The 2013 Belmont Stakes will foster an exciting atmosphere with its top-notch field, headlined by previous Triple Crown race winners Orb and Oxbow.
While the battle between those two accomplished thoroughbreds will be exciting to watch, there are several dark horses who should challenge in the Test of Champions on June 8 at Belmont Park.
Below is a breakdown of the horses who may enter the Belmont Stakes under the radar, but should make some noise before the dust settles.
With wins at the Grade II Remsen Stakes and the Grade I Arkansas Derby, it looked as though Overanalyze had all the makings of a legitimate Kentucky Derby contender.
Unfortunately, it did not work out that way for Overanalyze, as he rode to a mere 11th place at Churchill Downs with Rafael Bejarano aboard. Consistency has been an issue for this talented horse, but the Belmont may provide the stage for him to thrive.
Overanalyze ran only one previous race at Belmont Park, the Futurity Stakes, which went rather well, and resulted in his second career win.
Brian Zipse of Horse Racing Nation points out how Overanalyze follows up every finish outside of the winners circle with a triumph. Should that hold true yet again, there is reason to believe that Overanalyze is a long shot worth betting on.
With a legendary trainer in Todd Pletcher desperately seeking a win at one of horse racing's marquee showcases, a solid outside contender to wager on is Overanalyze.
Will Take Charge
Jockey Jon Court rode Will Take Charge to victory at the Rebel Stakes, which seemed like a momentum building result as he headed into the first Triple Crown event. Unfortunately, it didn't translate to substantial Kentucky Derby success—he finished eighth.
It wasn't a bad finish, but the sloppy track and heavy traffic throughout thwarted Will Take Charge's ability to make a serious push.
The Preakness was even more disappointing, as the Hall of Fame tandem of trainer D. Wayne Lukas and jockey Mike Smith couldn't produce better than a seventh-place effort in the nine-horse field at Pimlico Race Course.
With Court back in the saddle, it will be interesting to see how this recently out of form horse performs at Belmont Park.
Speediness is not Will Take Charge's strong suit against top-notch competition. However, the 1.5-mile track in Elmont, New York should play into his hands favorably. As long as the initial pace isn't too quick and Court can work some magic down the stretch, look for Will Take Charge to finally live up to the hype.
According to the list of contenders provided by Horse Racing Nation, Giant Finish is rated as the lowest horse of those expected to enter.
Which dark horse will fare best in the Belmont Stakes?
That doesn't necessarily mean that Giant Finish is a lost cause, though. Even as the second longest shot at Churchill Downs, this resilient horse managed to wind up in the middle of the pack in 10th place, proving his mettle on the sloshed, arduous track.
Giant Finish needs to remain within realistic distance entering the final straightaway, then live up to his namesake like never before.
Trainer Anthony W. Dutrow has never won a Triple Crown race, and this would certainly be one of the bigger shockers in recent memory. Bear in mind, though, that only one horse was considered a worse bet to win the Preakness than Oxbow, and he proceeded to the winners circle in wire-to-wire fashion.
In fact, Horse Racing Nation had him with the same long odds—15-to-1—in the Spiral Stakes, where Giant Finish placed third. Thus, a robust Run for the Carnations is within the realm of possibility for Giant Finish, because he has the physicality to endure on the tough track.