Belmont Stakes Will Be Wet, Exciting Despite No Triple Crown Contenders

This year’s Belmont Stakes will likely be wet, thanks to Tropical Storm Andrea, which is working its way up the East Coast. But despite the sloppy track, the race is sure to be exciting.

Despite there being no Triple Crown on the line, 14 horses will vie for the lead around the track on Saturday afternoon. The winners of the first two legs, Orb and Oxbow, could pull off the win. But the other 12 horses shouldn’t be counted out.

Rain pelted the historic race track all day on Friday and isn’t supposed to let up until around 4 am local time on Saturday. New York racing officials predicted up to three and a half inches of rain could accumulate.

Despite sunny skies and higher temperatures on Saturday, there is no guarantee the track will be quickly transformed into a fast and firm surface. That forecast will likely move the odds in favor of horses who perform well on a wet track. They include Orb, Oxbow, Freedom Child, and filly Unlimited Budget.

Orb, who won the Kentucky Derby last month, has already proven his strength on a sloppy track as jockey Joel Rosario steered him easily down the stretch of a very wet Churchill Downs racetrack. Shug McGaughey, Orb’s trainer, added, “This is his home track, and he’s shown he can handle off going. He’s ready.”

But despite the Derby winner’s 3-1 odds, other horses could still pull off an upset. While Oxbow, a proven frontrunner, led the Preakness from start to finish, is expected to be out of the gate quickly, Freedom Child, with 8-1 odds, will likely launch out of the gate just as fast.

Tom Albertrani, Freedom Child’s trainer, stated that he will not change his strategy for the coveted Belmont Stakes. Luis Saez will steer the colt clear of the gate as fast as possible to get in the clear before the first turn. Albertrani added:

“Depending on the pace, as long as we’re in control early on, if he runs anything like he did in Peter Pan, I think he’ll do it on the front end. “

Albertrani also stated he believes Orb will be the main competition. But Unlimited Budget shouldn’t be counted out. The filly also has 8-1 odds for the Belmont and appears to love a wet racetrack. She won easily in her debut last November on an off surface. Trainer Todd Pletcher revealed he’s more worried about her endurance than he is about her ability to run the track.

Pletcher, who guided filly Rags to Riches to a Belmont win in 2007, explained, “She’s not as stoutly bred as I’d like to see. That will be her test. But you can say the same for most of these.”

Who do you think will win Saturday’s Belmont Stakes?

[Image via Dennis Donohue / Shutterstock.com]