In both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, War of Will would have runs inside from the rail, with the colt winning the Preakness. Now in Saturday’s Belmont Stakes, War of Will now will get his chance for an outside trip.
In other words, War of Will will be starting from post 9 in a total field of 10, and the length of the race will be 1 1/2 mile. The colt would finish eighth in the Kentucky Derby, but would be bumped up to seventh after the disqualification of Maximum Security.
For most horses, starting from the inside usually isn’t a bad thing, being able to make quicker turns around the track. However, for trainer Mark Casse, he said it’s been a drag on his horse using way too much energy trying to get into position — this was particularly noticeable in the Kentucky Derby.
In the race he would win, the Preakness Stakes, things would go perfectly for War of Will. His rail trip would be spot on with jockey Tyler Gaffalione at the helm, and he was also able to avoid the jockey-less Bodexpress to have another blown race. As a result, it would be a victory for War of Will.
A streak of unfortunate events would continue for War of Will on Tuesday morning when he would have his first training session at Belmont. While the colt was getting in some running action, there were two more jockey-less horses that he would have to deal with. Fortunately for War of Will, he would have luck on his side again and avoid the incident. Still, you have to wonder what kind of energy is surrounding War of Will, his training staff and ownership at the moment.
Apparently, it hasn’t been too negative. Casse would say that every piece of adversity that has been thrown War of Will’s way has been handled very well. I would have to agree. Being the only horse to participate in all three races of the Triple Crown this year, he would win one of those controversial races, and comes in second in the odds for Belmont. I personally would make him the favorite with the way the colt and his staff have handled all of the insanity.
“He’s always had some obstacle to overcome, and he’s always been able to do it,” Casse would tell the press.
“Big Sandy”, the 12-furlong distance track, will be a challenge for War of Will, however. This race won’t be easy for him by any stretch of the imagination. After all, it is a Triple Crown race.
Right beside War of Will in post 10 is Tacticus, who also happens to be the favorite to win the Belmont Stakes. He would happen to grab himself a top three finish after placing in fourth after the race, but would be bumped up to third after Maximum Security’s DQ.
Even though War of Will won the Preakness Stakes, there’s a reason why Tacticus is the favorite coming into Belmont: He’s the son of Tapit, who is the sire of three winners of the Belmont Stakes — those three champions would be Tonalist in 2014, Creator in 2016, and Tapwrit in 2017. Another thing that makes the Bill Mott-trainee such a lethal threat is his versatility. No matter where he posts in the field, the colt can easily adjust to the cards that are drawn for him. That will be very beneficial in the No. 10 spot. Riding this horse will be jockey Jose Ortiz, who would win the Belmont Stakes with Tapwrit in 2017.
Intrepid Heart is another horse who comes in with the bloodline of a Belmont champion, and on top of that, the horse is trained by three-time Belmont-winning trainer Todd Pletcher. The colt is one of two entries into the Belmont for Pletcher.
There’s some concern for Intrepid Heart coming in though. First off, he lacks experience racing just three times throughout his career, and that’s not all. In his last start in the Peter Pan, which took place at Belmont last month on May 11, he would stumble at the start. But again, those bloodlines. He’s the grandson of Touch Gold, who was the champion of the 1997 Belmont Stakes that would refuse Silver Charm the Triple Crown. With two-time Belmont champion Velazquez as jockey and sporting new blinkers on Saturday, it’ll be interesting to see if he can improve from his third-place finish last time out at Belmont.
Pletcher’s second horse is Spinoff, a colt that would do absolutely dismal in the Kentucky Derby with an 18th place finish — in his defense, the trip was pretty wide. Here’s my biggest concern for the Pletcher-trainee: He’s being ridden by Javier Castellano, a jockey who has only managed three-second place finishes in 12 Belmont races. On top of that, he’s also riding Spinoff for the very first time.
After a lackluster eighth-place finish in the Preakness Stakes, changes are ahead for Bourbon War and staff.
Trained by Mark Hennig, the colt will be wearing the blinkers that he wore at Pimlico. Another change that Bourbon War is undergoing is his jockey. The horse will see a different one at the helm, but it’s certainly a great choice: It’ll be Mike Smith, someone who is already in the horse racing Hall of Fame and he’s also won the Belmont Stakes on three separate occasions. Smith would also win the Triple Crown last year with Justify. With Smith most likely to have Bourbon War closer to the pace, his +1000 odds are extraordinarily interesting (and profitable) to say the least.
Going back to Mark Casse, War of Will isn’t the only horse that he has in the race. He’ll also have Sir Winston in action, who would secure a second place finish at Belmont’s Peter Pan. But if you take this pick, take it with caution. He only has two wins on his resume and they both come on the same track of Woodbine. His last win would be back in December of last year in the Display Stakes. Casse feels confident though, saying the distance should suit Sir Winston.
Master Fencer comes in listed third in the odds, and he’s also a special horse in the race being Japanese-bred — he was also the only one to race in the Kentucky Derby. He would gain some notoriety after his strong rally in the Derby that saw him finish seventh, and then sixth after the disqualification of Maximum Security. Here’s a really bright spot for Master Fencer entering the Belmont Stakes: He’s ran in multiple races that are of longer distance.
There’s also some motivation here for Master Fencer as well, and that’s due to his stakes of grabbing a victory. If the Japanese horse is able to pull off a win, he’ll receive a $1 million bonus rewarded by the New York Racing Association, which is offered to any winner from Japan. There’s a solid shot of that happening as well, with Julien Leparoux being the jockey. Though he is still looking for his first Belmont win, he would take five races at Churchill Downs on May 27, an obvious elite showing.
For the horse Everlast, it seems to be it doesn’t matter what odds you place on him, he’ll continuously over-accomplish and exceed expectations.
The Dale Romans-trained Everlast would be at a crazy insane 128-1 odds in the Holy Bull Stakes, but it doesn’t matter, he would still nearly get the win with a second place finish.
A similar scenario happened in the Preakness Stakes, and with him as a late entry as well. Entering a leg of the Triple Crown at 28-1 odds, he would nearly pull an upset victory by claiming another second place feat. Entering the Belmont Stakes, Everlast appears to be getting a bit more respect, coming in with 12-1 odds. Luis Saez, the jockey who would win the Kentucky Derby with Maximum Security before he got disqualified, will also be racing the colt, so you can for sure expect Everlast to be competitive in this one — especially considering he’s the most experienced horse in the race with 11 starts total. Take advantage of those long shot odds.
Despite finishing 14th in the Kentucky Derby and entering the Belmont Stakes with long shot +1200 odds, expect Tax to be competitive in this one and possibly surprise people with a top three finish — maybe even a victory. His back form shows that he would nearly get a win in the Wood Memorial, finishing second just behind Belmont-favorite Tacitus. That’s a key race on his resume that will force me (and others, I’m sure) to keep an eye on him as we approach post time. On June 1 after a training session, the gelding was supplied with glue-on shoes, and it was announced that Irad Ortiz Jr. will be riding the horse. He would lead Creator to a victory in the Belmont Stakes.
The most distant long shot in the race is Joevia, but they’re an interesting one, winning the Long Branch Stakes at Monmouth Park in their last race. Just something to ponder.
The 2019 Belmont Stakes are on Saturday, June 8 and post time is scheduled for 6:48 PM ET.
Now to the odds, shall we?
Tacitus has had nothing but elite showings throughout his five-race career, which explains his first place +200 odds to make him the favorite. Things would get started for the colt in a Maiden Special Weight race at Belmont, and it would go pretty well for him with a fourth-place tally. In the very next race, another MSW at Aqueduct, that’s where he would get his first victory that would put him on a three-race roll.
Tacitus would take things down to Florida to compete in the Tampa Bay Derby, and he would get another win there, and another victory would come in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct. In his most recent race, it wouldn’t be a win, but it would still be a solid performance with him landing in the top three (third) on the leaderboard.
War of Will comes in with a loaded resume, competing in a total of 10 races in his career and winning four of them — not bad. The experience, the victories, and War of Will’s Preakness win is why the colt is second place in the odds and just 25 points behind the favorite at +225.
For the 3-year-old, things would get kicked off in a Maiden Special Weight race at Woodbine, and it would be an elite finish in third place. Things would get even better in another race at Woodbine, finishing second in the summer. War of Will would then take things down to Bourbon at Keeneland, and even though still a great performance, he would fall in fourth place.
Up next, War of Will would then take his talents down to Churchill Downs for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, and he would land a top-five placement in fifth. And then came his first victory: He would claim it in an MSW at Churchill Downs. That win would then deliver War of Will two more straight victories — one at Lecomte at Fair Grounds, and the other at Risen Star at Fair Grounds.
Things would get a bit shaky with a ninth-place finish in the Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds, followed by a seventh-place finish in the Kentucky Derby. However, in his most recent race, he would recover with a win — and in one of the Triple Crown legs, too, at the Preakness.
Tacitus may have the better overall record, but don’t be surprised to see experience play a part in this one, and if it does, War of Will may very well beat out Tacitus.
Master Fencer comes into this race with more motivation than a resume, only racing in one contest throughout his career. His only appearance would be in the 2019 Kentucky Derby, and he would land a sixth-place finish in the big one.
Regarding motivation, here is what I mentioned earlier:
That alone makes him a legitimate threat, and that’s why he’s listed third in the odds at +700.
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