The 151st running of the Belmont Stakes will take place this evening at approximately 6:38 p.m. Eastern.
A total of ten horses will compete in the 1 ¹⁄₂-mile race which is held at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York. Also known as the “test of the champion,” the Belmont Stakes mark the final leg in the Triple Crown.
Riding these 3-year-old colts will be some of the finest jockeys in the business.
Here’s what you need to know:
Mike Smith Will Ride Bourbon War
Mike Smith is no stranger to the Belmont Stakes. Smith, who was born in New Mexico, has won the New York-based race three times over the course of his career and is currently the reigning jockey champion; in 2018, Smith rode Justify to a Triple Crown win, crossing the finish line in 2:28.18.
This year, Smith will ride Bourbon War for the first time.
Jose Ortiz Will Ride Tacitus
Jose Ortiz, 25, is a jockey hailing from Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico. According to Equibase, he’s placed first in 109 of 588 starts in 2019, good for a win percentage just under 19.
Ortiz won the 2017 Belmont Stakes aboard Tapwrit.
Tyler Gaffalione Will Ride War of Will
Tyler Gaffalione is a third-generation jockey out of Davie, Florida, son of Steve Gaffalione and grandson of Robert Gaffalione. He’s won 92 races in 2019, according to Equibase, capturing more than $6.4 million in purse money.
He’s looking to capture the second and third legs of the Triple Crown in 2019, having won the Preakness Stakes atop War of Will.
Julien Leparoux Will Ride Master Fencer
Of Julien Leparoux’s 336 starts in 2019, he’s either won, placed, or showed 135 times, according to Equibase. The 35-year-old jockey was born in Senlis, Oise, France.
Though he captured the most wins in U.S. thoroughbred racing in 2006 (a total of 403), he has yet to place first in any of the Triple Crown races.
Luis Saez Will Ride Everfast
Jockey Luis Saez will take the track at the Belmont Stakes atop Everfast. In 634 starts in 2019, Saez has captured first place 140 times, according to America’s Best Racing. What those stats do not reflect is that he was originally given the win at the 2019 Kentucky Derby. Saez crossed the finish line first aboard Maximum Security, only to be disqualified for interference.
“He was the first jockey to win and lose the Kentucky Derby in less than half an hour,” reported the Courier-Journal.
John Velazquez Will Ride Intrepid Heart
Hall of fame jockey John Velazquez will be guiding Todd Pletcher-trained Intrepid Heart to the finish line at the Belmont Stakes. Velazquez and Pletcher seem to have a good working relationship; Velazquez has won both the Kentucky Derby (in 2017, aboard Always Dreaming) and the Belmont Stakes (in 2007, riding Rags to Riches) atop Pletcher horses.
Velazquez has placed first in 65 of his 320 starts in 2019, one of which came aboard Intrepid Heart. Velazquez also guided the colt to a third-place finish at Belmont Park in the 2019 Peter Pan Stakes.
Joel Rosario Will Ride Sir Winston
Dominican jockey Joel Rosario is looking for his second win at the Belmont Stakes, having finished first in 2014. 2019’s Belmont will mark his second time taking the reins atop Sir Winston, having guided the colt to a second-place finish at the 2019 Peter Pan Stakes.
Rosario has captured $9.3 million in purse money in 2019, according to Equibase.
Javier Castellano Will Ride Spinoff
Hall of fame jockey Javier Castellano will take the track looking for his first Belmont Stakes win. Despite finishing atop the earnings list for four straight years (2013-2016), Castellano has only two Preakness wins on his resume, and none at the Kentucky Derby.
He will look to change those stats atop Spinoff, a horse with whom he’s never run a race.
Irad Ortiz Jr. Will Ride Tax
Irad Ortiz Jr. hails from Puerto Rico and has been a professional horse racing jockey since 2012. Last year, Ortiz Jr., whose brother Jose is also a horse jockey, was honored with the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey. He has won the Belmont just once, back in 2016 aboard Creator.
This year, Ortiz Jr. will try to bring Tax to finish line ahead of nine other colts. Tax has only been in four other races, finishing first in just one.
Jose Lezcano Will Ride Joevia
You could call Jose Lezcano a newcomer when it comes to the Belmont Stakes. Although he has ridden in several horse races, he has yet to find himself crossing the finish line in the top three in a Triple Crown race.
Lezcano will mount Joevia in today’s race. The Belmont will mark the sixth start of Joevia’s career. He’s won twice, including his last out on May 12 in Monmouth’s Long Branch Stakes.
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