The 145th Belmont Stakes will take place on June 8, which leaves plenty of time for oddsmakers and entrants to solidify themselves into the field. Among those reasonably expected to make a Run for the Carnations, though, are several prominent horses that should finish near the top.
There may not be a shot at the individual Triple Crown on the line, but that shouldn't diminish the intrigue surrounding this marquee race, rich in captivating tradition.
Below are some early predictions for win, place and show as the top horse races on the calendar wind to a close at Belmont Park.
Coming up empty in the two previous Triple Crown races has to have world-renowned trainer Todd Pletcher eager to have a horse in the winner's circle in Elmont, New York.
Whom do you like to fare best in the Belmont Stakes?
Revolutionary gives Pletcher the best chance at emerging victorious in the Test of Champions. Getting the mount will likely be Calvin Borel, and while that's not confirmed, he did ride Revolutionary to third place in the Kentucky Derby.
Borel has won at Churchill Downs three times before, but has never triumphed at the Belmont. Now that Revolutionary is fresh since he didn't run in the Preakness, his chances have to be considered among the heavy favorites.
The slightly longer, 1.5-mile track plays into Revolutionary's favor since he is a stronger horse but also possesses the requisite speed to close out a race.
In his win at the Louisiana Derby, Revolutionary beat Mylute and Golden Soul, who both have had successful Triple Crown seasons. That track record against elite competition and extended time to rest should result in Revolutionary capturing the August Belmont Trophy.
Unfortunately for Orb and hotshot jockey Joel Rosario, their No. 1 post position in the Preakness Stakes was devastating. The slower pace and nine-horse field created unexpected traffic congestion, and it ultimately denied Orb a shot at the Triple Crown.
While it's undoubtedly a big disappointment for trainer Shug McGaughey, there is a chance for redemption against Pimlico's wire-to-wire winner Oxbow in the final Triple Crown race.
When Orb surged down the final straightaway to a resounding victory at the Run for the Roses, it was clear he was the best horse. Even with the adversity he faced in the Preakness, he still managed to finish in fourth.
According to Horse Racing Nation, Orb is a "possible" entry into the field in Belmont Park. However, Jerry Bossert of the New York Daily News reports that McGaughey believes things are looking up for the speedy thoroughbred:
I think everything is fine. Kind of routine. The tracks been bad so we haven’t been able to do a whole lot. His gallops have been fine. This morning he was looking at stalls and all the kind of stuff. He wasn’t a dead head by any means. The signs are looking good.
Though I believe it's Revolutionary's time to break through, it will still be a wonderful finish that shouldn't be separated by more than one length.
Show: Will Take Charge
The Grade II Rebel Stakes showcased the speed that Will Take Charge possesses when he has a clear shot—he beat Preakness winner Oxbow with a magnificent burst near the finish.
All momentum was thwarted once the big races came around, though. Will Take Charge hasn't lived up to the promise he showed in the above run at Oaklawn Park, finishing eighth in the Kentucky Derby and seventh out of nine competitors in Baltimore.
This is another prospective Pletcher entry, and jockey Jon Court was aboard at Churchill Downs and at the Rebel Stakes.
Court confirmed to KATV's Justin Lewis that he will get the mount once again, after Hall of Famer Mike Smith was in the saddle for the Preakness:
Jockey Jon Court confirms to me he will ride Will Take Charge in the Belmont, after being replaced on the mount for Preakness.— Justin Lewis (@JustinLewisKATV) May 23, 2013
The key for Will Take Charge will be to avoid getting jumbled in the heap of horses that inevitably clusters right out of the starting gates. If Court keeps him on pace, he has the physicality to weather the arduous track and the closing speed to make a strong run at the end.
Will Take Charge hasn't proven himself quite enough this Triple Crown season to garner consideration to place any higher, but this finish will deliver on the flashes of promise he's shown as a three-year-old.