(Bloomberg) -- The Belmont Stakes, on paper, is a loaded race. The Preakness Stakes winner, National Treasure, is here. So too is the third-place finisher in the Kentucky Derby, Angel of Empire. And last year’s two-year-old champ, Forte, is back on the national stage after getting pulled out of the Derby at the last minute.
But none of those horses will find himself draped in a blanket of carnations late Saturday afternoon. No, that will be the big gray, Tapit Trice. Assuming this Canadian smoke thins out some here and the race isn’t called off, he’s gonna crush this field. I have no doubt. The only question is how many lengths he wins by.
OK, OK, so maybe I exaggerate a little, but not much.
My degree of conviction in this bet is high. I know the horse disappointed some gamblers when he flopped badly as one of the top favorites in the Derby, but I’m not holding that defeat against him. I never liked him in that spot. His running style — with that massive stride that takes a long, long while (and lots of rider encouragement) to uncoil — was a bad fit for such a crowded race.
But it’s a great fit for the Belmont.
The field will be smaller (nine horses instead of the Derby’s 18); the track on Long Island has the widest and gentlest turns in the country, a huge help for a horse that struggles to corner (cause of that big stride); the early pace will be modest, allowing him to track the leaders without exerting much energy; and the marathon mile-and-a-half distance will be right up his alley. He’s a son of Tapit, who’s sired four of the past nine Belmont winners, and a good-looking one at that. He fetched $1.3 million in a Kentucky auction ring as a baby two years ago.
Oh, and he’s training like an absolute monster right now. I’ll happily take the 3-1 odds he’s expected to offer come race-time. I’m betting him and betting big.
(David Papadopoulos, an executive editor at Bloomberg News, is a voter in the thoroughbred industry’s Eclipse Awards. He has been publishing his Triple Crown picks, with decidedly mixed results, for the past decade.)
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.