I guess being from New York and attending more Belmont’s than I can even remember the race has always been special to me. The fact I have made some scores on the race probably doesn’t hurt either. The Test of Champions, it even sounds special.

This year we have a competitive race with the likely favorite, Forte coming into the mile and a half affair off a layoff since the Florida Derby. On top of that he was a Vet scratch in the Kentucky Derby.

Tapit Shoes breaks from the rail for Brad Cox under Jose Ortiz. He has the look of a rabbit to me helping to set it up for Cox’s other runner Angel of Empire. He looks the most likely horse to try and entertain National Treasure early. I don’t think he is good enough or fast enough to last when it counts.

Tapit Trice will take his share of money off a flop in the Derby. He will have to make up a lot of ground to win this and the pace doesn’t figure to help him. That said he is a fighter and we have seen a lot of horses over the years just not fire in Kentucky on the First Saturday in May and come back and run big. I think he is a dangerous contender under Luis Saez and I actually prefer him to Pletcher’s other horse, favorite Forte.

Arcangelo would be a major surprise to me. His last race was good, but he would have to do even better here to win, and I don’t see it.

National Treasure rewarded me for backing him strong in the Preakness. I think that race although hard gave him some confidence and I think he once again gets a pace advantage. He can sit off the horse on the rail or out run him to the lead depending on how things unfold. I’d be comfortable either way and I think he runs back to the big effort in Baltimore or even goes forward.

Il Miracolo looks out gunned. He would be a head scratcher.

Forte was a Vet scratch out of the Kentucky Derby and now is being asked to win the mile and a half Belmont off since the Florida Derby. It is a big ask for even a special horse. He is fast and game and his normal race puts him in it but under the circumstances I think someone will be better than him.

Hit Show yet another Cox horse in here is on a lot of people’s short list. Not mine. He is talented and close to these just not as good as a few of the good ones in my opinion.

Angel of Empire who I did not like at all in the Derby looks awfully tough to me in here. He knows how to win, and I thought Prat gave him a lot to do in Louisville. He puts blinkers on and trains well in them. Cox is 30% adding blinkers a move I usually don’t like with a horse running good going into a big race, but we play the hand we are dealt, and Cox knows his horse. This Pennsylvania bred is ultra-live.

Red Route One made an early move into traffic in the Preakness. I think that was a mistake and I think he goes back to his one run style here. I like the angle and the horse, but I don’t think he can mount a late rally good enough to win. He can get into the exotics perhaps, but I see that as his ceiling.

Foe me I am torn between National Treasure and Angel of Empire. I may play it safe and use those two in the multi race wagers and look to be alive.

Enjoy the Belmont and the big day!

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Jon Stettin

Since childhood, Jon has always had a deep love and respect for the Sport of Kings. His years of experience have earned him a well respected spot in the industry as a handicapper. He now is a frequent contributor to AmWager as well as writing for his own site.

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