The third jewel of horse racing’s Triple Crown is its most grueling because of the marathon distance of 1 1/2 miles, coming at the end of a three race stretch in five weeks. However, none of the horses entered in Saturday's 142nd running of the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Stakes ran in both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.
Additionally, both winners of the first two jewels of the Triple Crown, Super Saver and Lookin at Lucky, are absent.
So, what are we left with?
A wide-open field void of an established star that features the runner-ups from both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. Ice Box was installed as the 3-to-1 morning line favorite and drew post No. 6 and First Dude was made the 7-to-2 second choice from post No. 11.
“He’s a big nice horse, does everything nice. When (jockey) Ramon (Dominguez) got off him in the Blue Grass he said the distance of the Belmont would suit him best,” said First Dude’s trainer Dale Romans. “Ice box is going to be tough. We think with the extra distance and some more experience; maybe we can turn the tables.”
Before finishing second in the Kentucky Derby, Ice Box won the Grade 1 Florida Derby by a nose, a race in which First Dude finished over six lengths back in fifth.
Make Music for Me, who drew post No. 4, made a big run in the Kentucky Derby and has run three strong races behind Preakness winner Lookin at Lucky.
“That’s our barometer. He was overlooked because he did not win, but he definitely made his presence felt,” said Make Music for Me’s trainer Alexis Barba, who will be looking to become the first female trainer to win the Belmont.
After winning the Grade 1 Bluegrass by over four lengths, Stately Victor, who breaks from post No. 9 in the Belmont, was considered a live long shot in the Kentucky Derby, but never got to do his best running on the first Saturday in May.
“He actually made a nice little run in the turn in the Derby and came up on a wall of horses,” said Stately Victor’s trainer Mike Maker. “He’s a big old dude so it was hard to get him started again. We thought we’d give him another shot.”
Below is the complete field for Saturday's race, including post position, morning line and a brief comment. Make sure to check back throughout the week for more coverage.
PP Horse (Morning Line Odds) Comment
1. Dave in Dixie (20-1) Four straight defeats since breaking his maiden sprinting last summer at Del Mar.
2. Spangled Star (30-1) No shot to get his second career win here.
3. Uptowncharlybrown (10-1) Looking to honor his late trainer Alan Seewald.
4. Make Music for Me (10-1) Made up over 23 lengths in Kentucky Derby to finish fourth.
5. Fly Down (9-2) Impressive six-length win in Dwyer over this track.
6. Ice Box (3-1) Unlikely to get another wicked early pace to close into.
7. Drosselmeyer (12-1) Seems to be regressing. Smith takes over for Desormeaux.
8. Game On Dude (10-1) Baffert/Garcia tandem hottest in the nation.
9. Stately Victor (15-1) Eliminated both himself and Lookin at Lucky early in Kentucky Derby.
10. Stay Put (20-1) Won the first race on Derby day. Finished fifth in both stakes starts.
11. First Dude (7-2) Big shot to lead them all the way.
12. Interactif (12-1) Last-minute Pletcher entry. Can grass/synth form transfer to Big Sandy?
Don't forget to follow me on Twitter @mdoche!