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The 155th running of the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes is on Saturday, June 10th in Elmont, New York at 7:02 pm. A field of nine horses will go to post as “New York, New York” plays in the background and the New York faithful sing along. The race is run over the 1 1/2 mile course nicknamed “Big Sandy,” known for its wide sweeping turns. It is the third and final jewel in the Triple Crown sequence. 

Often referred to as “The Test of Champions,” the grueling 1 1/2 miles separates the men from the boys as route horses.  Fifty years ago (1973) Secretariat won the Belmont by a staggering 31 lengths in record time of 2:24 that stands in America to this day. Three fillies have won this race. The very first Belmont in 1867 at Jerome Park was won by Ruthless. The first ever Belmont at Belmont Park in 1905 was won by Tanya. And, in 2007 Rags to Riches bested the boys. 
Since 2000, only three horses have won this race on the front end going wire-to-wire. It is extremely difficult for a speed horse to carry that momentum for a mile and a half.  In the last decade, the average winning time for the first quarter of a mile in the Belmont is :23.69 and the last quarter average is :25.55. So the final quarter is typically about two seconds slower. Six of the last nine winners were within 2 1/2 lengths of the leader at the half-mile mark. 
If you are a Dosage Index follower, since the 2013 points system was introduced, 47% of Belmont entries and eight of the nine past winners  had a DI between 2.00-3.00. The exception is American Pharoah with a 4.33. If you have any faith in the birth order angle, second foals have a slight edge in the biggest American races with 21.5% winners. Third foals are not far behind at 18.6% and first foals come in at 16.9%. 
Pedigree has played a major role in recent Belmont races as four of the last ten winners were sired by Tapit.
The trainer angle is also relevant as Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher has won this race four times. 
So what does any or all of this mean for the 2023 race? 
First, there are NO Secretariats in this race. No overwhelmingly dominant freakish specimen who simply cannot be defeated. There are no fillies in this race. But, there is one female trainer and if Arcangelo wins Jena Antonucci would be the first female trainer to win the Belmont!!
The lone speed in the race is National Treasure. That means there is no horse than can really go with him and soften him up. If he can get away with modest fractions on the front-end as he did in the Preakness, he might become the fourth horse to wire the Belmont field since 2000 IF he has the stamina. 
With six of the last nine winners being within 2 1/2 lengths of the leader at the half mile pole, let’s look at the running styles of the other eight contenders who will follow National Treasure. Forte should get the best position to overtake National Treasure when he tires. The rest of the field sits mid-pack in front of closers Angel of Empire and Red Route One. Angel of Empire will get blinkers on for this race which will likely put him a bit closer to the pace early. That may prove helpful if he is able to adjust to the change in running style. Or, it may completely take him out of his game. If some closers are asked to make their move too early they do so and then stop. No one knows how he will respond until the gates open. Brad Cox has impressive numbers with both the first time blinkers (30%) and blinkers on (24%) move. 
However, if your wager is Dosage Index dependent, Angel of Empire will get a big toss. He has a 9.00 which definitely does not fall within that 2.00-3.00 range previously discussed for past winners. Forte hits the 3.00 right on the nose and Hit Show is squarely in the middle with a 2.5. As to birth order, Tapit Trice is a second foal and both Forte and Angel of Empire are first foals. 
The Tapit winning angle is absolutely fascinating in this race as two of the nine contenders are sired by him…Tapit Shoes and Tapit Trice. An astonishing four more contenders have Tapit as their dam’s sire. They are Red Route One, Hit Show, Arcangelo, and IL Miracolo. 
Four-time winning trainer Todd Pletcher sends out Tapit Trice and Forte. And, Brad Cox, who won this race in 2021 with Essential Quality,  trains Hit Show, Angel of Empire, and Tapit Shoes. Between them they campaign more than half the field. 
One last number before we wrap this up. The distance Tomlinson for several horses in the field is under 300. Ideally, it should be 320 or above. Only four horses in the field have a 300+ Tomlinson…Hit Show (331) Tapit Shoes (327), IL Miracolo and Red Route One (309). 
Personally, I take much if not all of this information into account when choosing my horses. In addition, I look at who they have beaten (class), form…are they improving or declining, Beyer numbers, and, of course, times. 
Now, if all of this simply makes your head spin, you could do what my friend and I did a few years ago in the Belmont. We bet the four gray horses in a superfecta box. Twice. And it paid thousands!! This year there are three grays…Tapit Trice, Hit Show, and Arcangelo. You could play a worse trifecta! I promise. 

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