As the Belmont Stakes is poised to finish the third leg of horseracing’s celebrated Triple Crown Saturday, with no contender for that prestigious trophy this year, many are focusing on the rematch between the winners of the first two races. Kentucky Derby winner Orb will go head to head against Preakness Stakes winner Oxbow on what may be a muddy track, which would likely favor the former. As of this morning, Orb is the favored to win, posting 3-1 odds, according to USA Today on Saturday, June 8. The Belmont Stakes will go off at 6:36 P.M. EST from Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y..
The mile and a half Belmont Stakes, known as the “Test of the Champion”, has been run for 145 years. Today’s race marks the 40th anniversary of Secretariat’s record breaking 31-length Triple Crown win, according ESPN.
Even without a Triple Crown on the line today’s race has plenty of reasons to watch. Besides the rematch between Orb and Oxbow, trainer Todd Pletcher is sending out a record five horses to one of the largest fields in the race’s history.
Matching the number from 1996, 14 horses will run today, with 10 of them having run in the Derby. Of those 10, included are the Derby’s second place Golden Soul and third place Revolutionary. Both of them are well rested, having skipped the Preakness.
Orb is trying to accomplish what Thunder Gulch did in 1995, which was win the Belmont having won the Derby, with a loss in the Preakness in the middle. Eleven horses have done that throughout the history of the Triple Crown.
However, only six Derby winners have rebounded to win the Belmont after finishing outside of the top three at the Preakness as Orb did. Oxbow meanwhile, could become the 19th horse to lose the Derby and come back and win the Preakness and Belmont.
Looking back over the last 25 years, Derby and Preakness winners have gone head-to-head in the Belmont Stakes seven times. In all six occasions where the Preakness winner completed the Belmont, he finished in front of the Derby winner, winning the race five in of those instances.
Today’s race also offers the chance to set some milestones for females, both human and equine. Unlimited Budget will attempt to become only the fourth filly to win the Belmont, and the first to win a Triple Crown race with a female jockey, having Rosie Napravnik in the seat.
Napravnik is also attempting to join Julie Krone, who won the 1993 Belmont riding Colonial Affair, as the only females to win a Triple Crown race, according to The Washington Post.
One final interesting fact of note, if neither Orb, Oxbow, Golden Soul nor Revolutionary finish in the top three, nine different horses will have finished in the money in this year’s Triple Crown. The last time all nine “in-the-money” spots went to different horses was back in 1926.
Visit USA Today for a complete listing and breakdown of today’s field.