The average size of the Belmont Stakes field for the past five years has been 10.2, seeing a field of 14 just once over that span back in 2013. In the last two renewals, we have seen fields of just 9 and 8. As many as 14 horses are entered as probables for the final leg of the Triple Crown this coming Saturday, June 11th.
One of the reasons that the competition in the final American Classic is usually so small is the arduous distance that the horses have to race. The 1 1/2 mile challenge is the longest that these horses will ever run and that often scares a lot of talent in the other direction. It’s no wonder why it’s called the Test of the Champion.
Leading the Belmont Stakes field will be Exaggerator, who is fresh off a win at the Preakness Stakes and a second-place finish at the Kentucky Derby. All reports about his conditioning have been positive and Keith Desormeaux has been exceptional at keeping him on track. He will open as the favorite without a doubt.
His main competition will be Cherry Wine, who finished second at the Preakness Stakes after Nyquist drifted to third. Exaggerator is also likely to be challenged by Stradivari (4th at Preakness) and Destin (6th at Kentucky Derby), both of whom will enter this race with hopes that the track stays dry and plays to their strength.
Other familiar faces will also make return appearences in the Triple Crown. Lani came 5th at the Preakness and 9th at the Kentucky Derby and returns to offer his special brand of pre-race, goofball hijinks. Suddenbreakingnews has also had strong training sessions in the leadup to the Belmont Stakes after finishing 5th at the Kentucky Derby. Brody’s Cause placed 7th at the Kentucky Derby and is looking to stir the pot.
Two of the final finishers from the marquee event at Churchill Downs will also try their luck at the longer distance. Trojan Nation finished 16th as a wild longshot, while Creator trailed to 13th in that same race. Both are looking for rebound performances with Creator the more likely of the two to do so.
Several new shooters will also penetrate the Belmont Stakes field as well. These include Governor Malibu and Wild About Deb, who placed second at third at the Peter Pan Stakes. Making their stakes racing debuts will be Forever d’Oro, Gettysburg and Seeking The Soul.
In total, that’s 14 horses entered for the race. The post draw will occur Wednesday, and that will help finalize the odds. Despite the size of the Belmont Stakes field, this is still a top heavy race. For what it’s worth, the Kentucky Preakness went chalk with the top four-runners finishing in the expected order. The Preakness was almost the same, with Cherry Wine breaking the top-four as a 20/1 longshot and Exaggerator leaping over Nyquist as the second favorite and first across the finish line.