While there will be no Triple Crown intrigue heading into Saturday's Belmont Stakes, the buildup to the race in Elmont has created an innumerable amount of storylines.
Most notable of those storylines is the head-to-head battle between Kentucky Derby winner Orb and Preakness Stakes winner Oxbow. When Oxbow shocked the field at Pimlico last month, a rubber match between these two horses instantly became the best-possible scenario for organizers. The intrigue on a mainstream level tends to slog a bit without history on the line, and pitting these two against one another "tale of the tape" style at least seems fun from the outside looking in.
However, as the race grew closer, it became apparent that plenty of other horses, trainers and jockeys deserved their moments to shine. Rosie Napravnik is trying to become just the second female jockey to ever win a Triple Crown race riding Unlimited Budget, a horse trying to become the second filly since in the past century to take home a Belmont Crown.
And the odds for this race? Well, they've been in constant flux since the moment post positions were announced. The betting line is always an interesting indicator of how horse racing experts are feeling, as placing wagers is synonymous with the entire sport's experience. If a horse's odds plummet or rise as the week goes along, it's safe to say there's a pretty good reason.
With that in mind, here is a complete breakdown of the latest betting information for the entire field at this year's Belmont Stakes.
Complete Odds and Post Positions for 2013 Belmont Stakes
|1||Frac Daddy||Alan Garcia ||Ken McPeek ||23-1|
|2||Freedom Child ||Luis Saez ||Tom Albertrani||8-1|
|3||Overanalyze||John Velazquez||Todd Pletcher||11-1|
|4||Giant Finish||Edgar Prado||Anthony Dutrow||34-1|
|5||Orb||Joel Rosario||Shug McGaughey||5-2|
|6||Incognito||Irad Ortiz Jr.||Kiaran McLaughlin||19-1|
|7||Oxbow||Gary Stevens||D. Wayne Lukas||16-1|
|8||Midnight Taboo||Garrett Gomez||Todd Pletcher||37-1|
|9||Revolutionary||Javier Castellano||Todd Pletcher||5-2|
|10||Will Take Charge||Jon Court||D. Wayne Lukas||23-1|
|11||Vyjack||Julien Leparoux||Rudy Rodriguez||31-1|
|12||Palace Malice||Mike Smith||Todd Pletcher||10-1|
|13||Unlimited Budget||Rosie Napravnik||Todd Pletcher||12-1|
|14||Golden Soul||Robby Albarado||Dallas Stewart||16-1
Via Daily Racing Form.
When: Saturday, June 8
Post Time: 6:20 p.m. ET
Where: Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y.
Live Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra
Horses to Watch at Belmont Stakes
The Favorite: Orb (5-2)
This time a few weeks ago, Orb was the talk of the horse racing world. The three-year-old colt had possibly the best pedigree for a Triple Crown winner since Big Brown's tantalizing run in 2008.
Trained by Shug McGaughey and ridden by red-hot jockey Joel Rosario, Orb's win at the Kentucky Derby was special. He was the first thoroughbred since Big Brown five years ago to win as a favorite, setting off pique in interest that's almost unforeseen in today's society. He came in as a massive favorite in the Preakness.
We all know what happened next. After drawing the inside post mid-week, Orb struggled to get out of the gate and was pushed to the middle of the pack. When Rosario attempted to get Orb to bite down and charge to the front the way he did at Churchill Downs, his horse failed to launch and wound up in fourth place.
We'll find out whether that failure to launch was merely a result of the inside post tiring him out or if Orb was only a flash in the pan on Saturday. He's again the favorite, having drawn the No. 5 post—the third-best position in the entire field from a historical perspective. There won't be any horses pummeling for inside position in this race, no need to shuffle back and forth looking for a lane to drive through.
But with this 1.5-mile slog necessitating a last-second burst to down the stretch, it will be interesting to see how Rosario rides his horse. There is no perfect formulae at the Belmont, merely jockeys trying relatively similar things to varying degrees. Orb was unable to live up to his Triple Crown hype. But it may be even more interesting to see what he does after the fall.
The Challenger: Revolutionary (5-2)
It's safe to say Todd Pletcher has been quite the busy man this week. The renowned trainer, who is perhaps best known at the Belmont for taking filly Rags to Riches to a crown in 2007, has entered five horses in Saturday's event. In case you're not a math wiz—don't worry, I have calculator, too—that's over a third of the field. By proxy of the sheer number of horses Pletcher took to the Belmont, he has more than a 33 percent chance of finding the winner's area.
Pletcher's best opportunity for his second triumph is Revolutionary, who will come off at 5-2 when hitting the starting gate. While Revolutionary's name may have left the national lexicon over the past month, folks with a good memory will remember the horse's charge to the finish at the Kentucky Derby.
Ultimately, Revolutionary came up short, finishing in third place. His ownership and Pletcher chose against running the three-year-old colt a couple weeks later at the Preakness, hoping the rest and relaxation would do wonders for Revolutionary's chances during the long Belmont slog.
It seems bettors are lining up with a resounding "yes." Revolutionary opened the week at 9-2 odds (via Bovada) and has now soared all the way equal with Orb—a semi-shocking turn of events from a betting perspective. Even with Pletcher and rest buoying the way, having a horse that hasn't run in a month be so close to being the overall favorite shows just how much bettors believe in this horse.
When looking at Revolutionary's career, the reasoning becomes abundantly clear. The horse has never finished outside the money in seven career races, and the Kentucky Derby was his only loss of the 2013 calendar year. He was victorious at the Louisiana Derby in March, a race that is one of the biggest pre-Churchill Downs tuneups in the world.
The absence of Calvin Borel, his jockey on the first Saturday in May, is a mini-detriment. But Javier Castellano has plenty of experience atop Revolutionary, and that comfort should make the drop from Borel minimal.
The Question Mark: Oxbow (16-1)
While Revolutionary has seen his odds drop precipitously throughout the week, the opposite has been true for Oxbow. The Preakness winner opened at 5-1 odds per Bovada, just behind Revolutionary and Orb among favorites. Having a Triple Crown race winner with worse odds than one that finished third was a little curious from the beginning.
Things have only plummeted from there. As of publication, Oxbow is standing at 16-1 odds to win consecutive Triple Crown events. Not only is he now behind the two favorites in this race, but Freedom Child, Overanalyze, Palace Malice and Unlimited Budget have leapfrogged him from a bettor's perspective.
To put it another way: Oxbow's odds are now equivalent to the ones with which he won the Preakness Stakes. It's almost as if the trip to Pimlico never happened. The rematch that was supposed to highlight the finale of the Triple Crown has suddenly become a backburner event for those in the know.
Of course, you can't ignore what happened without examining why it did. First, Oxbow's victory at the Preakness was one of the biggest shockers in recent memory. At 16-1 odds, he was at an astronomical betting disadvantage in such a small field.
D. Wayne Lukas may bring some extra clout to the event, but preconceived notions matter when it comes to these things. Big-time experts aren't going to be more impressed with Oxbow's pedigree now than they were three weeks ago; things don't work like that.
More saliently, though, the way with which Oxbow won at Pimlico is unsustainable at the 1.5-mile Belmont track. Driven hard out of the gate by the unretired Gary Stevens, Oxbow captured a wire-to-wire victory—another feat of historical anomaly. While most expected Oxbow, at least at the time, to slow down as the race progressed, the horse continued its torrid pace to the finish.
That can't happen this time around. The race is too long, too difficult for any horse to go charging forth for that long. That, perhaps more than any other reason, is why it'd be a major shock to see Oxbow come away victorious on Saturday.
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