by Jeremy Plonk
June 7, 2017
The field of 12 assembled for Saturday’s Belmont Stakes lacks a standout favorite with the defection of Classic Empire, but it does not lack a fairly defined pace scenario. Based on today’s post position draw at Rockefeller Center, there are a few positional takeaways.
Meantime in post 9 should show the most speed in the field. He has Irish War Cry (post 7) and Gormley (post 3) to clear heading into the first turn, which means he may be hustled a bit initially before being asked to come back off the bridle and settle for the 12-furlong marathon. Twisted Tom could feel that squeeze some from the rail with tracking potential. Epicharis (post 11) may try to follow the path of Meantime by sticking just outside that rival. With Classic Empire out of the mix, Meantime may be allowed to set a more comfortable tone under Mike Smith than initially expected – but the “on the gas, off the gas” question frequently is not answered kindly by racehorses hustled to clear early.
Tapwrit is drawn beautifully in post 2 to save ground and sit just behind the leading trio or quartet. I don’t think you’ll see J Boys Echo too far off the tempo either, and he’s equally well-drawn in post 4. He should get a nearly identical trip to Tapwrit and first run on the first flight.
The balance of the Belmont field involves closers not impacted by the draw, though John Velazquez said he would prefer the left-eye-missing Patch to not have been far outside again as he was in the Derby.