Field Of Nine, Led By Tacitus, War Of Will, Shaping Up For Belmont Stakes

by | 05.29.2019 | 12:45pm
Tacitus gallops at Churchill Downs ahead of the 2019 Kentucky Derby.

Preakness winner War of Will and third-place Kentucky Derby finisher Tacitus will likely be the solid top two choices in a probable field of nine for the Belmont Stakes June 8.

The field won't officially be set until Tuesday, when the post position draw takes place, but word from potential contenders points to a nine-horse lineup led by those two colts.

Even though War of Will won the Preakness, Tacitus could top the Belmont morning line odds, since Derby horses that have skipped the Preakness have run well in the Belmont in recent history. Four of the last five Belmont Stakes winners in non-Triple Crown winning years fit the category: Tapwrit in 2017, Creator in 2016, Palace Malice in 2013 and Union Rags in 2012.

Two of those winners, Tapwrit and Creator, plus 2014 Belmont Stakes winner Tonalist, are by Tapit, the sire of Tacitus, adding to his appeal.

With a start in the Belmont, War of Will could be the only horse to run in all three legs of the Triple Crown this year. The rest of the confirmed Belmont field shapes up like this, trainer in parentheses: Preakness runner-up Everfast (Dale Romans), Intrepid Heart, third in the Peter Pan (Todd Pletcher), Master Fencer, sixth in the Kentucky Derby (Koichi Tsunoda), Sir Winston, second in Peter Pan (Mark Casse), Spinoff, 18th in the Derby (Todd Pletcher), Tax, 14th in Derby (Danny Gargan). Long Branch Stakes winner Joevia, trained by Greg Sacco, is also probable for the Belmont Stakes.

Several jockey assignments remain undecided, although Todd Pletcher said for his two contenders, both Javier Castellano and John Velazquez would be available.

Luis Saez, the rider aboard disqualified Kentucky Derby winner Maximum Security, will pick up the mount on Everfast in the Belmont. Julian Leparoux keeps the ride on Master Fencer, while Tyler Gaffalione stays on War of Will and Jose Ortiz sticks with Tacitus. The only other confirmed rider is Joel Rosario aboard Sir Winston.

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