Forte, Tapit Trice head nine-horse Belmont Stakes

June 6th, 2023

Four-time Belmont (G1) winner Todd Pletcher holds a strong hand in Saturday’s 155th running of the $1.5 million Belmont, the final leg of the American Triple Crown. The Hall of Fame trainer is responsible for the top two choices on the morning line, Forte and Tapit Trice, in the nine-horse field.

Listed at 5-2, Forte carries the favorite’s mantle in his first start since capturing the Florida Derby (G1) on April 1. The 10-week absence wasn’t scripted, as a foot issue forced the champion two-year-old male to scratch from the Kentucky Derby (G1) as the morning line favorite, and Forte was flattered when Florida Derby runner-up Mage recorded a one-length win under the Twin Spires.

The son of Violence will stretch out to 1 1/2 miles with a five-race win streak in tow, registering a Belmont field-best 103 Brisnet Speed rating for a convincing triumph in the Fountain of Youth (G2) two back, and Forte will retain the services of leading rider and two-time Belmont winner Irad Ortiz Jr.

Tapit Trice comes next at 3-1. A rallying winner of the Blue Grass (G1) and Tampa Bay Derby (G3), Tapit Trice didn’t fire his best effort at Churchill Downs after a typical slow start, offering a belated run for seventh after lagging nearly 20 lengths off the pace, and the gray colt is eligible to race closer to a projected moderate pace and appreciate the sweeping turns at Belmont Park. Tapit Trice will seek to provide sire Tapit with a fifth Belmont winner, and he’ll be rolling late with Luis Saez.

Arkansas Derby (G1) hero Angel of Empire, third as the favorite in the Kentucky Derby, leads three runners for Brad Cox. Flavien Prat will be back up on the late runner, the early 7-2 third choice. Grade 3 winner Hit Show got caught chasing a wickedly fast pace in the Kentucky Derby, but held commendably to finish fifth. He’s intriguing at 10-1 on the morning line. Tapit Shoes, a 20-1 outsider following a runner-up in a listed stakes, completes the Cox contingent.

Preakness (G1) winner National Treasure, who may be setting the pace once again in the Belmont, was pegged at 5-1. Peter Pan (G3) winner Arcangelo is also single digits at 8-1. Preakness fourth Red Route One (15-1) and last-out allowance winner Il Miracolo (30-1) round out the field.