The Belmont Stakes, the last jewel in the Triple Crown, is run at 12-furlongs which is the longest any American thoroughbred will ever run, and they will run it only one time. Elite sire, Tapit, has put together a rather remarkable stretch at the Belmont siring the winner in 2014 (Tonalist), 2016 (Creator) and 2017 (Tapwrit). His reign at the Big Sandy has only been interrupted by two super horses in American Pharoah (2015) and Justify (2018) who also happened to be Triple Crown winners. Even in those years, Tapit’s hoof prints were all over the race with Frosted finishing 2nd in 2015 and Hofburg running 3rd in 2018. That certainly bodes well for Tacitus this year.
Tapit, seeming to prove that the Simulation mirrors real life, appears as the sire of both favorites in the URC Belmont Stakes. Can someone upset the two of them, or will Tapit add another notation in his already impressive (legendary?) legacy?
The first challenger is 7/1 maiden Betrayal Exposed sired by Curlin who has his own Belmont winner in 2013s Palace Malice. If you follow my writing, you know I don’t put much stock in maidens taking on experienced stakes horses. I understand taking a chance and firmly believe that you cannot win races you don’t enter. I just think the hurdle is too difficult to cross. BE is a scratch bred with an immaculate pedigree pairing Curlin up with A.P. Indy and Danzig. He’s run twice finishing second both times running a 91 and a 97. Looks to be a promising horse but as Arya says to the god of death, not today.
Frankel, who just sired a 12-furlong winner in the Investec Oaks, sends out Star Stock who will be making his first career start on the dirt. Also, a scratch bred, this colt is Tavistock x Sea the Stars. Despite my aversion to all things Frankel, I like this pedigree placing a pair of classic distance bookends around a rare springing son of Montjeu. I suspect that this was designed to give the colt speed at longer distances. I actually think this colt may be a sprinter (2-0-1 in sprints). He has lost in routes a few times now by over 10 lengths, in fact, he has been beaten by a combined 25 the last two which doesn’t inspire much confidence at 8/1. A try on the dirt may shake things up but a reduction of distance could be the thing that turns Star Stock’s career around. Distance is a major concern here.
Longest shot in the field is Orb, son Jamisorb at 24/1. You may recognize him from the URC Derby where he ran 8th. He is 0-7 on the dirt and he faded at 10 so I wouldn’t expect his chances to improve at 12. Spectacular scratch bred pedigree here with Rahy and Secretariat which combined with Orb appears to have oddly created a turf sprinter.
Curlin’s son Exaggerator is represented through Fionia Holiday whom I wrote about in the URC Preakness. I still believe he is a sprinter (5-3-2) never missing the board at less than a mile. He ran a respectable 5th in the URC Preakness posting a career-high 100 SP while finishing 5th. He was on the lead and faded and I’d assume the expectation here is the longer distance allows him to hold the ground more. That does happen, but I would attribute the increase in SP time to either running on an off-track which we know Exaggerator loved or he is simply getting better as he matures and would have run 100+ under a mile as well. Yet another scratch-bred, I really do like the pairing of Exaggerator with Harlan’s Holiday. Twelve will be a grueling test for Fionia, not my choice at 6/1.
Classic Empire brings us an undefeated colt into this race, the 2/2 Henty Americum. This horse looks really good winning his debut at 5 then jumping 15 points to win his 2L with a 96 SP at 6. You already know what I’m going to say, this horse is a sprinter. No, not just because he is 2/2 for in sprints, but he is a Street Cry x Storm Cat from the mare Outback Americum who was a stakes winner from 6.5 to 8. Outback has produced one stakes winner, Kymara Americum who is a stakes winner at 6. You see where this is going. Henty is 14/1 making the leap from 6 to 12. That is such a radical leap it’s hard to say how the horse will react. It could be part of a strategy to take a shot at this race hoping for a flier then utilizing the cutback from 12 to say 7 for a big boost. Not a terrible idea.
Tommy Malibu is a difficult horse to handicap at 10/1. Son of Malibu Moon from the G2 winner Tommy whose winning distance was 9. Tommy Malibu is 0-3 on the dirt and 2 for 3 on the turf. That leads us to believe he prefers the grass. His backend is regal Danzig x Nijinsky and you just hate to count any horse who has Nijinsky that close up in his pedigree out of a 12-furlong race. Broke his maiden at 4.5 on the turf trying the green for the first time. Two races later jumped up 17 SP hitting triple digits for the first time posting a 100 SP in his first mile attempt on the turf. Will going up to 12 provide a further advance forward? It could. However, Tommy was beaten by 12 lengths running 9.5-furlongs on the dirt back in February. Probably a turf horse who has a promising career as an 8-9 furlong runner but a longshot worth considering.
Recently returning from the farm lacking his full anatomy is Guinness Again. The I’ll Have Another gelding is 1-10 in his career and looking for a boost. Scratch-bred Forty Niner x Riverman has never tried turf despite the DDS indication he may like it. Might have tried a turf mile/sprint as first back instead of this race. Beaten by 13 in a 9.5-furlong stake in March. Has run pretty consistently over the last eight months posting 85,82, 87, 86, 91, 88. Not a bad horse, just hasn’t found the right class and fit yet. 14/1 is the chance he does that on Saturday.
C is For Chris carries in 7/1 based on his 3 race win streak prior to the last start. All those wins came on the turf for the son of Chivalrous who was matched with the Medaglia d’Oro x Kingmambo mare L is For Lizzy. He began his career on the dirt where he went 3-0-2. Has tried 12 once, the only horse in the field to actually contest a race at Saturday’s distance. That’s the good news, the bad news is he lost by 20 lengths. Will be his first stakes attempt.
The oddsmakers really are confusing at times. Munnsville is 16/1 and I actually like this horse the most of anyone in the gate thus far. He has won more races (4) than any other horse in the field. He is 6-4-1-1 in routes never missing the board. He has won his last two races run at 10 and 11 furlongs winning by over 2 in both. He is a scratch breeding, Drosselmeyer with old school American pedigree in El Gran Senor x Tom Rolfe. He is inbred to Tom Rolfe and has Buckpasser in his 4th generation. This horse will like the distance. So why is he 16/1? Well, he has never run in anything but HOT races so his level of competition is a questions mark. Even so, I believe it is highly probable he will throw a 100 or higher Saturday. Live upset alert.
Cursive is the first of the two Tapit favorites. He comes from a noble family being the first son of stakes-winning mare Mahanta (Distorted Humor x Pivotal) who is the daughter of G1 winner Reincarnation (Pivotal x Sadler’s Wells x Buckpasser). Reincarnation from 3 runners also has G1 winner Eckankar (Malibu Moon). A great deal of class in this family and Cursive looks like he could be a significant horse and a win in the URC Belmont would put him on that path. Broke his maiden two back at 8.5 with a 98 then won a 2L at 9.5 with a 102 SP by 3. Should run huge on Saturday and is almost a lock to make the top 3.
Frankel joins Tapit with two runners in Saturday’s event with 9/1 Sea the Beer (which also gives us two beer inspired names). His mom was the stakes victor Sea the Queens (Sea the Stars x A.P. Indy). Banking on pedigree over past results which are mixed having run 3 times on the dirt and 3 times on the turf as the trainer has done much to try and find a perfect zone for the colt. There is some indication that 9-furlongs may be his ceiling but we won’t know until he goes beyond that barrier which will take place Saturday. Hard one to figure and it’s this type which gives trainers headaches.
Monstrum Rex the other Tapit (and my Tapit). Ran a closing 3rd in the URC Derby beaten by 2. Difficult to see a scenario where he doesn’t run 98+ as he’ll almost certainly like the distance being an Arch x Secretariat from a 14f graded winner. He was bred for a race like this so it’s his moment and he’ll either be good enough or he won’t.
Can anyone beat the two Tapits? Both are formidable in this race. Monstrum Rex has more stakes experience but Cursive has the faster career SP. Both want to be unleashed in the straightaway. The URC Preakness witnessed a thrilling stretch duel and we might see another at the Big Sandy. A hidden affinity for 12 could put Henty Americum or Betrayal Exposed into the race and I believe Munnsville will make some noise but it will be the two grays slugging it out coming for home.