With the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby in the books, June’s Belmont Stakes is the last shot for owners to capture a prestigious, and bountiful, Triple Crown purse.
Coming into Belmont Park, you will be inundated with praises for Oxbow and Orb, winners of the two previous Triple Crown races.
And rightfully so; both colts are trained and mounted by world-class race teams.
However, the Belmont Stakes is different from its predecessors. The 1.5-mile track evens the playing field for the slow-starters. It’s a true test of endurance that can help a late-surge create a memorable Run for the Carnations finish.
Beyond the big names there are some other horses that have a good shot at making some people’s pocketbooks a little heavier. Some of these are prominent contenders that skipped Preakness and will be looking to bounce back after failing to win at Churchill Downs.
We’ll take a look at a couple of these dark horses that could make things interesting at Belmont Park.
Giant Finish will race again following a 10th-place finish at the Kentucky Derby. The colt did not participate in the Preakness.
Lineage is the strongest point for Giant Finish, an unranked dark horse at the 2013 Belmont Stakes. He is sired by Frost Giant, a former Suburban winner at Belmont Park in 2008, according to Mike Curry of America’s Best Racing blog.
Prior to the Derby, Giant Finish won two of his six races and finished third in the Grade 3 Spiral Stakes.
Trainer Tony Dutrow believes the longer race will benefit his horse.
Giant Finish also has the advantage of having an experienced and successful Belmont jockey in the saddle. Two-time winner Edgar Prado will mount Giant Finish on June 8, per Daily Racing Forum’s David Grening.
Golden Soul did not race in the Preakness, but is coming off of a second-place finish at the Kentucky Derby. Belmont is a similar race, although it is longer in length. This should help Golden Soul’s chances tremendously.
The colt’s running style seems best fit for this type of challenge. According to Curry, Golden Soul typically bides his time behind the lead pace and makes strong, late pushes towards the front of the pack.
Trainer Dallas Stewart has yet to make his mark on the sport, but he was mentored by Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukes for 11 years. Stewart could finally get his first race win in the Triple Crown series if things play out favorably for Golden Soul at Belmont Park.
Daily Racing Forum’s Mike Welsch said on Twitter that he was impressed by Freedom Child after a recent early-morning Belmont Stakes preparation session:
Trainer Tom Albertrani is hopeful about his horse’s chances despite not cracking into the Kentucky Derby in April. After winning Belmont Park’s Grade 2 Peter Pan Stakes in early May, though, Freedom Child has built momentum leading up to Belmont.
Six horses that have won the Peter Pan Stakes have gone on to win the Triple Crown's final race at Belmont Park.
Freedom Child, Horse Racing Nation’s 305th-ranked horse, has the odds stacked against him, but is looking good and could surprise many in the very competitive Belmont field.
Follow B/R's Mike Hoag on Twitter: Follow @MikeHoagJr