The 145th running of the Belmont Stakes is setting up to be a fantastically unpredictable showdown that will feature both winning horses from the first two legs and a loaded field of contenders.
After Wednesday's draw for post positions, the field is set. With 14 horses in total, all the top favorites drew favorable posts, as shown by Belmont Stakes on Twitter:
Speaking of favorites, here's a closer look at every horse entered to race on Saturday, along with information about their jockeys, trainers and odds.
|1||Frac Daddy||Alan Garcia ||Ken McPeek ||30-1|
|2||Freedom Child ||Luis Saez ||Tom Albertrani||8-1|
|3||Overanalyze||John Velazquez||Todd Pletcher||12-1|
|4||Giant Finish||Edgar Prado||Anthony Dutrow||30-1|
|5||Orb||Joel Rosario||Shug McGaughey||3-1|
|6||Incognito||Irad Ortiz Jr.||Kiaran McLaughlin||20-1|
|7||Oxbow||Gary Stevens||D. Wayne Lukas||5-1|
|8||Midnight Taboo||Garrett Gomez||Todd Pletcher||30-1|
|9||Revolutionary||Javier Castellano||Todd Pletcher||9-2|
|10||Will Take Charge||Jon Court||D. Wayne Lukas||20-1|
|11||Vyjack||Julien Leparoux||Rudy Rodriguez||20-1|
|12||Palace Malice||Mike Smith||Todd Pletcher||15-1|
|13||Unlimited Budget||Rosie Napravnik||Todd Pletcher||8-1|
|14||Golden Soul||Robby Albarado||Dallas Stewart||10-1|
Odds courtesy of BelmontStakes.com as of Wednesday, June 5.
Will the Belmont be won by a favorite, long shot or dark horse?
Orb, Revolutionary and Oxbow are the betting favorites, and for good reason. Revolutionary won three races before placing in third place at the Kentucky Derby, while Orb and Oxbow both claimed one of the first two Triple Crown races.
As we learned at the Preakness when Oxbow won as a 15-1 long shot, favorites don't always win the big races. With that in mind, it's time to take a closer look at the dark horses for this upcoming race to see what they have to offer and to determine if they have legitimate chances of winning on Saturday.
Frac Daddy: Post No. 1 (30-1 Odds)
Heading into the Kentucky Derby, there was some hope that Frac Daddy would put up a decent fight after he finished in second place at the Arkansas Derby in mid-April.
The official Derby website noted his "strong credentials for the 1 1/4-mile distance, especially from the maternal half of his pedigree." In the end, however, Frac Daddy finished near the back of the pack in 16th place.
Drawing the No. 1 post, trainer Ken McPeek has decided to send his horse to the front early, which will certainly test Frac Daddy's endurance:
Frac Daddy drew the #1 Post Position. Instructions to Alan Garcia are to SEND him to the lead. We are going to role the dice!!— Kenny McPeek (@KennyMcPeek) June 5, 2013
To this point, however, it's worth noting that Frac Daddy is from Skipper's Mate, whose first foal, Lemon Drop Red, has won from one-and-a-half miles in England.
Expectations aren't high, as far as oddsmakers are concerned, but this horse could pull off a huge upset with a bit of good luck and some incredible endurance come Saturday.
Giant Finish: Post No. 4 (30-1 Odds)
This horse managed to split the field at the Kentucky Derby, which was better than some more highly touted horses were able to do.
That said, Giant Finish's 10th-place finish at the Derby is the horse's greatest accomplishment, which doesn't generate a lot of positive buzz leading up to a big race.
Even owner Andy Cohen knows his horse isn't the flashiest, per David Grening of DRF.com: “He doesn’t have the greatest turn of foot, but he seems he can go the same speed every quarter and keep running forever...I think he fits in well in this race.”
DRF's Jay Privman was at the track during a recent training session and wasn't impressed by Giant Finish's movement:
Needless to say, it'll be a huge shock if Giant Finish wins this race. If the horse does come up with the victory, it will certainly live up to its name.
Midnight Taboo: Post No. 8 (30-1 Odds)
Midnight Taboo has never faced a field like he's going to face at this year's Belmont Stakes.
This horse has only logged three career races—two of which were Maiden Special Weight races. A second-place finish at the Allowance Optional Claiming race in May impressed handicapper Larry Zap, who added a caveat:
8. Midnight Taboo- really liked his last in first Allow. condition...looks like a colt of some quality, but being thrown into the deep end.— Larry Zap (@larryzapeye) June 5, 2013
Deep end, indeed.
Should Midnight Taboo win this year's Belmont Stakes, the victory will be one of the biggest surprises in any sport for the 2013 calendar year.
Stranger things have happened, however, and if you've got a good feeling about this horse, don't be afraid to follow your gut.
Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78