Belmont Stakes 2019: Top Contenders and Unheralded Horses in Lineup Field

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistJune 4, 2019

ELMONT, NY - JUNE 09:  Justify #1, ridden by jockey Mike Smith crosses the finish line to win the 150th running of the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park on June 9, 2018 in Elmont, New York. Justify becomes the thirteenth Triple Crown winner and the first since American Pharoah in 2015.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

The final race of the Triple Crown will take place on Saturday, when the 2019 Belmont Stakes gets underway.

War of Will is looking to follow up his victory in the Preakness Stakes with another win in New York, but he will face stiff competition from the likes of Tacitus—who came third in the Kentucky Derbyat Belmont Park.

They're not the only horses who could find themselves in contention at the weekend, though, with less heralded contenders such as Everfast and Intrepid Heart shaping up to be potential challengers.


Top Contenders

Following his victory at the Preakness, War of Will is naturally among the favourites for Belmont at 2-1, per Oddschecker.

His inside charge down the final stretch earned him the victory at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore on May 18:

NBC Sports @NBCSports

Today was the day for War of Will! https://t.co/Qf8ylTY4xe

Churchill Downs' track announcer Travis Stone was impressed with the colt's performance:

Travis Stone @TravisStone

The ride @Tyler_Gaff just delivered on War of Will was phenomenal and worthy of a classic win. Credit to @markecasse and his crew for handling a brutal two months... nearly falling in the LA Derby, far turn trouble in the Derby, the rating tactics... it all paid off!

War of Will only managed seventh in the Kentucky Derby, but he was among those hampered by the disqualified Maximum Security.

The performance at Pimlico showed what he can do, but Tacitus—who did not run in Baltimore—is a high-calibre opponent and favoured heavily at 6-4.

Mike Welsch of the Daily Racing Form has been impressed with Tacitus in his work for Belmont:

Mike Welsch @DRFWelsch

Tacitus the lone Belmont Stake contender to breeze this a.m. at Belmont Park. Never a flashy worker, he looked sharper than ever today, 5F in 25.55 36.16 1:00.20 going easily in co. with Muliplier. Was full of energy going out 3/4's 1:12.75 up 7F in 1:25.10 w/Jose Ortiz up.

The Bill Mott-trained colt finished in the places at Churchill Downs, and he'll be fresher than War of Will after skipping the Preakness, so he'll be the one to beat.


Unheralded Horses

Everfast is 10-1 to win the 151st running of the Belmont Stakes, so while he's not a complete outsider, he's not quite among the favourites either.

The three-year-old hasn't won a race since his debut last year, but his most recent performance was perhaps his most impressive, as he came second to War of Will in the Preakness.

Alicia Wincze-Hughes of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association hailed his showing in Baltimore:

Alicia Wincze Hughes @AHughesNTRA

Lost in the shuffle of War of Will's Preakness triumph was the runner-up effort from longshot Everfast, who closed like a shot. The Dale Romans trainee is expected to be among those marching on to @BelmontStakes

A similarly strong finish in Elmont could put him in contention on Saturday.

At 16-1, Intrepid Heart is among the outsiders, likely due to his lack of racing experience.

The colt has competed in just two races, but he did well in both, winning one and finishing third in the other.

In the former, he won at Keeneland:

Keeneland Racing @keenelandracing

WATCH → (#9) Intrepid Heart comes from behind to take #Race8 from (#3) High Crime and (#4) Frolic More. https://t.co/yQ7fOY48pL

Horse racing expert Ed DeRosa was impressed:

Ed DeRosa @EJXD2

I'm still shook that Intrepid Heart won that race from where he was at the sixteenth pole given somewhat loose leader and short stretch

What will also stand Intrepid Heart in good stead is his trainer, Todd Pletcher.

The 51-year-old has trained three Belmont Stakes winners among his many accomplishments, most recently Tapwrit in 2017.

Having Pletcher as a trainer could make up for the horse's lack of experience, so he will be one to keep an eye on.