It's only a couple days until the 143rd Belmont Stakes, and although there is no chance at a Triple Crown, this field is one of the most compelling in years.
For the first time in history, the top seven horses from the Kentucky Derby are all set to run in the Belmont. The previous record, for those interested, was five in 1949 and 1950.
Moreover, both the Derby and Preakness winners are in the field for a grudge match, and both horses have displayed enough so far to make it seem like this is a rivalry that can continue after the Belmont. Both could run in the Haskell and Travers this summer on the way towards a showdown for Horse of the Year at Churchill Downs in the Breeders' Cup Classic.
That latter race, so you know, is at 1 1/4-miles, the Derby distance, over the very same track. If both Animal Kingdom and Shackleford keep improving and make it to the first Saturday in November, we could have one of the greatest showdowns in modern racing history.
But the interest doesn't stop there.
Nehro, the runner-up in the Kentucky Derby, is back to try and exact revenge on Animal Kingdom.
Third place finisher Mucho Macho Man, who ran sixth in the Preakness after showing a shoe, is also back with the well-discussed sentimental story backing him. If he wins, it'll be the first time since 1975 that we've had three different winners in the Derby, Preakness and Belmont, each of which ran in all three races. It's a testament to this field and the connections that they're giving their horses a chance to run.
Master of Hounds, Santiva and Brilliant Speed, fifth, sixth and seventh in the 137th Kentucky Derby, all should love the longer distance and were closing fast at the end.
It's shaping up to be a very competitive race both at the betting windows and on the track.
Even though there is no Triple Crown chance, it'll be as exciting as ever.
Profiles of all 12 contenders on the next 12 pages. The post position draw was this morning, so the horses are ordered from inside to outside with the official morning line listed for each horse.
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