Handicappers from disparate parts of the horse racing industry are sitting right now and attempting to profile the ten horses about to line-up for the 151st Belmont Stakes, staged this Saturday in New York.
As always history will be used as a guide, but there is no scientific way to build an FBI-style profile showing precisely what it takes to be a champion on Big Sandy although a look back at previous winners can at least give us a leg up.
Whatever horse wins the race this time around, comparisons will inevitably be drawn with previous Belmont Stakes champions, so using the last ten winners of this great race we see what led them to victory here and which of this year’s horses they most closely resemble regarding their profile.
2018 – JUSTIFY
Given that he was by Scat Daddy, Justify was never bred for the job at Belmont but his class just about got him through.
He only began his racing career in February but having taken in his prep runs, the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes en route to Triple Crown glory, he was a tired horse here and simply battled all the way to the wire to gain success.
2019 runner most like Justify: War Of Will. Not as classy as Justify, but he ran well in Kentucky, won the Preakness and is by War Front, himself usually a sire of those with speed more than stamina.
2017 – TAPWRIT
This colt is by Tapit, a winner over 1¼ miles with a family showing even more stamina when you trace it back, something that clearly helped him to get home over this distance.
Earlier in the year he had taken in some prep runs without ever winning or looking too dangerous, before running OK in the Kentucky Derby and missing the Preakness Stakes. Looking back, it was always evident that while the emphasis was on speed and not stamina, races were never run to his liking until he reached New York.
2019 runner most like Tapwrit: Bourbon War. By the same sire and having even more stamina on the dam’s side of his pedigree, Bourbon War has run well in, but not won, a couple of prep races in Florida in the spring and stayed on late to run hard to the line each time.
2016 – CREATOR
Steve Asmussen’s colt did manage to win the Arkansas Derby in April of 2016 but had to come from virtually last to first to do so, not laying up with the pace in the early stages.
He had to be held up again in the Kentucky Derby which did not suit, hitting trouble during the race and losing all chance, before battling all the way over the mile-and-a-half here to claim victory in the final strides, right under the shadow of the winning post. The sire? Tapit!
2019 runner most like Creator: Bourbon War. For reasons already given above. It’s in the blood with sons of Tapit that they will appreciate this extra distance.
2015 – AMERICAN PHAROAH
The first Triple Crown champion since 1978, Bob Baffert’s amazing colt won the hearts of racing fans all around the world.
Although there was a ton of speed on the dam’s side, his sire Pioneerof The Nile was all stamina and so even being tired having won the Derby and the Preakness, his staying on right to the wire here was never in doubt.
2019 runner most like American Pharoah: None. His breeding is unusual and he was a freak on the track, reaching a rating of 134 (around 117 will be enough to win this) and no other horse right now has a profile remotely like his.
2014 – TONALIST
Ready the fanfare……his sire was TAPIT! In this case there was plenty of stamina coming from the female side of his family too, and that clearly helped him around this track.
He’d started his season well in Florida and won at Belmont in May before missing out on the other Triple Crown races, but used his staying power to just about battle home and win it on the wire for jockey Joel Rosario.
2019 runner most like Tonalist: Bourbon War! This outsider could have a major shot if history is anything to go by, for sure. Tonalist, like Bourbon War, began his season at Gulfstream Park and showed the stamina and battling qualities synonymous with sons of Tapit.