Horse racing's Triple Crown concludes on Saturday when nine 3-year-olds leave the starting gate in the 2023 Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park outside New York City. For the fifth straight year, no Triple Crown will be on the line in the Belmont; Kentucky Derby winner Mage lost the Preakness Stakes and is skipping Saturday's race. However, the Belmont features an evenly matched field, with four horses listed at 5-1 or shorter on the morning line.
The race will be headlined by the return of Forte. The reigning 2-year-old champion and Florida Derby winner, Forte was the morning-line favorite for the Kentucky Derby but was scratched from the Derby on the morning of the race with a minor foot bruise and then was also forced to miss the Preakness. On Saturday, five weeks after losing his chance at the first leg of the Triple Crown, Forte gets his shot at the final leg. He is the 5-2 morning-line favorite.
The Belmont also will feature the return of trainer Bob Baffert to the race after a five-year absence. The 70-year-old Baffert, who has won the race three times, last started a runner in the Test of the Champion in 2018 when his Justify completed the Triple Crown and Restoring Hope finished eighth. He was unable to start a runner in last year's Belmont because of a suspension stemming from repeated medication violations. For Saturday, he sends out Preakness Stakes winner National Treasure, who is the 5-1 fourth choice on the morning line.
Another trainer is looking to make history on Saturday. Jena Antonucci can become the first female trainer to win a Triple Crown race when she sends out Peter Pan Stakes winner Arcangelo. A trainer since 2010, Antonucci has won 160 races, and her horses have earned more than $6.3 million in her career, but she has never even started a horse in a Triple Crown race. That will change on Saturday when she saddles the improving Arcangelo, who is an 8-1 longshot.
This year's race takes place on the 50th anniversary of one of the most memorable moments in all of sports: Secretariat's 31-length tour de force in the 1973 Belmont.
Below, we'll take you through everything to know about this year's Belmont, from profiles of all the horses involved to info about the race, to where to find official betting strategy, including win picks and exotic plays, from a host of SportsLine experts.
What to know about the 155th Belmont Stakes
- What 155th Belmont Stakes
- Where Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y.
- Who Nine 3-year-old horses
- Purse $1.5 million
- Distance 1½ miles
- Post time 7:02 p.m. ET
- Network FOX
- Weather forecast Mostly sunny with a high of 76 degrees
Belmont Stakes morning-line odds
- 1 Tapit Shoes 20-1
- 2 Tapit Trice 3-1
- 3 Arcangelo 8-1
- 4 National Treasure 5-1
- 5 Il Miracolo 30-1
- 6 Forte 5-2
- 7 Hit Show 10-1
- 8 Angel of Empire 7-2
- 9 Red Route One 15-1
Road to the Belmont Stakes
The road to New York began last year. Here are the most significant races of the Belmont trail:
Nov. 4, Breeders' Cup Juvenile This was the coming-out party for Forte, who scored a neck win in the most prestigious 2-year-old race of the year. The victory helped him earn champion 2-year-old honors for 2022 and made him one of the early favorites for the Kentucky Derby. National Treasure finished third.
Feb. 11, Withers Stakes Hit Show beat an overmatched field to win the nine-furlong Withers by 5½ lengths.
Feb. 18, Risen Star Stakes This race, which was won by Angel of Empire, has produced the winners of both the Jeff Ruby Steaks (Two Phil's) and Arkansas Derby (Angel of Empire), who returned to run second and third, respectively, in the Kentucky Derby.
Feb. 25, Rebel Stakes Red Route One rallied to be second by a length in a race run on a sloppy track and with a fast early pace.
March 4, Fountain of Youth Stakes Forte made a smashing 2023 debut, winning by 4¼ easy lengths. Il Miracolo finished a well beaten sixth.
March 11, Tampa Bay Derby Tapit Trice overcame a slow start to beat a suspect field.
April 1, Florida Derby Forte confirmed his status as the Kentucky Derby favorite with a win over the lightly raced Mage, but the victory came with some uneasy moments for his connections as he looked beaten until the final strides. Il Miracolo again finished a well beaten sixth.
April 1, Arkansas Derby Angel of Empire stamped himself as a strong contender for the Run for the Roses with a powerful finish in a convincing win, but the quality of that field has been questioned. Red Route One's patented late kick lacked its usual punch as he finished sixth.
April 8, Blue Grass Stakes Tapit Trice showed a new ability to get into a race early and chased down Verifying, who received a perfect trip up front.
April 8, Santa Anita Derby Under then-trainer Tim Yakteen, National Treasure ran a non-threatening fourth.
April 8, Wood Memorial Sent off as the favorite, Hit Show encountered a tough trip, losing to longshot Lord Miles by a nose.
April 22, Bath House Row Stakes Red Route One rallied from 11 lengths back to nip Tapit Shoes by a head.
May 6, Kentucky Derby Mage used a powerful late kick to win the first leg of the Triple Crown. Angel of Empire rallied for third, Hit Show stayed on to be fifth and Tapit Trice ran a non-threatening seventh.
May 13, Peter Pan Stakes In his first start facing winners, Arcangelo showed toughness in grinding out a head victory over the well regarded Bishops Bay.
May 20, Preakness Stake Back in the barn of Bob Baffert, National Treasure set a slow early pace and went gate-to-wire to win the second leg of the Triple Crown. Red Route One ran evenly to finish fourth.
SportsLine expert picks
SportsLine has four great horse racing experts who have locked in their Belmont picks. Here's a preview of each:
Michelle Yu, an on-air host and reporter with a background training horses who has provided racing analysis for TVG, HRTV and the Breeders' Cup, correctly picked the winner (Mo Donegal) and exacta (Mo Donegal and Nest) in last year's Belmont Stakes. This year she has been red-hot. She has crushed the Saudi Cup, riding a 15-1 winner, nailed Derma Sotogake to win the UAE Derby and hit the exacta in the Santa Anita Derby. In the last three weeks, she has hit the exacta in the Preakness Stakes and Hollywood Gold Cup and had both the winner and exacta in the Summertime Oaks. For Saturday, Yu is down on the chances of Forte. Instead she has her eyes on a horse who is "finding his stride." Check out Yu's full Belmont Stakes wagering strategy at SportsLine.
Bob Weir, a two-time qualifier for the prestigious National Horseplayers Championship in Las Vegas and a member of the Beyer Speed Figure-making team, crushed the Kentucky Derby prep races last year, hitting the superfecta in the Blue Grass Stakes and exactas in the Fountain of Youth Stakes and Tampa Bay Derby and hit the exacta in the Belmont Stakes. This year he is low on Forte at the Belmont but is high on a longshot with "a lot to like." Weir also is high on a double-digit longshot who is "deserving of some respect." Get Weir's full Belmont Stakes wagering strategy at SportsLine.
Jody Demling, who has nailed four of the last five Belmont winners, is high on National Treasure but is especially high on a double-digit longshot who has "looked sharp in his return to the track." Find Demling's full Belmont Stakes wagering strategy at SportsLine.
Gene Menez -- who correctly called National Treasure to win the Preakness Stakes and nailed six races in a seven-race stretch earlier this year -- is low on Belmont Stakes favorite Forte. Instead Menez's top pick is a horse who's "sitting on a big effort." He also is high on a double-digit longshot who is coming off a "sneaky good race." Menez's full Belmont Stakes wagering strategy is available at SportsLine.
Belmont Stakes horses (morning-line odds)
1 Tapit Shoes (20-1)
- Trainer Brad Cox
- Jockey Jose Ortiz
- Last race Second in the Bath House Row Stakes by a head
- Career record 5 starts: 1 win, 1 second, 1 third
- Career earnings $82,878
- Best career Beyer Speed Figure 91 (2023 Bath House Row Stakes)
- Sire Tapit
The least accomplished of trainer Brad Cox's three entrants, Tapit Shoes enters the Belmont with only one career win and will be facing graded stakes competition for the first time. He is, however, a son of Tapit, and sons of Tapit have won this race four times. He also has improved his Beyer Speed Figures with every race though his career-best Beyer of 91 is the second lowest in the field. He will need to take a major step forward in order to factor on Saturday.
2 Tapit Trice (3-1)
- Trainer Todd Pletcher
- Jockey Luis Saez
- Last race Seventh in the Kentucky Derby by 9¼ lengths
- Career record 6 starts: 4 wins, 1 third
- Career earnings $883,650
- Best career Beyer Speed Figure 99 (2023 Blue Grass Stakes)
- Sire Tapit
A $1.3 million purchase two years ago, Tapit Trice is the most expensive horse in this year's Belmont Stakes field. He entered the Kentucky Derby as one of the favorites but was never able to get his preferred spot on the outside and finished a non-threatening seventh. Since that race he has reportedly trained well for the Belmont. Moreover, his sire, Tapit, has sired four Belmont Stakes winners, and his trainer, Todd Pletcher, has trained four Belmont Stakes winners.
3 Arcangelo (8-1)
- Trainer Jena Antonucci
- Jockey Javier Castellano
- Last race First in the Peter Pan Stakes by a head
- Career record 4 starts: 2 wins, 1 second
- Career earnings $167,400
- Best career Beyer Speed Figure 97 (2023 Peter Pan Stakes)
- Sire Arrogate
Trainer Jena Antonucci is trying to become the first female trainer ever to win a Triple Crown race, and her Arcangelo is improving with every race. He has won his last two starts and is coming off a gutsy victory in the Peter Pan Stakes, the local prep for the Belmont. Despite being a modest $35,000 purchase two years ago, Arcangelo is bred to excel at the Belmont distance. His female family already has produced two Belmont Stakes winners: Rags to Riches and Jazil.
4 National Treasure (5-1)
- Trainer Bob Baffert
- Jockey John Velazquez
- Last race First in the Preakness Stakes by a head
- Career record 6 starts: 2 wins, 1 second, 2 thirds
- Career earnings $1,335,000
- Best career Beyer Speed Figure 98 (2023 Preakness Stakes)
- Sire Quality Road
Trainer Bob Baffert is back at the Belmont after a five-year absence. He has not started a runner in the Test of the Champion since 2018 when Justify completed the Triple Crown and Restoring Hope finished eighth. Baffert enters this year's race with National Treasure, who went gate-to-wire in winning the Preakness Stakes three weeks ago and will almost certainly try to employ those same frontrunning tactics on Saturday.
5 Il Miracolo (30-1)
- Trainer Antonio Sano
- Jockey Marcos Meneses
- Last race First in an allowance race by 1¾ lengths
- Career record 10 starts: 2 wins, 3 seconds
- Career earnings $103,125
- Best career Beyer Speed Figure 77 (2023 allowance race)
- Sire Gun Runner
His name, in Italian, translates to "the miracle," which may be what he will need to win the Belmont Stakes. The longest shot in the field, at 30-1, Il Miracolo has just two wins in 10 career starts and has never run a race fast enough to even be competitive with this field. His career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 77 is 14 points lower than the next slowest entrant, Tapit Shoes. In four previous graded stakes starts, Il Miracolo has finished no better than fifth.
6 Forte (5-2)
- Trainer Todd Pletcher
- Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr.
- Last race First in the Florida Derby by 1 length
- Career record 7 starts: 6 wins
- Career earnings $2,409,830
- Best career Beyer Speed Figure 100 (2022 Breeders' Cup Juvenile)
- Sire Violence
The reigning 2-year-old champion and Florida Derby winner was the morning-line favorite for the Kentucky Derby but was scratched the morning of the race with a minor foot issue. Because of the timing of the scratch he also could not run in the Preakness Stakes. So Forte makes his Triple Crown debut in the Triple Crown finale and does so coming off a 10-week layoff. A victory on Saturday would make him the clear favorite to win champion 3-year-old honors.
7 Hit Show (10-1)
- Trainer Brad Cox
- Jockey Manny Franco
- Last race Fifth in the Kentucky Derby by 6¼ lengths
- Career record 6 starts: 3 wins, 1 second
- Career earnings $494,375
- Best career Beyer Speed Figure 98 (2023 Kentucky Derby)
- Sire Candy Ride
He entered the starting gate in the Kentucky Derby as a 24-1 longshot but acquitted himself well, finishing fifth. His connections decided to skip the Preakness Stakes and run him in the Belmont, and he has become a bit of a wiseguy horse for the race. He has enough early speed to be near the front, and his damsire, Tapit, is the most influential distance sire in North America today. Trainer Brad Cox won this race two years ago with Essential Quality.
8 Angel of Empire (7-2)
- Trainer Brad Cox
- Jockey Flavien Prat
- Last race Third in the Kentucky Derby by 1½ lengths
- Career record 7 starts: 4 wins, 1 second, 1 third
- Career earnings $1,369,375
- Best career Beyer Speed Figure 104 (2023 Kentucky Derby)
- Sire Classic Empire
After Forte was scratched from the Kentucky Derby, Angel of Empire left the starting gate as the favorite and ran well, finishing a fast-closing third. Since then, he has reportedly trained well for the final leg of the Triple Crown. At the suggestion of jockey Flavien Prat, trainer Brad Cox has decided to put blinkers on Angel of Empire for the Belmont, which may help in getting this late runner a bit more involved early.
9 Red Route One (15-1)
- Trainer Steve Asmussen
- Jockey Joel Rosario
- Last race Fourth in the Preakness Stakes by 4¾ lengths
- Career record 10 starts: 2 wins, 2 seconds, 1 third
- Career earnings $732,525
- Best career Beyer Speed Figure 92 (twice)
- Sire Gun Runner
This late runner was a bit more forwardly placed in the Preakness Stakes, but that may have been more a result of the slow early pace than this colt showing more early speed. Despite being closer to the pace, he was not able to make up any ground, finishing fourth. On Saturday he makes his sixth straight start without a layoff. With his late running style, he would benefit from a pace meltdown up front, but the race does not project to have hot early fractions.