LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - On paper, the Belmont Stakes figures to be a two-horse affair: War of Will vs. Tacitus.
The accomplishments of these two far surpass those of the rest of the field that will line up for the mile and a half test on Saturday.
For this final leg of the Triple Crown, there’s plenty on the line for Preakness winner War of Will. If he takes the Belmont, the colt could be considered as the leader in this year’s Horse of the Year chase. It’s still early with plenty of major racing left on the calender, but let’s face the facts: two jewels on a resume would be outstanding.
Back in early March, War of Will was in just about everybody’s Kentucky Derby top five rankings. The colt was going along nicely in the Derby until his run-in with Maximum Security.
War of Will’s Preakness triumph was a gritty effort, and the colt ran through the wire like a focused pro. He should be a major player come Saturday.
Tacitus brings a lot to the Belmont table. The colt came to Louisville with plenty of momentum, having taken the Tampa Bay Derby and then the Wood Memorial.
Then, at Churchill, it took him some time to find his best stride. Tacitus battled down the Derby stretch and only lost by 3 1/4 lengths. Skipping the Preakness might make him a fresher horse than War of Will.
Will anybody else challenge the Belmont’s top two? Preakness runner-up Everfast seemed to wake up at Pimlico. Still he’s only captured one of 11 starts. The 3-year-old Tax finished a solid second to Tacitus in the Wood, but then didn’t run a lick in the Derby.
Spinoff showed promise after running second in the Louisiana Derby before a dismal effort in Louisville. Then there’s Belmont runner Bourbon War who hasn’t won since January. Japan’s entrant, Master Fencer, finished seventh in the Kentucky Derby, but was he just passing tired horses?
It’s sort of easy to see why it’s all about War of Will and Tacitus for the final jewel. I picked War of Will to win in Baltimore, so I’ll stay with him again. He could be up closer on the pace than Tacitus, and might get the jump on him when the real running begins in the latter stage of the race.
You can watch the Belmont Stakes on WAVE 3 News and NBC Sports on Saturday beginning at 4 p.m.