Champion Forte Favored for Belmont Stakes



ELMONT, NY — Last year's champion 2-year-old colt and 'TDN Rising Star' Forte (Violence), scratched on the morning of the GI Kentucky Derby with an untimely foot bruise, was tabbed as the 5-2 morning-line favorite for the 155th running of the GI Belmont Stakes at Tuesday's post-position draw held in the Triple Crown Lounge at Belmont Park.

The Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable colorbearer, last seen defeating subsequent Kentucky Derby winner Mage (Good Magic) in dramatic fashion in the GI Curlin Florida Derby Apr. 1, will exit from post six with regular rider Irad Ortiz, Jr. aboard in the nine-horse field.

“We still think this is the best 3-year-old in the crop and I think on Saturday he's going to prove that,” co-owner Mike Repole said.

Four-time Belmont S. winning trainer Todd Pletcher will also be very well-represented by the 3-1 second-choice on the morning-line and fellow 'Rising Star' Tapit Trice (Tapit). Seventh in the Kentucky Derby, the GI Toyota Blue Grass S. winner will break from post two in the 1 1/2-mile Classic.

“The key is getting him out of the gate and into position,” said Pletcher, who will have two chances to reach even terms with the late Woody Stephens, who won five straight renewals of the Belmont from 1982-86. “He's got a big, long stride on him. If he can get him into a good rhythm, I think he's going to like the mile and a half. He's been training that way.”

Wire-to-wire GI Preakness S. winner National Treasure (Quality Road) will be the one to catch once again for Bob Baffert while breaking from post four. He is listed at 5-1 on the morning line.

Trainer Brad Cox will saddle a trio, led by 7-2 third choice and favored Kentucky Derby third-place finisher Angel of Empire (Classic Empire). The GI Arkansas Derby winner adds blinkers for the first time in the final leg of the Triple Crown.

“Flavien [Prat] came back after the Derby and immediately said to put blinkers on the horse,” Cox said. “I don't know that it would have made a big difference in winning the Derby, but I do know that he does train well in them. It's something to experiment with and see what happens. I'm very happy with where he's at.”

Cox will also tighten the girth on Hit Show (Candy Ride {Arg}) (post seven; 10-1), a respectable fifth in the Derby after sitting close to a sharp early pace; and narrow Bath House Row S. runner-up Tapit Shoes (Tapit) (post one; 20-1). Cox won the 2021 Belmont with Essential Quality.

The all-conquering Tapit has already sired four Belmont winners–Essential Quality (2021), Tapwrit (2017), Creator (2016) and Tonalist (2014). In addition to his aforementioned sons Tapit Trice and Tapit Shoes, Tapit is also the broodmare sire of GIII Peter Pan S. winner Arcangelo (Arrogate), Hit Show, last out Gulfstream optional claiming winner Il Miracolo (Gun Runner) and Bath House Row winner and Preakness fourth Red Route One (Gun Runner).

From the rail out, the complete field for the Belmont Stakes with morning-line odds:

1-Tapit Shoes (Tapit) (20-1)

2-Tapit Trice (Tapit) (3-1)

3-Arcangelo (Arrogate) (8-1)

4-National Treasure (Quality Road) (5-1)

5-Il Miracolo (Gun Runner) (30-1)

6-Forte (Violence) (5-2)

7-Hit Show (Candy Ride {Arg}) (10-1)

8-Angel of Empire (Classic Empire) (7-2)

9-Red Route One (Gun Runner) (15-1)

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