The field for the Belmont Stakes will start to take shape over the next week as the connections for horses that ran in the Kentucky Derby and/or The Preakness start to assess their options and formulate their plans. Some of the horses from theses races will continue on to race in the Belmont. Other connections may be playing a ‘waiting game’ to see how the field shapes up before declaring their horses for the race. This is done for competitive reasons—some horses simply ‘match up’ better against other horses – as well as practical reasons. The field is limited to 16 entries and if more horses declare the field is determined by a formula using previous race earnings. If it’s obvious that a horse won’t make the field there’s no reason for its connections to point it toward the race.
At this point only a few horses have declared for the Belmont Stakes. This list will be updated frequently in the weeks leading up to the race:
FREEDOM CHILD: Looked impressive in winning the Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont punching his ticket for the Belmont Stakes. His connections had hoped to run him in the Kentucky Derby but a poor run in the Wood Memorial put the kibosh on those plans. Could play into an interesting storyline if things break right in the Preakness—last November Freedom Child finished second behind Kentucky Derby winner Orb in a maiden race at Aqueduct. Finishing third in that maiden race was Revolutionary, who also finished third in the 2013 Kentucky Derby. All three horses could potentially be in the Belmont Stakes field.
OXBOW: The upset winner of the Preakness Stakes which has transformed this horse from an over-matched also ran to something of an enigma. Trained by venerable D. Wayne Lukas and will be ridden by jockey Gary Stevens. Finished 6th in the Kentucky Derby after being a pacesetter early but faded badly in the stretch. At the Preakness he led throughout leaving the field—including Kentucky Derby winner Orb—in the dust. Will now face a slower pace but longer distance in the Belmont and this could be to his liking.
ORB: Kentucky Derby winner trained by Claude “Shug” McGaughey. A versatile horse who closed strong at the Derby distance of a mile and a quarter. Got a bad trip at Pimlico during the Preakness as he was unable to get off the rail and finished fourth, nine lengths behind Oxbow. No reason to think he can’t handle the Belmont distance and assuming that Joel Rosario can give him a better trip this time he’ll be a contender to win.
PALACE MALACE: A Todd Pletcher trained horse, got a horrible trip in the Louisiana Derby but rebounded in the Blue Grass to earn a Kentucky Derby berth. Underwhelmed at Churchill Downs, finishing 12th. The story now is that the addition of blinkers in the Kentucky Derby hurt his effort. Not much to suggest that he’s got anything for a field of that class. Jockey Mike Smith is a plus.
REVOLUTIONARY: Another Todd Pletcher trained prospect, Revolutionary is coming off a win in the G3 Withers at Aqueduct and a decent third place finish in the Kentucky Derby. Revolutionary’s pedigree—dame Run Up The Colors and sire War Pass—suggest that he should have some stamina but as always the question is will that ‘theoretical’ stamina translate into ‘practical’ ability to handle a mile and a half in the Belmont Stakes?
OVERANALYZE: Todd Pletcher trained, won the Arkansas Derby but against a very soft field. Followed that up with a disappointing 11th in the Kentucky Derby. Most likely a pretender and not a contender.