Of the 18 horses that have earned the most points in the Road to the Kentucky Derby standings, only three will run in Saturday’s Belmont, including points leader Tiz the Law, the morning line favorite. Tiz the Law was always a top Triple Crown contender but his stock has skyrocketed after several high-profile defections. Bob Baffert’s Nadal (the horse, not the tennis player) retired and his stablemate Charlatan is also sidelined with an injury. Maxfield is hurt, too, delaying his quest on the Kentucky Derby trail.
Post time: Saturday, 5:42 p.m. Eastern time, NBC
No. 1 Tap It to Win (6-1 on the morning line)
Trainer: Mark Casse
Jockey: John Velazquez
Tap It to Win, who has won both of his starts in 2020, led at every call in his last race and nearly set a track record, prompting his connections, including Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse, to supplement the flashy son of Tapit to the Belmont.
It remains to be seen if Tap It to Win is ready for the jump up in class. He was well beaten against stakes company in the Grade 1 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland (last out of 10 horses after being bumped at the start) and the Street Sense Stakes at Churchill Downs (10th place out of 10 horses with the race notes indicating he was “through after three quarters”).
No. 2 Sole Volante (9-2)
Trainer: Patrick Biancone
Jockey: Luca Panici
Biancone’s $20,000 investment in Sole Volante, a son of Japanese-bred, French-trained Karakontie (2014 Breeders’ Cup Mile winner), has already earned the trainer $293,310 on the racetrack, the most recent addition to the coffers came via a last-to-first win, netting $27,000 in a midweek optional claiming race at Gulfstream Park.
Sole Volante has also been credited with two triple-digit Brisnet speed figures as a 3-year-old. A career-best 102 in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay in February and a 100 in the Mucho Macho Man Stakes at Gulfstream in January. The only other horse in the field with two triple-digit speed figures as a 3-year-old is favorite Tiz the Law.
No. 3 Max Player (15-1)
Trainer: Linda Rice
Jockey: Joel Rosario
This son of Honor Code (2015 Eclipse award winner) became a Belmont Stakes contender with a win in the Grade 3 Withers Stakes at Aqueduct in February but he hasn’t raced since. Nevertheless, this lightly raced horse (three career starts) set new career highs for pace (94 Brisnet pace figure) and final speed (95) in that victory, showing he has matured since breaking his maiden in December. A sneaky contender.
No. 4 Modernist (15-1)
Trainer: Bill Mott
Jockey: Junior Alvarado
This son of Uncle Mo (American Champion 2-Year-Old of 2010 and sire of 2016 Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist) won the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds by a length, making Modernist one of two horses in this race with a Grade 1 or Grade 2 win as a 3-year-old.
No. 5 Farmington Road (15-1)
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Jockey: Javier Castellano
Farmington Road hasn’t won since breaking his maiden (on the third attempt) in January at Tampa Bay but he has hit the board in three starts as a 3-year-old, including a pair of graded stakes events. His pace numbers, both at the first and second call, are severely lacking for this level of competition and the one race in which he did hit par for pace was in the slop.
No. 6 Fore Left (30-1)
Trainer: Doug O'Neill
Jockey: Jose Ortiz
This late addition to the field was pointed toward the Woody Stephens after a four-month layoff but instead his connections decided to take their chances in the Belmont Stakes. He is coming off a wire-to-wire victory in the Group 3 UAE Two Thousand Guineas at Meydan Race Course in Dubai on Feb. 6 and has two other listed stakes wins on his resume. However, this front-runner has to prove he can get the nine furlong distance featured in this race.
No. 7 Jungle Runner (50-1)
Trainer: Steve Asmussen
Jockey: Reylu Gutierrez
After winning twice as a 2-year-old at Remington Park the well-connected Calumet Farm colt is 0-for-4 since, never finishing better than fifth in three starts during his 3-year-old campaign. His top Brisnet speed figure, 79, was earned in November and wouldn’t be close to par for a low-level allowance race at Belmont Park.
No. 8 Tiz the Law (6-5)
Trainer: Barclay Tagg
Jockey: Manuel Franco
This descendant of Tapit (leading sire in North America each year from 2014 to 2016) won the Grade 1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park in March by 4¼ lengths, earning a 100 Brisnet speed figure and a career-best 108 speed figure in the Grade 3 Holy Bull around the same oval in February. Tiz the Law also won a Grade 1 event as a 2-year-old (Champaign Stakes at Belmont). No other horse in the field has two Grade 1 wins in addition to two speed figures topping 100 or more.
No. 9 Dr Post (5-1)
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.
After breaking his maiden in his second career start in March at Gulfstream Park, producing a career-best Brisnet Speed Figure of 104, Todd Pletcher’s colt overcame a tough trip in his last start before pulling clear for a 1 1/2-length win in the Unbridled Stakes at the same track in April. (He bumped horses twice in the race and forced wide early around the first turn.) He has yet to face graded stakes competition, nor has he tried any distance longer than 9½ furlongs.
No. 10 Pneumatic (8-1)
Trainer: Steve Asmussen
Jockey: Ricardo Santana Jr.
Trainer Steve Asmussen won the 2016 Belmont with Creator but getting Pneumatic across the finish line first against this field will be a more difficult endeavor. The son of Uncle Mo beat optional allowance company in April yet couldn’t turn a dream trip in the Grade 3 Matt Winn Stakes at Churchill Downs into anything better than a third-place finish.
According to Trakus data, Pneumatic traveled 54.3 feet per second after taking into account he traveled 51 feet less than the eventual winner, Maxfield, giving him the fifth-best raw speed in the Matt Winn Stakes.