Analyzing the Belmont Stakes Contenders
The Belmont Stakes is the oldest of the Triple Crown races, and at 1 1/2 miles on the dirt, is a dinosaur with so few main track events carded at twelve furlongs these days. With the short five week span for three gruelling races under scale weight of 126 pounds over three very different tracks and three different distances, it takes a very special horse sweep the series. So much so that only 13 horses have completed the task, including Justify one year ago.
Thanks to injuries, poor performance in preps, or just plain lack of ability at the distance, the Belmont often gets a short field of horses, even if the race is wide open with no Triple Crown on the line and no obvious standout. While traffic trouble, a major issue in the Kentucky Derby, shouldn’t be as much of an issue here, once again 3-year-olds are being asked to do something they’ve never done and conditioning will be key. In addition Belmont Park’s huge 1 1/2 mile oval will be unfamiliar to most horses so we favor those which have had a sharp past race over it. Note that although the Belmont oval is much larger than those at Churchill and Pimlico, given the placement of the winning post it has a shorter home stretch. Major factors which separate the likely winners of the Belmont are weighed out in this analysis, as we did for the Derby and Preakness fields.
Like the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, we have compiled some of the more profitable angles used to select a Belmont Stakes winner in recent years, and applied them to the possible entrants. Some novice horseplayers mistakenly believe a long race immediately favors closers when in fact the Belmont favors stalkers, so we prefer horses labeled “E/P” or “P” in BRIS past performances (by comparison “E” types are confirmed front-runners while “S” are deep closers). As well, the 4.00 Dosage Index angle is stronger in the Belmont than in the Derby where it’s mostly used; here, we set the upper limit on Dosage at 3.00 and Center of Distribution at 0.8.
The Belmont favors horses who have zero points in the Solid and Professional wings of their dosage profiles, which is counterintuitive as you’d expect to see indicators of stamina for the gruelling 12 furlong trip, but “double zero” horses get an extra point. As we have for the Derby and Preakness, horses that are tied in points will be listed in alphabetical order. It is worth noting that no horse scored the maximum possible score; each has his share of knocks, as is explained below. You can view the past performances of these horses free here from BRISnet.
Where there is a tie in points we will list the horses in alphabetical order. The first two horses were a tie:
Sir Winston is one of the latecomers to the Triple Crown wars and based on our analysis, he belongs in the Belmont. However, unlike the Derby and Preakness analyses, no horse came close to “sweeping” the factors; every horse here failed to satisfy at least 6 of the 15 factors we used, so there is no “shoo in” or “lock”. Sir Winston comes to the Belmont off a 2nd place finish in the Peter Pan, the local prep for the Belmont, earning him a sharp prep as well as a sharp race over the Belmont track. He has raced 4 times this year, which is within our preferred range, is racing off a 4 week layoff (which is the maximum), his 101 BRIS figure in the Peter Pan meets the par requirement of 100 and was a new career top, and he satisfies all three Dosage requirements. Among the negatives, he tends to rally from off the pace, he skipped both Derby and Preakness, has not won a stakes this year, and has too many starts as a juvenile with 5 (the target range is a narrow 1-3 starts).
Tacitus is one of several who raced in the Derby (where he finished 4th but placed 3rd, a sharp prep) and skipped the Preakness. His 103 speed figure when he won the Wood Memorial is the top route figure earned by this field (so he and another horse each earned a point there), and his career debut qualifies as a sharp race at Belmont Park, a close 4th (sharp is defined as in the money or within 4 lengths of the winner, note that he was only beaten 3 1/4 lengths in the Derby). He generally stalks the pace, and has met the speed figure par. However, on Dosage his index is 3.31, just above the 3.0 cutoff, and he lacks the “double zero” but does qualify on center of distribution (every horse qualified on this factor). As well he he coming off a 5 week layoff and does not have enough starts this year with just 3.
The next 2 horses tied in points and are listed alphabetically:
Tax like Tacitus comes here from the Wood and Derby, bypassing the Preakness, and can stalk the pace. He qualifies on Dosage other than the double zero factor, and finishing 15th in the Derby 15 lengths behind was not a sharp prep. He also had the 103 top fig. On the downsides he skipped the Preakness, is short on race experience this year, and regressed in the Derby (we prefer a new career best figure last out). He also has never raced over the 1 1/2 mile oval at Belmont Park.
War of Will comes here off his Preakness win after his 8th place finish (moved up to 7th) in the Derby due to interference from Maximum Security. This earns him a sharp prep inside 4 weeks and 5 starts this year, well within the preferred range. His dosage index and center of distribution are also in range, but he lacks the double zero, his Preakness win was not a career best, nor has he ever run a triple digit speed figure (his best was a 96 winning the Risen Star, while his Preakness rated 95). In addition the Mark Casse trainee will be making his Belmont Park debut on Saturday.
The next 2 horses tied in points and are listed alphabetically:
Intrepid Heart has the least experience in the field with just 3 starts, all ths year and non in Triple Crown company, and no stakes wins. Despite these obvious negatives, he rated quite highly because he meets several other factors. He comes here off a 3rd place finish in the Peter Pan, giving him a sharp prep 4 weeks out as well as a sharp race over Belmont Park, and the 96 BRIS figure he earned that day was a new career top. He lacks the double-zero, has never run a 100+ figure, and with no starts last year and just 3 this year, did not meet either range.
Joevia is another new shooter in the Triple Crown war much like Intrepid Heart, but earned his points on a much different set of factors. He has enough starts at 2 and 3, had a sharp prep 4 weeks out and a stakes win this year (the Long Branch Stakes at Monmouth). On dosage he has the double zero and a center of distribution under 0.8. However his index of 3.80 does not meet the 3.00 par, his best figure was a 99 earned in February (so the 97 at Monmouth was not a new top), he is a confirmed front-runner likely to set the pace, and he has never raced at Belmont.
The next 3 horses tied in points and are listed alphabetically:
Bourbon War is a late addition to the Belmont field but did race in the Preakness where he finished a distant 8th, clearly not a sharp prep, with the 85 figure earned there not meeting par nor a career best. He still lacks a stakes win, has never run a 100+ figure, and has never raced at Belmont, despite being stabled there. He is also a deep closer which is not preferable in the Belmont despite the distance. He does have enough starts at 2 and 3 and his dosage index qualifies, but he lacks the double zero.
Everfast was the surprise runner-up in the Preakness at 29-1 odds, so he is coming here off a sharp prep inside 4 weeks and has Trple Crown experience. He has 6 starts this year, just at the upper limit, but raced 5 times last year, which is more than the maximum. The 94 BRIS figure earned at Pimlico matched his career best so was not a new top nor has he run a 100+ figure so far. He may have the double zero but is dosage index of 3.67 is above the limit.
Spinoff finished 18th in the Derby then skipped the Preakness, so he did not have a sharp prep and the 80 BRIS figure earned at Churchill is not a career top. He did make enough starts at 2 but his 3 starts this year is just short of the preferred range of 4-6. He did qualify on all three dosage factors, and he did meet the speed figure par when he ran a 102 in the Louisiana Derby. He usually races on or close to the lead rather than stalk, he does not have any stakes wins, and not only was his Derby a poor effort it is 5 weeks back.
Master Fencer placed last in our analysis. The Japanese invader to the Triple Crown remained at Keeneland after he finished 7th in the Derby, clearly not a sharp prep and 5 weeks out. He tends to close from off the pace, has never run a 100+ figure lifetime, still lacks a stakes win this year (he started 2019 with an allowance win), and the 95 he earned at Churchill wasn’t a career best. His dosage index passes, but he lacks the double zero.
2019 Triple Crown quick links:
- Belmont Stakes Entries – A field of 10 was entered for the 151st Belmont Stakes with Tacitus the 9-5 morning line favorite in post 9 and second choice War of Will next door in post 10. Get the entries, post positions, and free past performances here.
- Free Past Performances – for the Belmont probables from BRISnet.com
- Belmont Weather Forecasts – please no more rain!
- Belmont Stakes June 4 Photos – Preakness winner War of Will had his first gallop at Belmont Park Tuesday morning after schooling in the paddock. Check out photos here.
- Belmont Stakes June 3 Photos – Preakness winner War of Will arrived at Belmont Park early Monday morning. Later in the morning, Bourbon War and Sir Winston both had gallops. Check out photos of each here.
- Belmont Stakes June 1 Photos – Three of the Belmont Stakes contenders had timed works this morning at Belmont Park with Intrepid Heart going 5f in 1:00.92, Spinoff going 5f in 1:02.16, and Tax going 4f in 49.03. Check out photos of each here plus bonus Met Mile horses.
- Belmont Stakes May 29 Photos – Four of the Belmont Stakes contenders were out on the track this morning at Belmont Park with Master Fencer breezing 5 furlong in 1:01.48 plus Intrepid Heart, Spinoff, and Tacitus galloping. Check out photos of each here.
- Miscellaneous Preakness Photos – 21 more photos from Preakness day including Diplo parachuting in for his concert, the trophy being carried to the winner’s circle, the Clydesdales, and more.
- Preakness Undercard Stakes Results There were 8 other stakes on Preakness day headlined by the Dixie Stakes (G2) won by Catholic Boy, the Chick Lang Stakes (G3) won by Lexitonian, the Maryland Sprint Stakes (G3) won by New York Central, and the Gallorette (G3) won by Mitchell Road. Get the results, charts, and photos for all 8 races here.
- War of Will wins the Preakness (G1) – War of Will stalked the pace then found room on the inside to win the 144th Preakness Stakes (G1) by 1 1/4 lengths over longshot Everfast with Owendale third, giving jockey Tyler Gaffalione, trainer Mark Casse, and owner Gary Barber their first Triple Crown wins. Get the results, chart, and photos here.
- Black-Eyed Susan Day Results – Point of Honor ran down Ulele and Cookie Dough to win the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (G2) at Pimlico on Friday. There were 6 other stakes on the card including the Pimlico Special (G3) won by Tenfold, the Allaire Dupont Distaff (G3) won by Mylady Curlin, and the Miss Preakness Stakes (G3) won by Covfefe. Get the results, charts, and photos for all 7 races here.
- 2019 Preakness Entries – A field of 13 was entered today for the 144th running of the Preakness Stakes (G1) with Improbable in post 4 the morning line favorite at 5-2. Check out the horses, post positions, odds, and free past performances here.
- Free Past Performances – for the Preakness from BrisNet
- 2019 Alibi Breakfast – The traditional Alibi Breakfast was held on Thursday May 16, before the 144th running of the Preakness Stakes. Connections of some of the 13 Preakness entrants were on hand to swap stories about their horse as well as watch the presentation of the annual awards.
- Thursday Preakness Photos – Photos and comments for 12 of the Preakness horses from Thursday morning with everyone on the track except Alwaysmining and Win Win Win who arrived late in the morning.
- Wednesday Preakness Photos – Photos and comments for 10 of the Preakness horses from Wednesday morning and afternoon at Pimlico, including Improbable arriving at the track.
- Tuesday Preakness Photos – Photos and comments for four of the Preakness horses from Tuesday afternoon at Pimlico, including War of Will, Market King, Bodexpress, and Signalman who arrived at the track today plus bonus pic of the Budweiser Clydesdales.
- Preakness Weather Forecasts – What will the weather be for the Preakness? Check out several sources here. Currently looking pretty good with no rain unlike last year.
- Analyzing the top Preakness Contenders – Our annual analysis of the contenders to see who best matches the profile of a Preakness winner. Not many Derby horses are making the trip to Baltimore, but it is one of them that gets top pick.
- Country House wins the 2019 Kentucky Derby (G1) via disqualification – Maximum Security crossed the finish line first, but was disqualified to 17th a muddy Kentucky Derby (G1) giving the win to long shot Country House with Code of Honor 2nd and Tacitus 3rd. Get the results, chart, and photos here.
- Kentucky Derby Undercard Stakes Results – There were 6 other stakes on the card today with the Derby, including the Old Forester Turf Classic (G1) won by Bricks and Mortar, the Humana Distaff (G1) won by Mia Mischief, the Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (G2) won by Beau Recall, the Churchill Downs Stakes (G1) won by Mitole, the American Turf (G2) won by Digital Age, and the Pat Day Mile (G3) won by Mr. Money. Get the results, charts, and photos here.
- Serengeti Empress rules in the 2019 Kentucky Oaks (G1) – Serengeti Empress went to the front and never looked back, winning the 2019 Kentucky Oaks (G1) by 1 3/4 lengths over late closing longshot Liora with Lady Apple third. Favorite Bellafina finished fifth. Get the results, chart, and photos here.
- Kentucky Oaks Undercard Stakes Results – There were 5 other stakes on the card today with the Oaks, including the La Troienne (G1) won by She’s a Julie, the Alysheba (G2) won by McKinzie, the Eight Belles (G2) won by Break Even, the Twin Spires Turf Sprint (G3) won by World of Trouble, and the Edgewood Stakes (G3) won by Concrete Rose. Get the results, charts, and photos here.
- Thursday Kentucky Derby Photos – Thursday morning at Churchill Downs wasn’t as crowded, perhaps because of the rain overnight. Not all the Derby horses and Oaks fillies were out this morning, with Haikal being treated for a foot abcess. Check out photos for 18 Derby horses and 12 Oaks fillies with comments.
- Kentucky Derby Entries – Tuesday morning entries closed for the 145th Kentucky Derby with a full field of 20 plus one also-eligible. Morning line favorite is now Game Winner at 9-2 after the scratch of Omaha Beach. Get the horses, morning line odds, free past performances, and lots more info here.
- Wednesday Kentucky Derby Photos – Wednesday morning at Churchill Downs was even more crowded on the backside with Derby fans now that all the Derby and Oaks horses are on the grounds. All 21 Derby horses and 15 Oaks fillies were out this morning, including the new arrivals. Update: As of 6:30pm, Omaha Beach will be scratched due to an entrapped epiglottis! Check out photos for each with comments.
- Tuesday Kentucky Derby Photos – Tuesday was my first morning at Churchill Downs and the backside was more crowded than usual with Derby fans to see the horses at 7:30am. 14 Derby horses and 14 Oaks fillies were out this morning, including Derby favorite Omaha Beach and Oaks favorite Bellafina. Check out photos for each with comments.
- 2019 Kentucky Oaks Entries – A full field of 14 with 2 also-eligibles was drawn for the 145th Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1) to be run on Friday at Churchill Downs. Santa Anita Oaks (G1) winner Bellafina is the 2-1 morning line favorite from post 4. Get all the horses, posts, and free past performances here.
- 2019 Kentucky Derby Analysis – Our annual analysis of the top contenders to try and select a winner by matching each to the profile of a Kentucky Derby winner using many of the more popular angles and statistical trends. This year it is a pretty wide open field and the order shows that.
- Kentucky Derby Notes for 4/29 – Monday morning was still cold but not as gloomy at Churchill Downs and only one Derby horse, Long Range Toddy, and one Oaks filly, Restless Rider, had timed works. Shortly after noon, Bellafina arrived from California. Check out comments and photos for the Derby and Oaks horses, free past performances, probable starters for the rest of the Derby weekend stakes, and more. Previous: 04/20, 04/21, 04/22, 04/23, 04/24, 04/25, 04/26, 04/27, 04/28
- Free past performances – for the top Derby points earning horses
- Derby Weather Forecasts – up to 15 days in advance
- Kentucky Derby Points List – this is what determines which horses can get in the Kentucky Derby field.
- Triple Crown Trail – 2019 prep race schedule with results for all the races.
- Kentucky Derby Tickets – See what is for sale on Ebay. Includes tickets and parking.
- 2019 Kentucky Derby And Oaks Security – New enhanced stricter rules with no onsite parking were enforced in 2018, and are in effect again this year. Be sure to read the rules if you are attending. There will still be magnetic wand searches of all patrons and many things are no longer allowed. Check here to make sure you don’t bring anything they will confiscate.
- Kentucky Derby Future Wager – This year there are 4 pools starting in November of 2019 plus a single pool for the Oaks.
- Kentucky Derby Prep Races – What races should a horse prep in to win the Kentucky Derby? Some races may seem obvious, but have not produced a Derby winner in many years. Find out which races are the best preps here.
- Kentucky Derby Winners and Auction Prices – Bigger may seem better, but in the case of Kentucky Derby horses who sold at auction, less is more. Here is a look at how (badly) high priced auction purchases have done in the Kentucky Derby and the auction prices for this year’s top Derby contenders.
- Review: Triple Crown Handicapper 2019 – by Jim Mazur. Includes lots of stats for all 3 races and explains how to use a system of statistically derived negative angles to eliminate the “bad” picks. Revamped for 2019 with updated info.
- Derby prep race charts – free from DRF
- 2019 Triple Crown Nominations – 369 horses were nominated by the January early deadline.
- Kentucky Derby Traditions – Find out all about the big Derby Traditions: the rose garland, the trophy, the Twin Spires, mint juleps, singing “My Old Kentucy Home”, fancy hats, celebrities and the annual Derby glasses.
- Fillies in the Kentucky Derby – a look at the 39 fillies who have contested the Run for the Roses and how they did. So far there have been 3 wins, 2 seconds, and 5 thirds.
- Kentucky Derby official site – lots of good info and the latest news here
- Louisville Courier Journal coverage – one of your best news sources for the Derby
- Blood Horse Triple Crown Mania – lots of good info here
- DRF Kentucky Derby Special – Lots of good info like past winners preps, contenders, past performances, and latest news.
- Review: Kentucky Derby Greatest Moments – Commemorative DVD from Churchill Downs with video from 27 different runnings along with interviews, photos, and historical info. Definitely recommended for any racing fan!
- Review: Churchill Downs – America’s Most Historic Racetrack by Kimberly Gatto. An entertaining and informative account of the history of the track and it’s most famous race, the Kentucky Derby, with lots of photos. Definitely recommended.
- Review: Kentucky Derby Glasses Price Guide – A Comprehensive Guide to Collecting Kentucky Derby Mint Julep Glasses and Shot Glasses edited by Judy Marchman
- Triple Crown Trivia Quiz – test your knowledge of the Derby, Preakness, and Belmont and compete with others.
- Buy advance tickets for the Derby and Oaks – from Churchill Downs and save $5 over the gate price on general admission
- Triple Crown Index – the master list with even more info
- Triple Crown Trivia Quiz – test your knowledge of the Derby, Preakness, and Belmont and compete with others.
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