The People’s Horse in this Year’s Kentucky Derby?

LOUISVILLE, Ky., July, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — This year’s Kentucky Derby could feature a “People’s Horse” like never before. Max Player, the Linda Rice-trained colt who currently sits 15th on the official Road to the Kentucky Derby leaderboard, is now available for a second public investment.

Prior to the son of Honor Code’s impressive 3rd in last month’s Belmont Stakes, more than 500 individual investors snapped up shares in the Triple Crown contender through SportBLX Thoroughbreds – a corporation that owns interests in several racehorses, including a 14% stake in Max Player.

Max Player also spearheads SportBLX’s latest offering, Annestes Thoroughbreds, which focuses solely on Kentucky-bred horses raised on SportBLX owner George Hall’s farm in Versailles, KY.

Hall – who owned 2011 Belmont Stakes winner, Ruler On Ice, and is the breeder and majority owner of Max Player – anticipates that more than 2,000 individual owners could be cheering the colt to win this year’s Run For The Roses on Saturday, September 5th.

“Owning a share of a horse that runs in the Kentucky Derby is the dream of millions of racing and sports fans, and we are thrilled to potentially be able to make that dream come true for so many of our investors this year,” said Hall.

In addition to racehorses, SportBLX’s technology platform enables sports fans to purchase shares in professional sports assets, including revenue-share interests in player earnings and equity interests in teams.

Max Player will next contest the Grade 1 Travers Stakes at Sarasota on August 8th.

Fans and investors have until 2:00 p.m. on August 8th, to purchase shares in Annestes Thoroughbreds via the SportBLX website. The offering is open to accredited and non-accredited investors and can be found at https://sportblx.com/offerings/annestes-thoroughbreds/.

For a video of Max Player click here

About SportBLXSportBLX is a technology platform that enables sports fans and investors to purchase shares in horse racing and sports assets via an online platform, including revenue-share interests in player earnings, and equity interests in teams. The company partners with existing brokers/dealers that distribute the securities. For more information visit www.sportblx.com.

West Virginia Derby Canceled, Horse Racing Commission Faces Financial Trouble

Once again, the Mountain State is impacted by COVID-19. Recently, the West Virginia Racing Commission confirmed the cancelation of the $500,000 West Virginia Derby.

The annual event is held at the Mountaineer Casino. This year’s running was scheduled for August 1.

Along with the derby, the $200,000 WV Governor’s Stakes was also canceled. The event was planning to run on the same date.

Mountaineer Park had intentions of holding the races without any fans in attendance. However, fears continued to grow in regards to welcoming in teams from other states.

With every horse coming equipped with an owner, trainer, and jockey, among others, there’s too much risk. Since there is no safety plan in place, the commission felt the best move was to cancel.

Commission executive director, Joe Moore, put it simply. According to the Charleston Gazette-Mail, Moore said:

“This is, in large part, due to concerns over COVID-19 restrictions.”

Another factor was the fact that the national racing schedule got moved around so much.

All three Triple Crown races were forced to change their regular plans.

2020 West Virginia Derby Cancelled due to coronavirus

Mountaineer racetrack

Mountaineer Racetrack officials had planned to run the Aug. 1 races without spectators, but concerns about bringing in owners, trainers and jockeys from out-of-state to the Chester track ultimately proved to be untenable, he said.

Jim Colvin, manager of racing operations at Mountaineer, said the rescheduling of the Kentucky Derby to Sept. 5 was another factor, with at least two thoroughbred horse owners opting out of the West Virginia Derby to prepare for the Triple Crown race.

Colvin said it would not be feasible to push the races back to a later date, or to substitute other stakes races this fall.

“At this time, we would have no makeup dates,” he told commissioners during the meeting, conducted telephonically.

Ellis Park’s 2-year old program continuing to produce winners

Ellis Park’s 2-year old program continuing to produce winnersHENDERSON, KY. (WFIE) – Ellis Park’s 2-year-old program has gone from being one of racing’s best-kept secrets to becoming common knowledge as a launching pad for stakes horses. Less heralded, but extremely productive, is the Riverside Downs training center right across the Ohio River in Henderson.

The latest poster child: Stonestreet Stable’s Hopeful Princess, winner of the first 2-year-old race in Kentucky this year and in her next start third in Saratoga’s opening-day feature Thursday, the Grade 3 Schuylerville Stakes.

Where to watch the horse races in Saratoga Springs, NY

Ellis Park mainstay John Hancock partnered with breeder Jackie Huckaby to race Hopeful Princess after the $27,000 high bid on the filly at Keeneland’s September yearling sale last year failed to reach Huckaby’s minimum sales price. Hancock then brought in Imaginary Stable’s John Guarnere as another owner in January…  more about Ellis Park’s 2-year old program:

How Sol Kumin Turned A Labour Of Love Into The World’s Leading Horse Racing Business

Is Sol Kumin the ultimate “hobby-preneur”? Amid a 20-year career on Wall Street, including the launch of his own hedge fund business, Kumin only became interested in horse racing in 2014 when a friend persuaded him to take a stake in a thoroughbred. Six years later, the financier has built one of the world’s most successful racing stables, with a string of winners of prestigious races to his name.

“The racing has turned into a more commercial endeavour but it certainly didn’t start out that way,” reflects Kumin, who confesses he quickly got “hooked” following his initial foray into the sport. “Initially, it was a bit of a journey to understanding there was so much more to this sport; we bought more horses, did some research on how to do things a little differently, and over time it became a business.”

Triple Crowns all over the world

by Art Parker

Operating on a new schedule, The American Triple Crown of 2020 has recorded only one event. The Belmont Stakes, usually run at 1 ½ miles and usually the last of the Triple Crown races, was held on June 20, 2020.

Tiz the Law, trained by Barclay Tagg, won the 1 1/8 miles journey without difficulty and stamped himself as the top three year old in the nation. The Kentucky Derby will be September 5th, and the Preakness will be October 3rd.

There is no official Filly Triple Crown for fillies. There was a version that featured the big filly races the same day as the Triple Crown races. Those races, all on the dirt, are: (A) Kentucky Oaks, run over 1 1⁄8 miles at Churchill Downs, (B) Black-Eyed Susan Stakes, run over 1 1⁄8 miles at Pimlico Race Course, and (C)  Acorn Stakes, run over 1 mile at Belmont Park.

Davona Dale won the three races in 1979, and she is the only filly with this accomplishment.

Due to the change in the Triple Crown schedule in 2020 only the Acorn Stakes has been run thus far. The Bob Baffert trained Gamine was an impressive winner by 18 lengths setting a stakes record.

Canada also has a Triple Crown for Canadian bred thoroughbreds. The races are: (A) The Queen’s Plate, run over 1 ¼ miles on the main track at Woodbine, (B) The Prince of Wales Stakes run over 1 3/16th miles on the main track at Fort Erie, and (C) The Breeders Stakes run over 1 1/2 miles on the turf at Woodbine. There have been a dozen winners of the Canadian Triple Crown and the last winner was Wando in 2003. The Canadian Triple Crown is getting a late start in 2020. The Queen’s Plate will September 12th, The Prince of Wales will be September 29th and The Breeder’s Stakes October 24th.

Across the pond in Great Britain, a Triple Crown dates back to the mid-1800s. The races of the English Triple Crown, all on turf are: (A) The 2,000 Guineas Stakes, run over a mile at Newmarket Racecourse in Newmarket, Suffolk, (B) The Epsom Derby, run over 1½ miles at Epsom Downs Racecourse in Epsom, Surrey, and (C) The St. Leger Stakes, run over 1 ¾ miles at Town Moor in Doncaster, Yorkshire.

Fifteen horses have captured the English Triple Crown. The most recent – and only winner since World War II – was Northern Dancer’s much heralded son Nijinsky II, in 1970. Since Nijinsky only Nashwan (1989), Sea the Stars (2009), and Camelot (2012) have won both the Guineas and the Derby. Between Reference Point in 1987 and Camelot in 2012, no Derby winner has entered the St. Leger.

Only the Guineas has been run thus far in 2020. The winner was Kameko, who was bred at Calumet Farm and sired by Kitten’s Joy. The Epsom Derby will be July 4th and the St. Leger will be September 12th.

The Irish Triple Crown races are all on the turf and all run at the Curragh. The races are: (A) The Irish 2,000 Guineas is run over one mile, (B) The Irish Derby is run over 1 ½ miles, and (C) The Irish St. Leger, which open to older horses also, is run over 1 ¾ miles. Only two horses have won the Irish Triple Crown – Museum in 1935 and Windsor Slipper in 1942. The 2020 Irish Derby has been held and the winner was Santiago, who collected trainer Aidan O’Brien’s 14th Irish Derby win. O’Brien took the Guineas with Peaceful. The Irish St. Leger is scheduled for September 13th.

The French Triple Crown races, all on turf, are: (A) Poule d’Essai des Poulains (French 2000 Guineas) is run over a mile at Longchamp, (B) Prix du Jockey Club is run at approximately 1 ¼ miles at Chantilly, and ( C ) Grand Prix de Paris is run 1 ½ miles at Longchamp. Only two horses have won the French Triple Crown – Zut in 1879 and Perth in 1899.

Victor Ludorum won the Guineas on May 11. and the race was held at Deauville since Longchamp was closed due to COVID-19. The Prix du Jockey Club will be July 5th. The Grand Prix de Paris will be July 14th.

The Australian Triple Crown races are all on the turf. The races are: (A) The Randwick Guineas run over one mile at Randwick Race Course, (B) Rosehill Guineas run over 1 ¼ miles at Rosehill Gardens Race Course and (C) the Australian Derby run over 1 ½ miles.

The Australian Triple Crown is complete for 2020. Shadow Hero was victorious in the Randwick Guineas. Castelvecchio captured the Rosehill Guineas and Quick Thinker won the Derby.

The Japanese Triple Crown races are all on the turf. The races are (A) The Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas) run over 1 ¼ miles at Nakayama Racecourse, (B) The Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby – ) run over 1 ¼ miles at Tokyo Racecourse and (C) The Kikuka Sho (Japanese St.Leger) run over 1 7/8 miles, at Kyoto Racecourse. Seven horses have won the Japanese Triple Crown. The last winner of the Japanese Triple Crown was Orfevre in 2011.

The Japanese Triple Crown could easily be captured in 2020. Contrail has won both the 2020 Guineas and the 2020 Derby. The Japanese St. Leger is all that remains and that will be October 25th

$67.7M in Handle on Belmont Stakes Day 2020. Tiz The Law Dominates.

Saturday’s 12-race Belmont Stakes Day card, featuring six graded stakes and highlighted by Tiz the Law’s victory in the 152nd running of the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Stakes, generated all-sources handle of $67,753,336.

Tiz the Law, the 3-year-old colt owned by Sackatoga Stable based in Saratoga Springs, became the first New York-bred to capture the Belmont Stakes since 1882.

To align with required health and safety measures implemented in New York to mitigate risk and combat the spread of COVID-19, the Belmont Stakes Day card was held without spectators in attendance. To properly account for the schedule adjustments made in response to the pandemic, the Belmont Stakes was run at a distance of 1 1/8-miles instead of the traditional 1 ½ mile test.

For the first time in history, the Belmont Stakes served as the opening leg of the Triple Crown, with the Kentucky Derby moved to September 5 at Churchill Downs and the Preakness rescheduled for October 3 at Pimlico Race Course.

All-sources handle on the 152nd Belmont Stakes itself, carded as Race 10, was $34,088,475.

The 2019 all-sources handle was $102,163,280, a NYRA record for a non-Triple Crown year.

The Belmont Park spring/summer meet continues through Sunday, July 12, with live racing conducted Thursday through Sunday. First post is 1:15 p.m.

Rich Nilsen’s Belmont Stakes Analysis

For additional information, visit www.NYRA.com.

Source: NYRA

Nilsen’s Belmont Stakes Analysis

Rich Nilsen handicapperby Rich Nilsen, founder of Agameofskill.com

To say this is an unusual Triple Crown year would be a huge understatement.  We have a 1 1/8 miles Belmont Stakes as the first jewel of the Triple Crown with the second and third legs not run until September and October, respectively.   With several recent,  major defections, this year’s running is a pretty weak group overall.  Let’s take a look, starting with the legitimate favorite #8 Tiz The Law.

#8 Tiz The Law has done little wrong for Sackatoga Stable and trainer Barclay Tagg, the same team that brought us the loveable Funny Cide.  The son of Constitution was an impressive debut winner last summer at Saratoga and then quickly stepped up into Grade 1 company where he crushed the field despite stumbling at the start.  He was then a troubled third in the slop in his last start as a juvenile.  He’s returned this year and rolled to victory to two stakes at Gulfstream Park, the G3 Holy Bull and the G1 Florida Derby.  The colt has the perfect tactical speed, two works over the local surface  and is simply faster  than the majority runners in this field.  His main fear is…

#1 Tap It To Win – trainer Mark Casse goes for his third consecutive victory in a Triple Crown race, so don’t take this colt lightly.  The Tapit runner was simply spectacular last time out at Belmont Park, crushing a quality allowance field.  This was a jaw-dropping performance because he easily outran some other speed while setting swift fractions and then just continued on to a dominating win.  I don’t know what happened to him in his two starts in Kentucky last fall, but he looks like a new horse as a sophomore colt.

#4 Modernist – The Bill Mott runner showed his talent by stepping up of a maiden win at Aqueduct in the mud to score in the G2 Risen Star at Fair Grounds over 10 rivals.  He didn’t have the best of trips last out in the G2 Louisiana Derby but still managed to run a respectable third.  Who would ever think we would see a ‘turn back’ horse in the Belmont Stakes?  It’s that type of year.  This guy is a major sleeper at square odds.  Get the latest Belmont Stakes news and notes.

#2 Sole Volante – was a horse to watch for me after some subtle trouble and then finishing strongly up the rail in the G2 Tampa Bay Derby.  This gelding has finished well in all six of his career starts, including a solid win last out at Gulfstream Park.  The biggest concern with this closer is jockey Luca Panici, an average jock who is unfamiliar with ‘Big Sandy.’  Knowing when to make your move over this track is a critical trait.

#10 Pneumatic – Uncle Mo runner won back-t0-back races at Oaklawn Park and then was a good third last time out behind Maxfield, who would be co-favorite in this race if he was running.  Owns good tactical speed and starts for a Belmont winning trainer in Steve Asmussen.  Certainly a contender but not sure he’s good enough to win.

#9 Dr Post – runner from St Elias Stable has done little wrong in three starts for Pletcher and is coming into this race in sharp form.   This is still a big step up off his last race at Gulfstream and he’s no bargain at 5/1 on the line.

#3 Max Player – has ability and is going in the right direction for Linda Rice.  He’s also been working well and has a new rider in Rosario, who is great on closers.  Chance for a piece.

#5 Farmington Road – could be overbet due to the Pletcher factor and there are better closers in this field.  Playing against this maiden winner.

#6 Fore Left – I had this horse in the Tremont S. victory last spring.  This isn’t the Tremont.

#7 Jungle Runner – Pass.

Wagering strategy:  Superfecta partwheel 1, 8 with 1, 2, 4, 8 with 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 9, 10 with ALL ($21 wager for every $.10 increment).

 

If you end up doing well on Belmont Stakes day, please consider giving a donation to one of the following great organizations:

Belmont Child Care Association which supports Anna’s House and the families and children on the New York backside (www.belmontchildcare.org).  New York, of course, was hit the hardest by the Covid-19 pandemic.  Another is Acacia Courtney’s Racing For Home, which supports ex-racehorses.

 

Belmont Stakes and Undercard Notes

Source: NYRA Press Office

A history-making Saturday will see the 152nd running of the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park serve as the Triple Crown’s first leg for the first time in history. Sackatagoa Stable’s Tiz the Law headlines the 10-horse field, and will look to become the first NY-bred in 138 years to win the American Classic.

To align with required health and safety measures implemented in New York to mitigate risk and combat the spread of COVID-19, the Belmont Stakes will be held without spectators in attendance. To properly account for the schedule adjustments and overall calendar for 3-year-olds in training, the race will be run at a distance of 1 1/8-miles, marking the first time since 1925 the contest will not feature its signature 1 1/2-mile test.

The Belmont Stakes will now kick off the Triple Crown sequence as the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby, the traditional opener, was moved to September 5 at Churchill Downs and the Grade 1 Preakness set to close the Classic series on October 3 at Pimlico Race Course.

Saturday’s 12-race card will feature six graded stakes and four Grade 1s, including the $250,000 Woody Stephens presented by Claiborne Farm, the $300,000 Longines Acorn and the $250,000 Jaipur [presented by America’s Best Racing], a “Win and You’re In” qualifier to the Breeders’ Cup Turf, providing a full day of racing. The Belmont Stakes, offering 150-60-30-15 points Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the top-four finishers, is carded as Race 10, will have a post time of 5:42 p.m. Eastern. NBC will have live coverage starting at 2:45 p.m. Eastern.

Tiz the Law, the 6-5 morning-line favorite who drew post 8, will bid to become just the fourth-ever state-bred Belmont winner and first since the 19th century, joining Ruthless [first winner in 1867], Fenian [1869] and Forester [1882].

Did you read – Handicapping Tip #58 – The Fewer This the Better

The Barclay Tagg trainee is the race’s only multiple graded stakes winner and has already registered a pair of Grade 1 triumphs, starting with his only previous Belmont Park appearance when he followed a debut win by posting a four-length victory in the Champagne in October.

After ending his juvenile year with a third-place finish in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club in November at Churchill – his only non-winning effort in five career starts – the Constitution colt has dominated the start of his sophomore campaign, capturing the Grade 3 Holy Bull in February at Gulfstream by three lengths, earning a 100 Beyer Speed Figure that makes him the only Belmont entrant to record a triple-digit number.

The talented bay followed with a 4 ¼-length romp in the Grade 1 Florida Derby at the Belmont distance on March 28 at Gulfstream. Tiz the Law will now look to give Tagg a career Triple Crown, following the path of another New York bred in Funny Cide, who won the 2003 Kentucky Derby and Preakness before running third in that year’s Belmont.

“It means a lot. You don’t get top contenders all the time,” Tagg said. “He’s a nice horse. Hopefully he’s as good we think. You work every day seven days a week, you just hope nothing happens and nothing goes wrong. But so far, so good. We’re pleased with the way he’s been doing and we’re ready for the race.”

Tiz the Law is a perfect 4-for-4 on fast tracks in his career. He has continued to train forwardly at Belmont, including a half-mile breeze in 50.42 seconds over Big Sandy on Sunday in his last work before the start of Triple Crown season.

“I asked him this morning and he said ‘don’t worry about it,'” Tagg joked. “Nothing seems to faze him in any way. I’d have rather been a little closer [post position-wise], but I don’t think it makes much of a difference. He’s coming in good; I can’t be happier with him.”

Jockey Manny Franco, NYRA’s leading rider the last two years, will have his first career Belmont start after piloting Tiz the Law to wins in three of his last four starts.

“We love Manny,” Tagg said. “He’s been good for us. He’s a very good rider.”

Sole Volante returned off a three-month layoff to best a six-horse optional-claiming field by three-quarters of a length on Wednesday at Gulfstream. That win showed trainer Patrick Biancone that the ultra-consistent son of Karakontie recaptured his early year form when he won the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis in February at Tampa before running second to King Guillermo in the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby on March 7.

Italian for “Flying Sun,” Sole Volante has radiated success, going 4-1-1 in six career starts. Owned by Reeves Thoroughbred Racing and Andie Biancone, Sole Volante drew post 2 at 9-2 odds. Luca Panici will ride.

“He arrived last night and ate everything this morning. So far, so good,” Biancone said. “He’s very talented. He’s been very good for us and trains his best all the time. We’ll see how good he is Saturday. No question, Tiz the Law is the horse to beat, but he totally [deserves] this opportunity.”

Trainer Todd Pletcher, a three-time Belmont winner, will saddle a pair of contenders in St. Elias Stable’s Dr Post and Farmington Road.

Dr Post was given a seven-month respite off a fourth-place debut last July at Belmont and returned by winning a seven-furlong maiden sprint on March 29 at Gulfstream. The Quality Road colt was moved up to stakes company last out, overcoming a troubled trip to win the 1 1/16-mile Unbridled on April 25 at Gulfstream.

“I think there’s a lot of talent there. I was very impressed by his maiden win,” said Pletcher. “With the amount of adversity he overcame in the Unbridled, it seems like he’s made a lot of progress in a short period of time. He’s a big, strong horse that seems to be improving. This is a big jump up in class and he’s a little light on seasoning, but he seems to have the talent.”

Pletcher said the barn has always had faith in the $400,000 purchase at the 2018 Keeneland Sale.

“Before Saratoga last year, we felt like he was one of our more promising 2-year-olds,” said Pletcher. “He had a bit of a setback after his maiden race, but he’s one we’ve always seen a lot of potential from.”

Dr Post, at odds of 5-1, drew post 9 with Irad Ortiz, Jr. aboard.

His stablemate, Farmington Road, has one win in six starts but has made his last three starts at the new Belmont distance, including a second in the Oaklawn on April 11 before running fourth in a division of the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby on May 2.

Pletcher said the late-running colt would benefit from a solid early pace.

“That would definitely help Farmington Road. He’s a one-run horse,” said Pletcher. “He likes to settle and come from off the pace. A true-run race would definitely be to his benefit.”

Farmington Road and Dr Post worked a half-mile in company in 48.87 seconds on the Belmont Park main track Saturday.

Pletcher said he was impressed by how Farmington Road is training into Saturday’s test.

“He’s training great into this race,” said Pletcher. “I thought his breeze over the track was very good. It seems like he’s in good form at the moment.”

Owned by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, Chrysalis Stables and Robert LaPenta, Farmington Road, 15-1, will break from post 5 in tandem with Hall of Famer Javier Castellano.

George E. Hall’s Max Player enters with a brief but impressive resume, going 2-1-0 in three starts, including back-to-back wins. Trainer Linda Rice, who will be looking to become the first female conditioner to win a Belmont Stakes, saw Max Player break his maiden by 4 ¼ lengths on December 17 at Parx and follow with a 3 ¼-length win in the 1 1/8-mile Grade 3 Withers, a Kentucky Derby prep race, in his 3-year-old bow on February 1 at Aqueduct.

“It would be great to win a Belmont or any Triple Crown race,” Rice said. “[The Withers] was on February 1 so we’re looking at four and a half months. He has improved dramatically in his training the past 60 days. I’m excited about running him this week.”

The son of Honor Code is listed at 15-1 and will depart from post 3 in tandem with Joel Rosario, who will be in search of a third Belmont Stakes after wins last year with Sir Winston and in 2014 aboard Tonalist.

“He was never very tactical before,” Rice said. “We had to work him in company with another horse to get him to perform and get enough out of his workouts. At this point, he’s seasoned, he no longer needs any company and he relaxes early in his workouts. When we ask him to respond, he responds, so we’ve been very happy with him.

“I would prefer to be little further to the outside with a horse that doesn’t like kickback but we are where we are,” she added.

Pam and Martin Wygod’s Modernist has also earned a winner’s circle trip in a graded stakes. Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, who won the 2010 Belmont with Drosselmeyer, Modernist broke his maiden at third asking in January at Aqueduct and used that as a springboard to capture a division of the 1 1/8-mile Grade 3 Risen Star on February 15 at Fair Grounds.

The Uncle Mo colt ran third in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby last out on March 21, earning a personal-best 85 Beyer Speed Figure, and will be returning to Belmont for the first time since running fifth in his debut in September.

Listed at 15-1, Modernist drew post 4 with Junior Alvarado on the call.

Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen, who won the 2016 Belmont with Creator, will saddle a pair of entrants in Calumet Farm’s Jungle Runner and Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Pneumatic.

Pneumatic [8-1] has made just three starts and won two of them. Graduating to stakes company last out, the son of Uncle Mo ran third in the Grade 3 Matt Winn on May 23 at Churchill. Ricardo Santana, Jr. will have the call from post 10.

Jungle Runner, the winner of the Clever Trevor as a sophomore, will be looking for his first blacktype in four starts as a sophomore, entering off an eighth in a division of the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby. New York native Reylu Gutierrez will have his first mount in a Classic, drawing post 7. The son of Candy Ride is listed at 50-1.

Trainer Mark Casse, fresh off his election into the Hall of Fame, will look to repeat in the Belmont after winning last year’s edition with Sir Winston. Casse, who also saw War of Will win the 2019 Preakness, will be going for his third Classic win in two years with Live Oak Plantation’s Tap It to Win.

The Tapit ridgling is on a two-race win streak against allowance company and will run in a graded stakes for the first time since running 10th in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity in October at Keeneland. Tap It to Win, at 6-1, will have the services of Hall of Famer John Velazquez, making his record 24th Belmont start, from post 1.

“We’re the speed in the race so the rail shouldn’t hurt us as much as it might’ve hurt other horses in the race,” said Casse assistant Jamie Begg. “There’s speed outside of us, so it’s not favorable necessarily, but I feel like with his style of running it shouldn’t make as much of a difference.

“He came out of his last race great,” Begg added. “Initially the plan was to see if we could get his energy up coming back in two weeks, but the horse hasn’t missed a beat and is probably training better coming out of that race than he was going into it. We’re pretty excited.”

Fore Left in Woody Stephens Stakes

Reddam Racing’s Fore Left, a bay son of Twirling Candy trained by Doug O’Neill, was expected to sprint seven furlongs in Saturday’s Grade 1 Woody Stephens presented by Claiborne Farm before the connections decided to take a run at the Belmont.

Fore Left, who made eight juvenile starts, graduated at first asking in May 2019 at Santa Anita and followed up in June 2019 with a 4 ½-length win in the Tremont, a 5 ½-furlong sprint at Saratoga Race Course.

Belmont Park horse racingThe versatile bay stretched out in distance in his next two starts at Del Mar finishing third in the six furlong Grade 2 Best Pal and fifth in the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity at seven furlongs. After an off-the-board effort in the 1 1/16-miles American Pharoah in September at Santa Anita, Fore Left returned to sprinting with a win in the 6 ½-furlong Sunny Slope in October at Santa Anita and a third in the six-furlong Golden Nugget in November at Golden Gate. He completed a lengthy campaign with a tenth in his turf debut in the Grade 3 Cecil B. DeMille in December at Del Mar.

Fore Left made a victorious seasonal debut last out in the Group 3 UAE Two Thousand Guineas in February, a one-turn mile at Meydan Racecourse.

Assigned morning-line odds of 30-1, Fore Left will emerge from post 6 under Jose Ortiz, who won the 2017 Belmont aboard Tapwrit.

The Belmont Stakes this Year. What You Need to Know.

Belmont Park crowd

copyright Agameofskill.com. No Fans this year!!!

When is the 2020 Belmont Stakes? The 152st Belmont Stakes is on Saturday, June 20. Post time will be at approximately 5:42 p.m. ET.

What is unique about the Belmont Stakes? The Belmont is the final test for horses seeking a Triple Crown title. Horses have an additional week of rest between races as opposed to the Preakness, but the Belmont is also the longest race of the three. [Not this year.  It’s only 9 furlongs.  Normally it is 12 furlongs or 1 1/2 miles].

Belmont Park is only a few miles away from New York City, and city dwellers can just hop on the Long Island Rail Road for a day at the races.

More about Belmont Stakes this Year: