Late Odds, Best Bets, and What Angel of Empire, Tapit Trice and National Treasure Have To Do To Beat Forte
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The 2023 Belmont Stakes may offer just this medium-sized field, but it is a densely packed one in athleticism and racing ability, and things look set for a rather furious four-to-five-way battle between the best of them into, and out of, Belmont’s infamously wide turns. Post time for the $1.5 million mile-and-a-half Race 12 is slotted for 7:02 p.m.; most of the ruddy, choking Canadian wildfire haze has been breezed off, and there is no rain forecast for the already-fast track. Race day inevitably sharpens the questions around each of the horses in it, but no race hones the questions around a horse more finely than the Belmont. Fox will be broadcasting the race in the U.S.

Before we dive in, an odds refresher on the field. We’ll be updating these until post time throughout the day.

Forte rather spectacularly missed the Derby, which led to him missing the Preakness


(Post Position, Horse, Jockey, Morning Line)

1. Tapit Shoes, Jose Ortiz, 20-1

2. Tapit Trice, Luis Saez, 3-1

3. Arcangelo, Javier Castellano, 8-1

4. National Treasure, John R. Velasquez, 5-1

5. Il Miracolo, Marcos Meneses, 30-1


6. Forte, Irad Ortiz Jr., 5-2

7. Hit Show, Manuel Franco, 10-1

8. Angel of Empire, Flavien Prat, 7-2

9. Red Route One, Joel Rosario, 15-1

(Source: NYRA, 6/9/2023)

As we know, Forte rather spectacularly missed the Derby, which led to him missing the Preakness, and that has meant that the juvenile champion has been met with an unfortunate 10-week gap in his seasoning. Many have registered the colt’s maturity and poise during his sophomore year and early going in his third year — during which he beat the eventual Kentucky Derby winner Mage as well as the Preakness winner National Treasure — but as we also know, all three-year-olds mature at different rates. There’s no stopwatch governing adolescence. Three-year-olds are still growing.


Another way to say that would be to say that the steep trajectory of improvement seen in the Brad-Cox-trained Angel of Empire is a strong marker of that maturity. And we don’t — or won’t — know what that means, either, when Angel of Empire is put up against the vicissitudes of a mile-and-a-half, but we do know that Angel of Empire is a ground-eater of the first order, no matter how much ground is put in front of him. He’s looking hot. All he has to do is the same as the other eight horses out there: Hold it together for longer than he has ever run and beat all of them.

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