The horse racing world will not be able to celebrate a Triple Crown winner at Belmont Park Saturday, but a 10-horse field in the Belmont Stakes should give the sport a captivating race.
Justify went into the Belmont Stakes a year ago with a chance to run into the history books. After winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, he did not miss his opportunity and won the Triple Crown by putting his nose across the wire in first place at the 1½-mile Belmont Park race.
That won't happen this year, something that has been known since Kentucky Derby awarded winner Country House did not even enter the Preakness Stakes.
Country House is also skipping the Belmont Stakes, but Preakness winner War of Will is set to compete and is starting from the No. 9 post. That horse had raced from the No. 1 post position in the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness.
Belmont Stakes Information
Date: Saturday, June 8
Post Time: 6:48 p.m. ET
Live Stream: NBC Sports Live
Here's how the horses will line up for the Test of Champions after Tuesday's post draw:
1 Joevia, 30-1
2 Everfast, 12-1
3 Master Fencer, 8-1
4 Tax, 15-1
5 Bourbon War, 12-1
6 Spinoff, 15-1
7 Sir Winston, 12-1
8 Intrepid Heart, 10-1
9 War of Will, 2-1
10 Tacitus, 9-5
Odds courtesy of Bloodhorse.com
Several Kentucky Derby horses that skipped the Preakness will be running in the Belmont Stakes.
Those horses include Tacitus, Master Fencer, Spinoff and Tax. Tacitus, the awarded third-place finisher in the Derby, is a slight favorite over War of Will, while Master Fencer earned some respect with his late run in the Run for the Roses that gave him sixth place. Spinoff did not like the sloppy track and finished 18th in Kentucky, while Tax was an unimpressive 14th in the Derby.
Tacitus is the son of Tapit, and he has the breeding to handle the 1½-mile distance. He will be ridden by Jose Ortiz and is trained by William Mott.
The trainer does not believe an outside post position is a problem in a long race like the Belmont Stakes.
"I feel the field will spread out. It won't bunch up like a turf race," Mott said, per Bob Ehalt of Bloodhorse.com. "You hope it allows everyone to move in and get a decent trip around the first turn. Nobody wants to be 10-wide on the first turn, but you would have to think there's a certain amount of speed that will spread things out."
War of Will figures to be a serious challenger to Tacitus after winning the Preakness Stakes. Trainer Mark Casse and rider Tyler Gaffalione have a chance to come away from the Triple Crown races with two of the three jewels if they can put together another winning effort. War of Will is the only Belmont runner who will have participated in all three Triple Crown races.
He was involved in the controversy that resulted when Maximum Security was disqualified from the Kentucky Derby after finishing the race in first place. While Maximum Security has not run since the Derby, War of Will is looked at as something of a warrior because his connections chose to run him in all three races, per Gentry Estes of the Louisville Courier Journal.
Master Fencer was an outsider at the Kentucky Derby, but his strong run at Churchill Downs opened eyes to his talent in the horse racing world. Master Fencer took advantage of his invitation to run at Churchill Downs after three other Japanese horses declined the invitation.
Everfast finished second to War of Will in the Preakness, and he should have an excellent chance to make a strong showing as he runs from the No. 2 post position. Everfast is trained by Dale L. Romans and ridden by jockey Luis Saez.
Saez rode Maximum Security in the Kentucky Derby, and he has served a two-week suspension that resulted from that race.