Meet the Contenders Study Guide of Belmont Stakes 2023
Meet the horses running in the 2023 Belmont Stakes over 1 1/2 miles at Belmont Park on June 9. For each horse, we're listing a pro, a con, and a rating of potential. The star rating of 1 to 5 represents opportunity to perform well in the Belmont Stakes
#1 ANGEL OF EMPIRE *****
Pro: Strong form all season; credible third in Kentucky Derby (G1) as lukewarm favorite.
Con: Might encounter a slower pace than he’s used to seeing in this longer event.
#2 ARCANGELO ***
Pro: Rapid improver won Peter Pan (G3) stretch duel in gutsy fashion.
Con: Faces a much sterner class test against these opponents.
#3 FORTE ****
Pro: Arguably still at the head of the class with two early-season wins over Mage.
Con: No Belmont (G1) winner in living memory has succeeded off of a 10-week layoff or longer.
#4 HIT SHOW ***
Pro: Decent fifth in Kentucky Derby, and extra two furlongs unlikely to prove a hindrance.
Con: Has several lengths to make up on more accomplished stablemate Angel of Empire.
#5 IL MIRACOLO *
Pro: Pedigree (Gun Runner out of a Tapit mare) is main selling point.
Con: Well-beaten in all five prior stakes attempts.
#6 NATIONAL TREASURE ***
Pro: Preakness (G1) winner might be in a position to steal another classic.
Con: Pimlico win was one of the slowest in that race in three decades.
#7 RED ROUTE ONE **
Pro: One of several hurt by slow pace in Preakness; capable of better with honest fractions.
Con: Plodders aren’t necessarily more competitive in longer races like this.
#8 TAPIT SHOES **
Pro: Late developer owns pedigree that will serve him well in longer tests like this.
Con: Doesn’t seem classy enough yet to earn more than a minor share.
#9 TAPIT TRICE *****
Pro: Subpar Derby effort not helped by less-than-ideal trip; rebound candidate.
Con: When dust settles, Angel of Empire and/or Forte might simply be a cut above.