***UPDATED with post positions and morning-line odds
After an historic first disqualification of a Kentucky Derby (G1) winner for interference and a riderless horse in the Preakness (G1), what unforeseeable spectacle awaits in the June 8 Belmont S. (G1)?
War of Will, hampered by the disqualified Maximum Security in the Derby, bounced back in style to land the Preakness. The only horse to race in all three jewels of the 2019 Triple Crown, the Mark Casse trainee bids for a Preakness/Belmont double achieved in recent years by Point Given (2001) and Afleet Alex (2005).
While neither Maximum Security nor promoted Derby winner Country House are trying the Belmont, a few Derby runners opted to skip the Preakness to arrive fresh for the “Test of the Champion” – Tacitus, who was promoted to third; Master Fencer, the Japan Road invitee who stormed up the inside late to rank as the official sixth-placer; and Spinoff, a subpar 18th in the slop. Another Derby competitor finally confirmed for the Belmont is Tax, officially 14th.
Two Preakness “new shooters” who chased War of Will home at Pimlico, runner-up Everfast and eighth Bourbon War, are in the Belmont. Classic newcomers include Sir Winston and Intrepid Heart, the respective second and third from the May 11 Peter Pan (G3) over the track, and recent Long Branch winner Joevia.
WAR OF WILL, Post 9, 2-1
Kentucky Derby escape artist and Preakness hero aims for pro tem divisional leadership
Owner: Gary Barber; Trainer: Mark Casse; Jockey: Tyler Gaffalione
Pedigree: War Front-Visions of Clarity, by Sadler’s Wells
TACITUS, Post 10, 9-5 favorite
Wood Memorial (G2) and Tampa Bay Derby (G2) winner, placed third in the Kentucky Derby, figures to handle the 1 1/2-mile distance
Owner: Juddmonte Farms; Trainer: Bill Mott; Jockey: Jose Ortiz
Pedigree: Tapit-Close Hatches, by First Defence
MASTER FENCER, Post 3, 8-1
Japanese shipper, hard-charging Derby sixth, hopes to improve on compatriot Lani’s third here in 2016
Owner: Katsumi & Yasuyo Yoshizawa; Trainer: Koichi Tsunoda; Jockey: Julien Leparoux
Pedigree: Just a Way-Sexy Zamurai, by Deputy Minister
TAX, Post 4, 15-1
Withers (G3) winner and Wood runner-up ran well below his best when 14th in the Derby
Owner: R.A. Hill Stable, Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, Hugh Lynch & Corms Racing Stable; Trainer: Danny Gargan; Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.
Pedigree: Arch-Toll, by Giant’s Causeway
SPINOFF, Post 6, 15-1
Louisiana Derby (G2) runner-up, a too-bad-to-be-true 18th in the Kentucky Derby, didn’t enjoy the slop
Owner: Wertheimer et Frere; Trainer: Todd Pletcher; Jockey: Javier Castellano
Pedigree: Hard Spun-Zaftig, by Gone West
EVERFAST, Post 2, 12-1
Preakness runner-up had looked exposed before outperforming his odds at Pimlico
Owner: Calumet Farm; Trainer: Dale Romans; Jockey: Luis Saez
Pedigree: Take Charge Indy-Awesome Surprise, by Awesome Again
BOURBON WAR, Post 5, 12-1
Fountain of Youth (G2) runner-up and Florida Derby (G1) fourth didn’t progress as hoped when adding blinkers in the Preakness, where he checked in eighth
Owner: Bourbon Lane Stable & Lake Star Stable; Trainer: Mark Hennig; Jockey: Mike Smith
Pedigree: Tapit-My Conquestadory, by Artie Schiller
SIR WINSTON, Post 7, 12-1
Display winner, unplaced in a trio of Derby points races, closed well for second in the Peter Pan
Owner: Tracy Farmer; Trainer: Mark Casse; Jockey: Joel Rosario
Pedigree: Awesome Again-La Gran Bailadora, by Afleet Alex
INTREPID HEART, Post 8, 10-1
Half-brother to 2014 Belmont near-misser Commissioner suffered his first loss in the Peter Pan, finishing third as the favorite after a stumbling start
Owner: Robert & Lawana Low; Trainer: Todd Pletcher; Jockey: John Velazquez
Pedigree: Tapit-Flaming Heart, by Touch Gold
JOEVIA, Post 1, 30-1
Breakthrough in Monmouth Park’s Long Branch came after his Wood Memorial debacle, where he was demoted from seventh to 11th for interference.
Owner: Michael Fazio & Jeff Fazio; Trainer: Greg Sacco; Jockey: Jose Lezcano
Pedigree: Shanghai Bobby-Peace Process, by War Front