2019 Belmont Stakes Dark Horses & Longshots

Posted by Derrick Harper on June 5, 2019 in

From a horse gambling perspective, the Belmont Stakes has been a feast or famine proposition for bettors with winners ranging from odds-on favorites and Triple Crown winners Justify and American Pharoah to longshots who crushed Triple Crown dreams in Da’Tara and Sarava.  Given the race’s length and absence of a true dominant horse, the possibility exists for the toteboard in Elmont to be lit up close to 7 p.m. eastern time on Saturday with many jubilant gamblers heading to the windows to cash big tickets.

2019 Belmont Stakes Dark Horses & Longshots

Everfast in the Mix

Of the two dead closers in the race, Everfast rates the best chance.  Dale Romans’ horse fired an absolute bullet at Churchill Downs (going 5 furlongs in 1:01) earlier this week and is ready to go.  Romans is an experienced horseman who has a knack for pulling upsets (see: Keen Ice beating American Pharoah in the 2015 Travers) and knows how to strategize a race.

Given the 12 furlong distance and the fact that every horse in the race will be tired towards the end, Romans knows to instruct Luis Saez to remain somewhat close to the early pace and in somewhat of a hybrid stalking/closing position.  At the Preakness, Everfast stormed to the wire, making up 22 lengths to nearly win the race.  Such a dramatic and sustained late close isn’t in the offing in Elmont on Saturday and the race plan must and will be adjusted accordingly.

The opposite of Everfast are Joevia and Tax, two horses than have early speed.  With solid early speed, carefully rationed out, Tax rates the best chance of horses who figure to go out early.  Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. is as skilled and able as they come and will know how to ration Tax’s speed.  Can Danny Gargan’s son of Arch get the 12 furlongs?  That’s another question.

Even with sensible fractions and a smartly ridden race, there is going to be a point when the rubber hits the proverbial road and Tax is going to need to find another gear, respond and repel challengers.  That is all an unknown and likely the reason the horse finds itself 15-1 on the morning line.

Intrepid Heart a Threat

A horse that has developed into somewhat of the wiseguy horse is Todd Pletcher’s Intrepid Heart.  Pletcher knows how to prepare a horse for the Belmont Stakes and is as good a conditioner as there is in America.

Now, the horse is lightly raced and just coming into his own.  The son of Tapit broke his maiden in mid-February at Oaklawn Park and has only faced graded stakes company once, in the Grade 3 Peter Pan.  Intrepid Heart can certainly be part of the early action but figures to sit mid pack and stalk the pace.  Whether he can get the distance is a question that has to be answered but it has to be answered by all 10 colts going postward Saturday in the Test of a Champion.