'Tapping' into the Field for the 155th Belmont Stakes

Tapit Trice | Sarah Andrew


ELMONT, NY – Breathe easy.

Following significant improvement in air quality conditions throughout New York State, the 155th GI Belmont Stakes–celebrating the 50th anniversary of Secretariat's performance of a lifetime in the final leg of the Triple Crown–will go on as scheduled Saturday evening.

If there's one sire's name that you want to see when handicapping the 1 1/2-mile Classic, it's Tapit.

Responsible for a co-record four Belmont winners, two second-place finishers and two third-place finishers, the 22-year-old Gainesway kingpin will be represented by potential race favorite Tapit Trice (Tapit) and the rail-drawn longshot Tapit Shoes (Tapit) in the field of nine as well as an additional four runners as a broodmare sire.

Tapit's everywhere,” Gainesway's General Manager Brian Graves said. “He's a once-in-a-lifetime horse. We'll probably be quite content if we just have a few stallions half as good as him at Gainesway in the near future.”

The $1.3-million Keeneland September yearling graduate Tapit Trice, winner of the GI Toyota Blue Grass S. and seventh-place finisher in the GI Kentucky Derby, was bred by Gainesway and is campaigned in partnership by Antony Beck's operation along with Mandy Pope's Whisper Hill Farm.

“We're hoping for our own selves that Tapit Trice can win this race and stand beside his dad at Gainesway,” Graves said. “We're very proud. We bred this horse and we have the mare on the farm. We bought her as a 2-year-old and raced her, so it's a family that we have created right here. There's a lot of excitement in the air hoping that Tapit Trice could be a special horse. We're all dreaming right now.”

Tapit Trice's Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher has won the Belmont four times himself, including with Tapit's Tapwrit following a sixth-place finish on the first Saturday in May, and will also saddle morning-line favorite and last year's champion 2-year-old colt Forte (Violence). The latter was forced to scratch on the morning of the Derby with a well-documented foot bruise.

The field for the Belmont also includes wire-to-wire GI Preakness S. winner National Treasure (Quality Road) and beaten Kentucky Derby favorite and third-place finisher Angel of Empire (Classic Empire), who adds blinkers for the first time.

Keeping it 100…

Commanding a stud fee of $185,000 in 2023, North America's three-time leading sire Tapit is responsible for 100 graded winners worldwide–31 at the highest level–including Belmont winners Essential Quality (2021), Tapwrit (2017), Creator (2016) and Tonalist (2014).

Tapit is the broodmare sire of 12 Grade I winners, including this year's GI Kentucky Oaks heroine Pretty Mischievous (Into Mischief), who returned with a thrilling victory in Friday's GI Acorn S., and Saturday's GI Hill 'n' Dale Metropolitan H. 7-5 morning-line favorite and GI Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile winner Cody's Wish (Curlin).

He'll have four chances to collect his first Belmont trophy as a broodmare sire with the lightly raced GIII Peter Pan S. winner Arcangelo (Arrogate); Hit Show (Candy Ride {Arg}), a better-than-it-looked fifth in the Kentucky Derby after racing close to a hot pace; last out Gulfstream optional claiming winner Il Miracolo (Gun Runner); and Bath House Row winner and GI Preakness S. fourth Red Route One (Gun Runner).

Tapit's progeny will also be featured prominently on the absolutely stacked Belmont undercard via Charge It (Tapit) (GI Hill 'n' Dale Metropolitan H.); Highest Honors (Tapit) (GI Resorts World Casino Manhattan S.); and Portos (Tapit) (GII Brooklyn S.).

Star Power…

There will be eight additional graded stakes races–five at the Grade I level–on the blockbuster Belmont undercard.

The aforementioned fan favorite Cody's Wish (Curlin) will put his five-race winning streak on the line in the stallion-making GI Hill 'n' Dale Metropolitan H.

Clairiere (Curlin) and Secret Oath (Arrogate) will meet for the third straight time in the GI Ogden Phipps S. The former defeated two-time champion Malathaat (Curlin) by a head in a thrilling renewal of the Phipps last year.

Last out GI Old Forester Bourbon Turf Classic S. winner Up to the Mark (Not This Time) will take on nine rivals, including the Charlie Appleby-trained duo of Ottoman Fleet (GB) (Sea The Stars {Ire}) and Warren Point (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}), in the GI Resorts World Casino Manhattan S.

A terrific field of 13 sophomores, including top two choices General Jim (Into Mischief) and Arabian Lion (Justify), will throw down in one of the best betting races on the day in the seven-furlong GI Woody Stephens S.

Last year's GI Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint winner Caravel (Mizzen Mast) will face an overflow field of males, including two-time GI Jaipur S. winner Casa Creed (Jimmy Creed), in a very deep edition of the six-furlong turf sprint Saturday.

Streaking champion sprinter and GI Breeders' Cup Sprint winner Elite Power (Curlin) looms large in the GII True North S.

Chez Pierre (Fr) (Mehmas {Ire}), winner of the GI Maker's Mark Mile S. at Keeneland this spring, is the even-money, morning-line favorite for the GIII Poker S.

And a field of 11 stayers will be locked and loaded in front of the crowd at the Belmont distance of 1 1/2 miles in the GII Brooklyn S.

The legendary Tom Durkin will make his return out of retirement to the announcer's booth to call the Belmont S. as well as all the races aired during FOX's Belmont Day coverage scheduled for 4:00-7:30 p.m. ET.

Saturday's forecast calls for partly sunny skies and a delightful high of 77 degrees on Long Island.

First post for the 13-race program, featuring a trio of Breeders' Cup 'Win and You're In' events (Met Mile, Ogden Phipps and Jaipur), is 11:20 a.m. ET. Post time for the Belmont is 7:02 p.m.

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