TIME FOR TACITUS
As the contending horses paraded themselves in front of the capacity gallery at Churchill Downs this year for the Kentucky Derby, one horse stood out as if he had a subtle aura of energy around him, the big Gray, Tacitus. Named after a Roman emperor, this horse carried himself like the nobility he was named for. Horse racing fans with an affinity for the grays took notice.
The track was wet and muddy at Louisville for the Derby and the horses bunched up quickly creating some awkward traffic which obviously affected Tacitus and held him back for awhile. However, the Big Gray finally found an opening and, like the closer he is known to be, put on a burst of speed and ended up placing fourth at the unofficial finish, only to be promoted to third place after the controversial disqualification of Maximum Security, a move that caused temporary chaos in the wagering world.
So now, just a few weeks later, Tacitus is listed right up there with Preakness winner War of Will as favorites to win the 2019 Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York. As the last leg of the annual Triple Crown series, which is like the Super Bowl of house racing, the ponies will run a full mile and a half at the Belmont, perhaps affording Tacitus the extra length he needs to overcome the competition and win at least one leg of the Triple Crown.
Interestingly enough, neither eventual Kentucky Derby winner Country House nor Maximum Security, who came in first at Churchill Downs but was disqualified for a blocking foul, will be participating in the 151st running of the Belmont Stakes for three year old thoroughbreds as both horses have shown signs of minor infections.
This year bettors will have a short field to choose from as only 12 thoroughbreds have qualified to run the 12 furlong, 2,400 meter track on June 8th. Preakness first and second winners War of Will and Everfast are listed as favorites along with Tacitus, who is the betting favorite at 8 to 5 and who also has the highest ‘Top Equibase Speed Figure’ of any horse in the race at 107.
Spinoff follows close behind at 9 to 1 with Plus Que Parfait and Global Campaign listed at 10 to 1. Master Fencer and Intrepid Heart come next at 11 and 12 to one respectively with Tax, Sir Winston and Bourbon War all listed at 16 to 1. The longest shot of the race will be Joevia at 33 to 1 ridden by veteran jockey Jose Lezcano.
Tacitus, whose trainer is Bill Mott, will be ridden this year by jockey Jose Ortiz who won the Belmont Stakes two years ago on a very similar mount named Tapwrit. Both Tapwrit and Tacitus ran well in the Kentucky Derby, won the Tampa Bay Derby, skipped the Preakness, and were both sired by the legendary Tapit who has already produced 3 Belmont Stakes winners.
Bettors are coming down heavily that Jose Ortiz can pull it off again in 2019.