Belmont Day 2023 stakes picks

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Forte, last year’s champion 2-year-old male who was forced to scratch from the Kentucky Derby with a minor injury, looms large off the layoff in Saturday’s 155th Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park. Adam Coglianese/NYRA Photo.

Ready or not, the main event and closing act have arrived.

The 155th running of the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets headlines a spectacular card featuring nine graded stakes Saturday at Belmont Park. The 1 ½-mile Belmont, truly the Test of the Champion, headlines the day with champion Forte, Preakness winner National Treasure, Tapit Trice, Angel Of Empire and six others in the field.

How will the 2023 Triple Crown, which has been hampered by a rash of breakdowns in Kentucky and comeback (of sorts) win by modern racing’s classics maestro in Maryland, sort itself out? The answers come in New York and the Empire State’s biggest day in a legendary setting.

When the dust – and hopefully any lingering smoke from wildfires that engulfed the city this week – settles we figure to know who the leader of the 3-year-old male division will be heading into the summer.

Plenty of other stars appear in the entries, none bigger than Cody’s Wish in the Grade 1 Met Mile, Caravel in the Grade 1 Jaipur, General Jim in the Grade 1 Woody Stephens and Up To The Mark in the Grade 1 Manhattan.

The handicapping team from This Is Horse Racing and The Saratoga Special are back for more, and looking to uncover some winners. They have nine opportunities to add to the season total. We’ll also know who the handicapping champ for the spring season by the time the 12 furlongs of the Belmont are complete.

Sean Clancy, who came into the weekend with a three-win advantage and 12 winners for the season, continued his strong run with three more winners on Friday’s card. Sean picked In Italian in the Grade 1 Just A Game, Pretty Mischievous in the Grade 1 Acorn and Poppy Flower in the Grade 3 Intercontinental.

Tom Law also picked three winners, tabbing In Italian, Pretty Mischievous and Siskany in the Grade 2 Belmont Gold Cup. He sits at 12 wins for the season. John Shapazian and Paul Halloran each picked two winners Friday, while Rob Whitlock and Joe Clancy came away with one winner apiece. Jessica Paquette and Charles Bedard were blanked Friday.

Here are the picks for Belmont Day, Saturday, June 10. Good luck, be safe and have fun.

Race 3. True North Stakes (G2). $250,000, 4-year-olds and up, 6 ½ furlongs. Post time 12:29 p.m. ET.

Fast start to the stakes action with a field of six led by last year’s champion male sprinter and Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Elite Power. Juddmonte’s 5-year-old son of Curlin hasn’t been out since dominating win in Riyadh Dirt Sprint in late February but shows plenty of useful works including three straight at the Oklahoma Training Track in Saratoga. Godolphin’s Strobe has always been meant for spots like this and looms the main threat.

  • John: Elite Power, Strobe, Today’s Flavor.
  • Jessica: Strobe, Elite Power, Fearless.
  • Sean: Elite Power, Strobe, Today’s Flavor.
  • Paul: Elite Power, Strobe, Today’s Flavor.
  • Tom: Elite Power, Strobe, Fearless.
  • Joe: Elite Power, Strobe, Today’s Flavor.
  • Charles: Elite Power, Strobe, Today’s Flavor.
  • Rob: Elite Power, Strobe, Today’s Flavor.

 Race 5. Poker Stakes (G3). $200,000, 4-year-olds and up, 1 mile, turf. Post time 1:44 p.m.

Longtime turf stakes on the circuit lands on Belmont Day for the first time. Field of just seven but others were perhaps scared off by the presence of Chez Pierre, winner of the Grade 1 Maker’s Mark Mile in mid-April and in his most recent start. Emmanuel and Filo Di Arianna have Grade 1 experience and Emaraaty comes in very fresh, with his last start a win in the Grade 2 Bernard Baruch on closing weekend at Saratoga last September.

  • John: Chez Pierre, Emaraaty, Anaconda.
  • Jessica: Emmanuel, Chez Pierre, Emaraaty.
  • Sean: Chez Pierre, Emaraaty, Emmanuel.
  • Paul: Chez Pierre, Anaconda, Filo Di Arianna.
  • Tom: Chez Pierre, Emaraaty, Dreams Of Tomorrow.
  • Joe: Chez Pierre, Filo Di Arianna, Dreams Of Tomorrow.
  • Charles: Chez Pierre, Filo Di Arianna, Emmanuel.
  • Rob: Chez Pierre, Anaconda, Emaraaty.

Race 6. Brooklyn Stakes (G2). $250,000, 4-year-olds and up, 1 1/2 miles. Post time 2:22 p.m.

The only other – at least we think – chance to see a main track event start in front of the stands and one of New York’s great traditions. Dirt marathon brings together several of the usual and expected subjects, with Warrant, Red Run and Next – the first three in the Isaac Murphy Marathon during Derby Week – and long-distance specialist and 2021 winner Lone Rock in the field. The only one missing is Fearless, and he goes in the 6 1/2-furlong True North.

  • John: Warrant, Next, Lone Rock.
  • Jessica: Red Run, Portos, Warrant.
  • Sean: Warrant, Red Run, Calibrate.
  • Paul: Red Run, Warrant, Next.
  • Tom: Warrant, Bright Future, Lone Rock.
  • Joe: Next, Bright Future, Warrant.
  • Charles: Next, Portos, Bright Future.
  • Rob: Warrant, Next, Bright Future.

Race 7. Ogden Phipps Stakes (G1). $500,000, 4-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, 1 1/16 miles. Post time 3:02 p.m.

How about this one? Clairiere returns to defend her title – where she topped champion Malathaat last year – against familiar foes Secret Oath and Search Results, along with recent Grade 1 La Troienne winner Played Hard. Clairiere and Secret Oath slugged it out in the Grade 1 Apple Blossom in mid-April, with the former managing a neck victory in what was her most recent start. Secret Oath came back for the La Troienne and fired her shot, but came up a neck short again to Played Hard. Don’t sleep on Search Results or Pass The Champagne, they’re more than capable with their best effort.

  • John: Clairiere, Played Hard, Play The Champagne.z
  • Jessica: Clariere, Secret Oath, Pass The Champagne.
  • Sean: Clairiere, Played Hard, Secret Oath.
  • Paul: Clairiere, Played Hard, Secret Oath.
  • Tom: Clairiere, Search Results, Played Hard.
  • Joe: Clairiere, Search Results, Played Hard.
  • Charles: Clarriere, Secret Oath, Played Hard.
  • Rob: Pass The Champagne, Played Hard, Clairiere.

Race 8. Woody Stephens Stakes presented by Mohegan Sun (G1). $400,000, 3-year-olds, 7 furlongs. Post time 3:42 p.m.

Always one of the best races on the Belmont Day undercard and the 2023 follows suit. Pat Day Mile winner General Jim takes on the likes of Fort Bragg, Arabian Lion and the unbeaten duo of New York Thunder and Drew’s Gold. Field of 13 and one could make a case for almost all of them.

  • John: Arabian Lion, Federal Judge, General Jim.a
  • Jessica: Gun Pilot, Fort Warren, Arabian Lion.
  • Sean: General Jim, Arabian Lion, Fort Bragg.
  • Paul: Arabian Lion, Fort Bragg, General Jim.
  • Tom: General Jim, Gun Pilot, Arabian Lion.
  • Joe: Fort Warren, General Jim, Arabian Lion.
  • Charles: Drew’s Gold, New York Thunder, Fort Bragg.
  • Rob: General Jim, Arabian Lion, Federal Judge.

Race 9. Jaipur Stakes (G1). $400,000, 3-year-olds and up, 6 furlongs, turf. Post time 4:19 p.m.

We are always hyper for the Jaipur, our friend Kerry Carlson’s favorite race. Now that we got that out of the way, how about this one? Last year’s winner Casa Creed returns and takes on Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winner Caravel. There are a dozen others in the field – not counting two AEs – and potentially some big prices for legit runners. Go Bears Go, Dr Zempf, Arrest Me Red, Nothing Better and Big Invasion all fit that bill.

  • John: Caravel, Casa Creed, Arrest Me Red.
  • Jessica: Nothing Better, Go Bears Go, Caravel.
  • Sean: Casa Creed, Caravel, Big Invasion.
  • Paul: Big Invasion, Caravel, Dr Zempf.
  • Tom: Big Invasion, Caravel, Casa Creed.
  • Joe: Casa Creed, Caravel, Yes And Yes.
  • Charles: Nothing Better, Caravel, Casa Creed.
  • Rob: Go Bears Go, Dr Zempf, Air Force Red.

Race 10. Hill ‘n’ Dale Metropolitan Handicap (G1). $1 million, 3-year-olds, 1 mile. Post time 5:04 p.m.

The remarkable Cody’s Wish puts his five-race win streak on the line against familiar recent rivals Hoist The Gold and Slow Down Andy, California shipper Dr. Schivel, Charge It, Repo Rocks, Zandon and White Abarrio. Nothing more befitting a Grade 1 than this one, but all eyes on Cody’s Wish as he tries to give Bill Mott his first Met Mile win.

  • John: Cody’s Wish, Repo Rocks, Zandon.
  • Jessica: Cody’s Wish, Repo Rocks, Zandon.
  • Sean: Cody’s Wish, Charge It, Repo Rocks.
  • Paul: Cody’s Wish, Zandon, Dr. Schivel.
  • Tom: Cody’s Wish, Charge It, Zandon.
  • Joe: Cody’s Wish, Dr. Schivel, Charge It.
  • Charles: Zandon, Cody’s Wish, White Abarrio.
  • Rob: White Abarrio, Cody’s Wish, Dr. Schivel.

Race 11. Resorts World Casino Manhattan (G1). $750,000, 4-year-olds and up, 1 1/4 miles, turf. Post time 5:54 p.m.

Warren Point faded last time after troubled trip in the Grade 1 Man o’ War and now he shortens up to lead the Godolphin and Charlie Appleby 1-2 international punch with Ottoman Fleet. American’s Up To The Mark, Red Knight and Rockemperor try to keep the money at home, with the former coming off a victory in the Grade 1 Old Forester Bourbon Turf Classic on Derby Day.

  • John: Ottoman Fleet, Warren Point, Up To The Mark.
  • Jessica: Warren Point, Red Knight, Ottoman Fleet.
  • Sean: Ottoman Fleet, Up To The Mark, Red Knight.
  • Paul: Ottoman Fleet, Up To The Mark, Warren Point.
  • Tom: Up To The Mark, Ottoman Fleet, Red Knight.
  • Joe: Warren Point, Ottoman Fleet, Up To The Mark.
  • Charles: Up To The Mark, Strong Quality, Ottoman Fleet.
  • Rob: Ottoman Fleet, Up To The Mark, Warren Point.

Race 12. Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets (G1). $1.5 million, 3-year-olds, 1 1/2 miles. Post time 7:02 p.m.

The main event and the closing act to a turbulent Triple Crown season. Champion Forte, scratched out of the Kentucky Derby, gets the chance to put his name back on top of the division against Preakness winner National Treasure, stablemate and Derby seventh Tapit Trice, Derby third Angel Of Empire, Hit Show and Red Route One. Arcangelo also tries to keep strong record of Peter Pan runners going in American racing’s toughest test and with potential history on the line for trainer Jena Antonucci. National Treasure and John Velazquez took the field all the way in the Preakness and look like the legit pace here. Will he have company? Perhap in the form of longshot Il Miracolo and Red Route One. But who else?

  • John: Forte, Angel Of Empire, Tapit Trice.
  • Jessica: Arcangelo, Red Route One, Angel Of Empire.
  • Sean: Tapit Trice, Angel Of Empire, Forte. 
  • Paul: Arcangelo, Tapit Trice, National Treasure.
  • Tom: Forte, National Treasure, Hit Show.
  • Joe: Tapit Trice, Angel Of Empire, Arcangelo.
  • Charles: Arcangelo, National Treasure, Angel Of Empire.
  • Rob: Tapit Trice, National Treasure, Tapit Shoes.