New York is home to a major sporting event once more after months on the sidelines due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The 152nd running of the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park in Elmont, NY on Saturday kicks off horse racing’s Triple Crown for the first time in its history after the Kentucky Derby and Preakness stakes were forced to reschedule amidst the pandemic.
With it comes a semblance of normalcy for athletics in the state, which hasn’t seen a competitive sport held within its confines since March 8.
A sizable dimension of the Belmont Stakes experience will be missing this year, however, as fans will not be allowed at the track to watch.
Racing fans will also see the usual test of endurance at Belmont shortened from 1 1/2 miles to 1 1/8 miles.
Still, the first jewel of the Triple Crown will be up for grabs in New York this weekend with a $1 million purse on the line for the 10 horses, jockeys, and trainers.
Here’s a look at the field and an introductory guide to each of the competitors:
Post 1: Tap It to Win
Jockey: John Velazquez
Trainer: Mark Casse
Career record: 6 starts, 3 wins, 1 second-place finish
Career earnings: $124,672
Style: This is a pace-setting horse who will be quick off the start along the rail. Usually, that’s a recipe for a lower finish at the Belmont Stakes if stamina is an issue, but a shortened race this year could see Tap It to Win in the mix for a top-three finish.
Post 2: Sole Volante
Jockey: Luca Panici
Trainer: Patrick Biancone
Career record: 6 starts, 4 wins, 1 second, 1 third
Career earnings: $293,310
Style: Sole Volante is a closer, meaning you won’t see his best push until the last furlongs of the race. Considering he’ll have just nine days between races, the main concern is if he’ll have enough in the tank to make that late push a serious one.
Post 3: Max Player
Jockey: Joel Rosario
Trainer: Linda Rice
Career record: 3 starts, 2 wins, 1 second
Career earnings: $173,500
Style: Max Player is a closer like Sole Volante, but he should stay closer to the lead pack. He hasn’t raced since Feb. 1 and the long layoff does raise questions, but trainer Linda Rice has had him working extensively at Belmont throughout the lengthy layoff.
Post 4: Modernist
Jockey: Junior Alvarado
Trainer: Bill Mott
Career record: 5 starts, 2 wins, 2 thirds
Career earnings: $388,800
Style: Modernist isn’t going to be the horse to set the pace out of the gates, but he will certainly press it to try and tire the leaders, thus pouncing at the end.
Post 5: Farmington Road
Jockey: Javier Castellano
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Career record: 6 starts, 1 win, 2 seconds
Career earnings: $110,000
Style: Farmington Road is a closer, but he needs a fast pack to be most effective. Considering the field doesn’t comprise of too many burners, he faces an uphill battle.
Post 6: Fore Left
Jockey: Jose Ortiz
Trainer: Doug O’Neill
Career record: 9 starts, 4 wins, 2 thirds
Career earnings: $355,902
Style: Expect Fore Left to bound out of the gates alongside Tap It to Win to set an early pace. While a long layoff since February is also working against him, this horse does its best work on dirt, which is what the Belmont Stakes is run on.
Post 7: Jungle Runner
Jockey: Reylu Gutierrez
Trainer: Steve Asmussen
Career record: 8 starts, 2 wins
Career earnings: $110,415
Style: Jungle Runner is a closer and his recent stats show just what happens when he’s not on his game. In his three 2020 starts, he’s lost by a combined 63 1/4 lengths — a big reason why his odds are so high.
Post 8: Tiz the Law
Jockey: Manny Franco
Trainer: Barclay Tagg
Career record: 5 starts, 4 wins, 1 third
Career earnings: $945,300
Style: The favorite for the 2020 Belmont Stakes is a stalker, meaning he’ll sit just behind the leaders and turn on the jets when it counts most. Tiz the Law has already won a Grade 1 stakes race at Belmont, dominating the Champagne Stakes back in October. This is a horse that has the pedigree to not just win the Triple Crown, but possibly the Quadruple Crown, as trainer Barclay Tagg suggested Tiz the Law ould also run in the Travers Stakes.
Post 9: Dr Post
Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Career record: 3 starts, 2 wins
Career earnings: $76,635
Style: Fans could see Dr Post following Tiz the Law closely as another stalker in the field. He has won both of his races as a three-year-old and a 1 1/8-mile track will see him in the running for a top-three spot.
Post 10: Pneumatic
Jockey: Ricardo Santana Jr.
Trainer: Steve Asmussen
Career record: 3 starts, 2 wins, 1 third
Style: Pneumatic has shown to run similarly to Tiz the Law and Dr Post — a big reason why he stepped up in class thanks to wins at Oaklawn Park and Churchill Downs. He’ll be near the front of the pack early on, possibly a bit more aggressive than the former two horses just mentioned, it just remains to be seen if he’ll be able to maintain that speed through the finish.