Belmont Stakes 2013: Top Contenders for Final Leg of Triple Crown

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMay 23, 2013

BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 18:  Orb #1, ridden by Joel Rosario, leads Glodencents #2, ridden by Kevin Krigger, and Departing #4, ridden by Brain Hernandez Jr., down the frontstretch at the start of the 138th running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on May 18, 2013 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The biggest loser in the Preakness Stakes wasn't Orb. In fact, it wasn't any of the horses that finished behind Oxbow at Pimlico. It was horse racing, which missed out on yet another chance to steal the spotlight with a possible Triple Crown winner.

Instead of heading into the Belmont Stakes with a chance to break the 34-year drought, the top storyline is a potential rematch between Orb and Oxbow. While an interesting plot, it doesn't come anywhere close to a Triple Crown pursuit.

That said, the Belmont is still a marquee race and should attract an elite field of contenders. Horse Racing Nation provides a list of every horse being considered. So let's take a closer look at top horses capable of winning the final jewel of horse racing's spring trifecta.


1. Orb

Orb was tremendous in the Kentucky Derby. His stretch run, which saw him fly past the huge field with amazing ease, will be shown for many years to come. He wasn't able to back up that performance in the Preakness, however, finishing fourth.

A strong workout has trainer Shug McGaughey thinking about the Belmont, reports David Grening of the Daily Racing Form. They are going to keep an open mind moving forward in his training and then make a final decision.

"If everything's right, he's doing right, puts his weight back on, his energy level's good, we would like to run in the Belmont," said McGaughey, who trains Orb for co-owners/breeders Ogden Mills Phipps and Stuart Janney III. "If we hit any stumbling block along the way there are plenty of other good opportunities."

Assuming Orb does reach the Preakness goal, the biggest unknown is what version of the colt will show up. When he's at his best, there won't be a horse in the field that can beat him. So he should still hold favorite status for now.


2. Oxbow

The biggest difference for Oxbow from the Kentucky Derby to the Preakness Stakes was the early pace. Since it was a more reasonable start, veteran jockey Gary Stevens was able to put him in prime position without exerting too much energy. It paid off.

Jockeys are not miracle workers. If a horse doesn't have the talent to win, there's only so much they can do. But Stevens showed how a jockey can make a good horse great. By having the perfect plan of attack, he ended Orb's Triple Crown quest.

Oxbow's chances will be heavily dependent on the field size. He's at his best when he can get near the lead, but if the early fractions are too fast (like the derby) he's in trouble. The Preakness showed he can overcome a Grade 1 field, though.


3. Revolutionary

Revolutionary had a strong third-place showing in the Kentucky Derby. After skipping the Preakness Stakes, he's one of at least three Todd Pletcher horses expected at Belmont Park, according to Mark Singelais of the Albany Times Union. The extra rest will help.

Three straight victories, including the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby, heading into the derby made Revolutionary one of the top contenders. Although he ultimately fell short, his run was good enough to believe he can bounce back to win the Belmont.

If Orb and Oxbow both enter the race, they will dominate the headlines. But Revolutionary is one of the few horses capable of keeping pace with both. With the couple extra weeks of rest, he should also be prepared to handle the added distance. Definitely a strong contender.