the Belmont Stakes in the Belmont betting guide!
The 2016 Belmont Stakes is the 148th renewal of the race. It will ring the bell on Saturday, June 11th out of Belmont Park in New York. The distance will once again be 1 ½ mile, making it one of the longest races these colts will ever run.
Exaggerator (9/5) – The Desormeaux trained superstar finally burst through to beat Nyquist in the 2016 Preakness Stakes and could very well be on the verge of another incredible triumph in the final leg of the Triple Crown. Exaggerator will enter as the odds on favorite. He is 5-3-1 in 11 starts and hasn’t finished off the podium since the 2015 Delta Downs Jackpot.
Stradivari (5/1) – Stradivari showed very well at the Preakness Stakes with a fourth place finish behind Exaggerator, Cherry Wine and Nyquist. The hype surrounding this Todd Pletcher trainee continues to excite fans. He slots in as a strong second choice and certainly seems to have the speed to make an impact early on in the 2016 Belmont Stakes.
Destin (6/1) – This son of Giant’s Causeway has always been on the Triple Crown radar and ran to a respectable 6th in the Kentucky Derby. After skipping the Preakness, Destin could stand as a threat considering that many consider him better suited for longer distances. The record setter from the 2016 Tampa Bay Derby could very well be a great play considering the weakness of the field.
Cherry Wine (8/1) – As the unexpected runner-up in the Preakness Stakes behind Exaggerator, it’s obvious that Cherry Wine is going to draw some suitors. But be forewarned that this son of Paddy O’Prado hasn’t won a stakes race in his short career. He has finished 4th in the Rebel, 3rd in the Blue Grass and 2nd in the Preakness during his last three outings, so the trend is there…but this is a tough gamble to make overall.
Suddenbreakingnews (10/1) – The only gelding in the field placed fifth in the Kentucky Derby and hasn’t really been able to do much with the momentum generated off of a win in the Southwest Stakes to kickoff the 2016 campaign.
Creator (10/1) – After winning the Arkansas Derby over Suddenbreakingnews and Whitmore, Creator ran to a very unexpected 13th place at the Kentucky Derby. He has the gas to go the 1 ½ mile distance, and was valiant in his win at Fair Grounds. There’s very little excitement surrounding him overall but the oddsmakers aren’t ignoring him for whatever that’s worth.
Governor Malibu (12/1) – The big unknown at the 2016 Belmont Stakes is Governor Malibu who most recently finished 2nd in both the Federico Tesio and Peter Pan stakes. This son of Malibu Moon is trained by Christopher Clement and could be an upset specialist. Governor Malibu is as much of a shot in the dark as there is in the Belmont.
Lani (20/1) – Everyone’s favorite character in the 2016 Triple Crown makes a third appearance after finishing 9th in the Kentucky Derby and 5th in the Preakness. The 20/1 odds are fair given that Lani shades more towards being a sprinter than a grinder over a longer haul.
Brody’s Cause (20/1) – After a pretty strong juvenile season, which culminated in a 3rd place finish in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, Brody’s Cause put himself on the proverbial map for the prep race season. A win in the Blue Grass Stakes was well deserved, and this son of Giant’s Causeway was able to run to a 7th place finish in the Kentucky Derby. There’s talent and competitiveness here, but 20/1 odds seem fair considering what he’s done against stronger competition. He was punished by Destin in the Tampa Bay Derby, where he also finished 7th.
Gettysburg (30/1) – Gettysburg is new to the Triple Crown, but made an appearance at the Arkansas Derby where he finished 5th behind Creator and Suddenbreakingnews. Most expect him to set the pace and then fall off in the latter lengths of the 2016 Belmont.
Trojan Nation (30/1) – Trojan Nation came on strong in the Wood Memorial but that seemed like an aberration after he finished 16h in the Kentucky Derby. Two turns seems like one too many.
Seeking The Soul (30/1) – Nothing more than a new shooter who has yet to win his first competitive race.
Forever d’Oro (30/1) – The only thing that this Dallas Stewart longshot has going for him is that he’s a son of Medaglia d’Oro out of Lemons Forever. Throwing him in the mix at 1 ½ miles when he hasn’t competed at a 1 ¼ miles seems like a fool’s errand.