Belmont Stakes 2019 Contenders: Tacitus and More FavoritesJune 7, 2019
After finishing third at the Kentucky Derby, Tacitus enters the 2019 Belmont Stakes as the favorite for the 151st running of the race.
The three-year-old did not compete in the Preakness Stakes, instead traveling from Churchill Downs to Belmont Park in Elmont, New York, to prepare for the final jewel of the Triple Crown series.
However, the Bill Mott-trained colt is expected to face tough competition from War of Will, the 2019 Preakness winner.
The horses will be alongside each other in the starting gates, with War of Will in the No. 9 post and Tacitus in 10. And if the odds remain true, they'll be battling for Belmont glory on the homestretch.
Prior to a third-place finish at the Derby, Tacitus had won three straight races―including two in 2019. He won the Tampa Bay Derby and Wood Memorial Stakes, where he held off fellow Belmont competitor Tax for the victory.
During that April race in Queens, New York, both horses rallied to overtake Not That Brady and Joevia―the Belmont's longest longshot, incidentally―on the final turn.
Tacitus had sprinted from eight lengths down and wound up with a 1 1⁄4-length win, pulling ahead of Tax late.
He made a similar charge at the Kentucky Derby, sitting back in the field before running a spirited final 100 yards on the outside. He is a closer, and that style may be ideal for the 1 ½-mile track as long as he stays within reach on the backstretch.
Otherwise, War of Will might earn a second jewel.
The Preakness winner started on the rail at Churchill Downs and Pimlico but is basically on the opposite side at Belmont Park. It's a welcome change for trainer Mark Casse.
"There were probably no bad posts, but there were some that were better than others, and we got one of them—especially for our horse," Casse said, per Bob Ehalt of BloodHorse. "He's going to be allowed to position himself a little better from the outside."
Distance is the main concern for War of Will, especially since he's the only horse who ran both previous Triple Crown races. If the energy is there, though, War of Will will be a top contender.
Behind the duo, Intrepid Heart is perhaps the most intriguing horse in his first Triple Crown race. According to Christie DeBernardis of the Thoroughbred Daily News, owner Robert Low said winning the Belmont Stakes was always the goal:
"We really admired his breeding. Being a Tapit out of a Touch Gold mare, he has Belmont written all over his pedigree. With him kind of coming to hand late, it was too late for the Derby and Preakness, but perfect for the Belmont. We have been thinking Belmont from the day we bought him."
Set to have Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez in the irons, Intrepid Heart currently holds the fourth-best odds for the race.
Follow Bleacher Report writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR