Meet the Contenders Study Guide of Belmont Stakes 2023

June 9th, 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


Angel of Empire wins the Arkansas Derby (Photo by Coady Photography)

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.


Arcangelo paddock schooling May 27, 2023 (Photo by Coglianese Photos/WalterWlodarczyk)

Pro: Rapid improver won Peter Pan (G3) stretch duel in gutsy fashion.

Con: Faces a much sterner class test against these opponents.

#3 FORTE ****

Forte, with Irad Ortiz aboard, wins the G1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile for trainer Todd Pletcher, Keeneland Race Course, KY 11.04.2022. (Photo by

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 ***

Hit Show winning the Withers (G3) at Aqueduct (Photo by Coglianese Photos)

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.


Il Miracolo wins at Gulfstream Park (Photo by Lauren King/Coglianese Photos)

Pro: Pedigree (Gun Runner out of a Tapit mare) is main selling point.

Con: Well-beaten in all five prior stakes attempts.


#1 National Treasure and connections in the winner's circle of the Preakness Stakes (Photo by Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club)

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.


Red Route One training at Belmont Park 2023 (Photo by Coglianese Photos)

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.


Tapit Shoes in the Bath House Row Stakes (Photo by Coady Photography)

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 *****

Tapit Trice winning the Tampa Bay Derby (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs (Photo by SV Photography)

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.