A second starting gate won’t be needed for Saturday’s Belmont Stakes, but the one that will be set up in front of the stands will be almost as crowded as it's ever been for the final jewel of the 2013 Triple Crown.
The Belmont attracted 14 entrants, led by Kentucky Derby winner Orb and Preakness Stakes winner Oxbow. The race nearly got 15, but the connections of Always in a Tiz opted for the Easy Goer Stakes on the undercard.
A field of 15 would have been the largest since Caveat gave Woody Stephens his second of five straight Belmont winners in 1983. If all 14 go Saturday it will be the largest group to try the Belmont’s 12 furlongs since the same number started when Editor’s Note won in 1996. The only other time the field featured 14 or more starters was the ninth running in 1875, when 13 rivals chased Calvin home.
The field for the 145th edition is interesting to say the least.
Three of the entrants—Orb and the D. Wayne Lukas-trained duo of Oxbow and Will Take Charge—will make their third classic starts, matching the trio of Shackleford, Animal Kingdom and Mucho Macho Man who ran in all three races in 2011. Only one, the Lukas-trained Optimizer, started in all three last year.
Seven ran in the Kentucky Derby, skipped the Preakness and are back for the Belmont. The group is led by Golden Soul and Revolutionary, second and third, respectively, in the Derby. The others are Frac Daddy, Overanalyze, Giant Finish, Vyjack and Palace Malice
The remaining five are the so-called new shooters—Freedom Child, Incognito, Unlimited Budget and Midnight Taboo.
Unlimited Budget will be the first filly to run in the race since Rags to Riches won in 2007. Twenty one fillies competed prior to Rags to Riches, with only Tanya (1905) and Ruthless (1867) coming away with a victory.
Unlimited Budget’s entry gets a little more intrigue because she’ll be ridden Rosie Napravnik, giving the ladies, or at the least fans of the ladies, something additional to root for.
Here’s the field in post-position order with jockeys and morning-line odds:
1. Frac Daddy (Alan Garcia), 30-1
2. Freedom Child (Luis Saez), 8-1
3. Overanalyze (John Velazquez), 12-1
4. Giant Finish (Edgar Prado), 30-1
5. Orb (Joel Rosario), 3-1
6. Incognito (Irad Ortiz Jr.) 20-1
7. Oxbow (Gary Stevens), 5-1
8. Midnight Taboo (Garrett Gomez), 30-1
9. Revolutionary (Javier Castellano), 9-2
10. Will Take Charge (Jon Court), 20-1
11. Vyjack (Julien Leparoux), 20-1
12. Palace Malice (Mike Smith), 15-1
13. Unlimited Budget (Rosie Napravnik), 8-1
14. Golden Soul (Robby Albarado), 10-1