Belmont Stakes 2019 Horses and Jockeys with Best Chance at Elmont Race

Steve Silverman@@profootballboyFeatured ColumnistJune 7, 2019

Favored Tacitus trains for Saturday's Belmont Stakes in New York.
Favored Tacitus trains for Saturday's Belmont Stakes in New York.Seth Wenig/Associated Press

The Belmont Stakes is a race like no other for three-year-old thoroughbreds in North America. Most races are in the range of six furlongs (¾ mile) to 10 furlongs (1¼ miles), and active competitors often race once per month.

However the Belmont Stakes is a different kind of race, because stamina is an even bigger factor than it is in most races. The horses competing in the third jewel of the Triple Crown are running 1½ miles around the huge Belmont Park oval in Elmont, New York.


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 along with updated odds and the payout for a $2 win bet:

1. Joevia, 17-1, $36 ($34 profit plus return of $2 bet)
2. Everfast, 13-1, $28
3. Master Fencer, 8-1, $18
4. Tax, 13-1, $26
5. Bourbon War, 7-1, $16
6. Spinoff, 13-1, $28
7. Sir Winston, 9-1, $20
8. Intrepid Heart, 6-1, $14
9. War of Will, 5-2, $7
10. Tacitus, 3-2, $5

Odds courtesy of BelmontStakes.com

The two favorites in the Belmont are Tacitus and War of Will, and both horses will have an excellent chance to win this demanding race. However, they are not the only contenders.

Intrepid Heart should have an excellent chance to make his move Saturday, while Bourbon War may also be in contention.

Both Intrepid Heart and Bourbon War come into the race at 12-1. Japanese import Master Fencer is the third choice in the race at 10-1, but it may be difficult for him to make a good run at this distance.

Tacitus enters having won three races and slightly more than $950,000 in his career. He is ridden by Jose Ortiz, who has started in this race four times and won it once. The 25-year-old is a talented jockey, but the best thing this horse has going for him is his breeding. He is the son of Tapit, who has produced three previous Belmont winners. 

Tacitus should be able to bide his time and stay somewhere in the middle of the pack before he starts passing horses in the stretch and makes his bid for the lead.

War of Will is coming off a tremendous victory in the Preakness Stakes, and he hopes to make it two in a row with another sharp effort here.

The colt must show he has the stamina to handle the Belmont Park stretch when the late runners come at him, assuming he has gained the lead. 

That's a key issue since War of Will is the only horse in the field that has competed in the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness. Jockey Tyler Gaffalione needs to give his mount the perfect ride and hope trainer Mark Casse has done his job ahead of the horse's third huge race in a five-week span.

Interpid Heart comes into the Belmont as the most lightly raced horse in the field. In three starts, he has won twice and was third in the other. He is another son of Tapit, and that means he should be able to go the distance. 

The colt is trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by John Velazquez. Pletcher has won the Belmont three times, while Velazquez is on the verge of setting a record in the race. His ride will mark his 23rd start in the Belmont, and that's the more than any jockey. He has won twice with Rags to Riches in 2007 and Union Rags in 2012.

Colonial Downs @ColonialDowns

Jockey John Velazquez and trainer Todd Pletcher won the 2005 Virginia Derby. This pair join forces in the Belmont Stakes this weekend with Intrepid Heart. 🏇 Live racing returns to Colonial Downs on August 8! Details here: https://t.co/vIhCj0fiB3 Photo by @RTDNEWS https://t.co/poOqEwK0TY

America'sBestRacing @ABRLive

#WarOfWill gets a little love from @kimpossibleky14 after his first @BelmontStakes gallop at Belmont Park! #BelmontStakes https://t.co/7jZz9LLnoe

"(Breaking the record) will absolutely be a point of pride for me, especially since New York is my home," Velazquez said, per Paul Volponi of BloodHorse.

Bourbon War has a chance to make his mark in the Belmont and comes into the race with two victories in six races. He was the second favorite in the Preakness, but he finished eighth.

The colt is another son of Tapit, which gives him the chance to show he can handle the distance. He draws jockey Mike Smith, who is clearly one of the best in the nation. He has 20 previous Belmont rides and won it three times. He was aboard Justify last year when he took home the Triple Crown.

If Bourbon War is ready to run, Smith should be able to get the most out of him.


Horse racing information courtesy of Horse Racing Nation, BloodHorse and Daily Racing Form.