The countdown to the third jewel of the Triple Crown is down to its final hours as 10 of the best three-year-old thoroughbreds are getting set to run in the 1½-mile Belmont Stakes.
The race is known as the Test of Champions because the distance takes its toll on all but the best horses, and it shows when they nearly come to a near-stop in the stretch.
On those occasions, fans in the stands can almost feel the horse's pain as each breath sears the lungs of the equine athlete.
The race can be especially difficult when it is run in extreme heat, but that is not expected to be the case in this year's event. The Weather Channel is predicting temperatures in the 58-to-80 degree Fahrenheit range with zero percent chance of precipitation under mostly cloudy skies.
Two horses appear to have the biggest edge on the field. They are Tacitus and War of Will, who will be starting from the two outside gates.
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, 14-1, $30
3. Master Fencer, 11-1, $24
4. Tax, 10-1, $22
5. Bourbon War, 8-1, $18
6. Spinoff, 12-1, $26
7. Sir Winston, 8-1, $18
8. Intrepid Heart, 6-1, $14
9. War of Will, 4-1, $10
10. Tacitus, 5-2, $7
Odds courtesy of BelmontStakes.com
Tacitus has won three of the five races he has entered, and he appears to be well suited to handle the challenge of the Belmont Stakes.
That's because he is the son of Tapit, a sire who has already produced three Belmont Stakes winners. Tacitus engages the field, and when he reaches the half-way or three-quarters point of most races, he turns it on and starts grinding down the field and passing runners
Tacitus will be ridden by Jose Ortiz, who knows how to handle his mount and has the patience to wait long enough before making his moves. Ortiz has four previous starts in the Belmont Stakes and won the race in 2017 with Tapwrit.
War of Will is coming off a winning performance in the Preakness Stakes, and he served notice on this year's class of three-year-olds that he may be the best of the bunch.
He was competitive in the Kentucky Derby before he was involved in the incident that resulted in the disqualification of first-place finisher Maximum Securit. He then took charge in the Preakness, and if the grind of the Triple Crown season doesn't fatigue him in the Belmont Stakes, he should be involved in a fight for the win.
Mark Casse trains this horse, and Tyler Gaffalione will ride him. The jockey showed his ability in both the Derby and the Preakness, but he has never ridden in the Belmont Stakes before and could tire before the finish line.
Intrepid Heart comes into the Belmont Stakes as the most lightly raced competitor. He has been to the post just three times, and he has been victorious twice. The one loss came in the Peter Pan Handicap when he had a poor start but ran well at the end to finish third.
Trainer Todd Pletcher should have this horse prepared to run a solid race, while John Velazquez is about to set a record with his 23rd mount in the Belmont Stakes. Velazquez is a two-time winner of the race with Rags to Riches (2007) and Union Rags (2012).
Sir Winston also has the ability to make a run at the Belmont. He has been to the post nine times with two victories along with second- and third-place finishes.
He was also strong in the Peter Pan, coming from last place to finish second. Jockey Joel Rosario is making his eighth start in this race, and he has one win to his credit when he piloted Tonalist in 2014.
Bourbon War did not run well in the Preakness as the second choice in the race, but trainer Mark Hennig has given the mount to veteran jockey Mike Smith, who is one of the best race riders in the country.
Smith has 20 previous Belmont Stakes mounts, and he has won the race three times. His most famous triumph came last year when he rode Justify to the Triple Crown.
Tacitus appears to be ready for a strong run in the Belmont Stakes, and his breeding should allow him to be at his best in the last 600 yards. Look for Tacitus to pass tiring rivals and win the race.
War of Will is also a powerful horse, but he has been raced hard during the Triple Crown season. He will have the lead at some point in the stretch, but he will not be able to hold off Tacitus. War of Will settles for second place.
After his poor effort in the Preakness, Smith will bring out the best in Bourbon War. He finishes third, edging out Sir Winston.
Order of finish
2. War of Will
3. Bourbon War
4. Sir Winston