Top pick: #6 (Forte) (5-2) - The bruised foot that kept Forte out of the Derby is no longer an issue. He was the Kentucky Derby favorite but was scratched just hours before the race. The horse is rested and recovered, maintaining his fitness level following a mandated 14-day veterinary precaution list that forced him out of both the Derby and Preakness. This 3-year-old colt has won five straight races, including the last four at two different tracks at 1 1/8 and 1/16-miles. Forte even has experience on this track, winning a year ago at Belmont at 5 furlongs. His stalking running style combined with jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. aboard are two significant advantages at this distance.
2nd pick: #8 (Angel of Empire) (7-2) - This 3-year-old colt keeps getting more experience with speed numbers that have risen sharply this year. Angel of Empire won the Risen Star Stakes and the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby by 4+ lengths in April before finishing third in the Kentucky Derby behind Mage and Two Phil's. This colt has been geared toward long-distance races so he should be fine with the Belmont's mile-and-a-half. In his last five races, Angel of Empire has three wins, two second place finishes, and one third.
3rd pick: #3 (Arcangelo) (8-1) - Arcangelo has a long-distance pedigree, the son of Breeders' Cup winner Arrogate along with a family tree that includes Rags to Riches, the winner of the 2007 Belmont Stakes. Arcangelo's 97 Beyer Speed Figure is very good, though not blazing. National Treasure earned a 98 Beyer Speed for his Preakness victory. Arcangelo's style will be to settle in behind the leaders then look for a late burst. Arcangelo won the Peter Pan Stakes four weeks ago by shifting to the outside, launching a four-wide bid, then winning narrowly with a late burst under jockey Javier Castellano. Castellano, who won the Kentucky Derby with Mage, will be atop again.
4th pick: #4 (National Treasure) (5-1) - Mage may have won the Kentucky Derby, but National Treasure bested Mage the last time out winning the Preakness. The last two races were the longest for this horse, winning the Preakness while finishing fourth in the the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby. He has yet to top his best speed figures, set late last year, in three races in 2023.