Shapiro’s Belmont Stakes top 4

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TwinSpires Staff

June 9th, 2017

by Scott Shapiro

The featured 11th race on the Saturday afternoon card in New York is the 149th running of the Belmont Stakes.

The third leg of the Triple Crown did not attract a star-studded field with both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner bypassing the mile-and-a-half event and Preakness runner-up Classic Empire defecting due to an abscess in his right front foot. However, their absence has created one of the more wide-open renditions of the Belmont in recent memory, which in turn makes it a great race to gamble on.

After tossing Always Dreaming in the “Run for the Roses” and not giving enough credit to Cloud Computing in the Preakness three weeks ago I hope to salvage the 2017 Triple Crown season on Saturday afternoon much like I did when Creator and Destin hit the wire together a year ago.

Here is my top 4 in the 2017 Belmont Stakes:

#2 Tapwrit

The $1.2 million son of Tapit had a great winter on the West Coast of Florida rattling off a win and a second-place finish in the graded prep races at Tampa Bay Downs. Trainer Todd Pletcher then sent him for a final tune up in the Blue Grass (G2) in Lexington where he underperformed after a poor start.

Tapwrit drew the auxiliary gate in the Kentucky Derby and had a less than ideal voyage in the 1 ½-mile event at odds of 27-1, but did show more than his running line might suggest.

Pletcher has given him a five-week freshening and has put three solid works into him over the Belmont surface. He projects to sit a nice midpack trip under normal rider Jose Ortiz and make a sustained run much like he did in capturing the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) back in March.

His odds in the Win pool are likely to be shorter than I am willing to gamble on, but if he looks good before the race and is 6-1 or higher I will consider the option in addition to using him in all of multi-race wagers.

#7 Irish War Cry

New Jersey bred son of Curlin is the deserving 7-2-morning line favorite based on his best races and likely trip on Saturday. Trainer Graham Motion bypassed the Preakness and originally had no plans to compete in the Belmont, but Irish War Cry was training well and Motion decided he merited the chance to capture the third jewel of the Triple Crown.

Irish War Cry has bounced back from a poor effort before, winning the Wood Memorial (G2) at Aqueduct in convincing fashion after failing to fire in the Fountain of Youth (G2) a month earlier, and he will look to do the same after being on the wrong part of the track in Louisville, fading to 10th late at odds of 9-2 in the Kentucky Derby.

The Isabelle de Tomaso homebred is perhaps the likeliest winner in the 2017 Belmont Stakes, but is likely to be the prohibitive favorite. I will include him in my horizontal and vertical wagers, but have no interest in him at a short price in the Win pool.

#12 Patch

Like Tapwrit, the one-eyed son of Union Rags has been given time off since his effort in the Kentucky Derby by Pletcher. The lightly raced Calumet Farm colt has done little wrong in his career other than his 14th-place effort in the “Run for the Roses” when he drew the 20-post and never had a fair shake.

The Louisiana Derby (G2) has not been a productive prep as of yet, but I loved Patch’s runner-up effort in that nine-furlong event in his first start against winners. If he had a better post on the first Saturday of May I would have included him in my wagers.

Of the 12 probable starters in Saturday’s feature, Patch has one of the more intriguing bloodlines to go the mile and a half. He also picks up veteran New York jockey John Velazquez who knows “Big Sandy” as well as anyone.

He is not the likeliest winner of the 2017 Belmont Stakes, but Patch offers significantly better value than Tapwrit and Irish War Cry. At anything near his 12-1 morning line odds, he is a horse I will strongly consider a small Win bet on in addition to using him on all of my vertical and horizontal tickets.

#10 Multiplier

The Keeneland November 2014 purchase moves outside after drawing the rail in each of his two graded stakes starts this spring. The son of The Factor finished well to run down Hedge Fund in the Grade 3 Illinois Derby before a better than looks sixth place effort in the Preakness when he encountered traffic trouble in the stretch, yet was still apart of the group behind the top two finishers.

Trainer Brendan Walsh adds blinkers for the first time, which likely will lead to Multiplier being more prominently placed than he has been in his first several races. His pedigree does little to suggest he will appreciate the twelve-furlong distance, but I think he is sitting on a big race and offers significant value at 15-1 on the morning line. If he drifts up over that number and Patch gets over bet like he did in the Derby he could merit some consideration in the Win pool.

Selections for the 2017 Belmont Stakes:


Handicapper Scott Shapiro’s Spotlight Selections for the 2017 Belmont Stakes Day program are available at