2017 Belmont Stakes Contenders

The 149th running of the Belmont Stakes will take place on June 10, 2017 at Belmont Park in Elmwood, New York. The race is the final leg of the Triple Crown and is limited to 16 starters who’ll race on Belmont’s dirt track for a distance of a mile and a half.   In recent years, the Belmont has been the site of the biggest stories in racing.  In 2014, California Chrome took a shot at becoming the 12th Triple Crown winner in history but fell short in his quest.  That set the stage for 2015 when American Pharoah sealed the deal and joined horse racing’s immortals as a Triple Crown winner.

The big story this year is likely who won’t be running in the race.  Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming and Preakness winner Cloud Computing are passing on the Belmont Stakes.  The flip side of this situation is that it should be a wide open race which could mean a big payday with an underdog winner.

The contender field will be finalized on Wednesday, June 7.  Once the field is finalized the post positions for the Belmont will be assigned and morning line odds set.  Below is a rundown of likely entrants—check back often for updates:

–Conquest Mo Money:  Didn’t run in the Kentucky Derby, finished 7th in the Preakness.  Had a decent Derby prep campaign with second place finishes in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby and Grade 2 Sunland Derby.  Trained by Miguel Hernandez with jockey Jorge Carreno likely to be aboard.  Most observers think that Conquest Mo Money could be a decent horse at a lower level of racing but is in over his head here.

–Epicharis:  What do you say about a Japanese horse with two career races, neither of which were in the United States?  He broke his maiden in February at the Hyacinth Stakes in Tokyo but looked solid in a second place run at the Grade 2 UAE Derby at Meydan Race Course in Dubai.  Was under consideration for the Preakness but his connections ultimately passed.  Very much a question mark that has a strong contingent of railbirds expressing enthusiasm.  Depending on the price, might be worth using on exotics.  Trained by Kiyoshi Hagiwara with jockey assignment unknown.

–Gormley: Ran out of gas in the Kentucky Derby at 1 ¼ mile but his connections used the weather and muddy track as a rationalization. Won the Santa Anita Derby from off the pace though far from a decisive win.  Prevailed by ½ length turning in a mediocre 88 Beyer.  Solid trainer in John Shirreffs and an excellent jockey in Victor Espinoza.  Plenty of questions about the decision to run him here.  With his stamina already in question hard to see the sense in running him at a longer distance.

–Irap:  Won the Blue Grass Stakes in a mild upset.  Unimpressive in the Sunland Derby.  The ‘glass half full’ view was that he’d shown improvement every time out.  The ‘glass half empty’ view is that he’s faced overmatched opponents his entire career.  The latter might be the reality after he laid an egg in the Kentucky Derby finishing 18th. Trainer Doug O’Neill, jockey Mario Gutierrez.   Same handicap as for the Kentucky Derby–hard to see him stepping up in competitive class successfully.  This is particularly true at a longer distance.

–J Boys Echo:  Had never finished lower than 4th in his career until a 15th in the Kentucky Derby.  Weather and track conditions may have been a factor. This Dale Romans trained entry remains something of a question mark. Got a perfect pace in his first career win in the Grade 3 Gotham turning in a 102 Beyer in the process.  Got a terrible pace in the Grade 2 Blue Grass finishing fourth against weak competition.  Jockey Luis Saez.

–Lookin at Lee: A lot of ‘wise guys’ were big on Lookin at Lee heading into the Kentucky Derby and their support was validated with a 2nd place finish at 20-1 odds.  Followed that up with a 4th place run in the Preakness. Trained by Steve Asmussen, jockey Corie Lanerie.  This could be a perfect spot for him to win.  The pace should be to his liking and everything suggests that he’ll handle the distance well.

–Meantime: Finished second in his stakes debut on this track in the Grade 3 Peter Pan back in May.  Broke his maiden in his previous race, a Maiden Special Weight at Keeneland and finished 2nd in his career debut.  A lot to like about this horse who is a powerful speedster but the usual question remains—is he ready for this level of competition after 3 races?  Bryan Lynch is the trainer, Jose Ortiz the likely jockey.

–Multiplier:  This Brendan Walsh trained horse has a lot of fans despite a sixth place finish in the Preakness.  Career mirrors so many in the modern three year old scene where connections favor racing lightly early in his career.  Finished third in his career debut, a MSW at Fair Grounds before winning his first shot in a stakes race as the took the Grade 3 Illinois Derby.  Joel Rosario is the jockey.  So many horses enter this race not ready for the competitive class but Multiplier isn’t one of them.  Should be a decent bet at significant odds.

–Patch:  The one-eyed horse that became a media darling in the run-up to the Kentucky Derby where he finished 14th.  Second in the Louisiana Derby with a win in his career debut.  He has talent but is very raw.  He’s a media sensation as he only has one eye—the other eye was removed after an ulcer failed to heal properly.  Got a bad draw and bad trip in the Derby and the likely pace in the Belmont should help him. Jockey Tyler Gaffalione for trainer Todd Pletcher.

–Senior Investment:  Strong closing horse that finished third in the Preakness after a ho-hum three year old season up until that point.  Won the Grade 3 Lexington at Keeneland but finished 6th in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby two weeks earlier.  Very strong closing fractions in the Preakness have given his supporters hope that this is a perfect spot for him.  Needs a dry track to be successful.  Trainer Ken McPeek with jockey Channing Hill.

–Tapwrit:  Improving horse finished sixth in the Kentucky Derby after a fifth place run in the Blue Grass Stakes.  Needs a good trip to be successful but hasn’t found it the last time out.  Won the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby earlier this year, second in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis and a winner in the Pulpit Stakes.   in the Blue Grass. He’s shown improvement every time out and has solid connections with trainer Todd Pletcher.  Jose Ortiz was aboard in the Kentucky Derby but he might take the mount on Meantime here.

–Twisted Tom:  Original plan was to run him in the May 29 Commentator Handicap at Belmont but his connections are pleased after two straight wins at Laurel to start his three year old career.  That likely motivated the decision to take a shot at this race.  Could be a horse that is capable of stepping up in class.