Leading up to the 153rd running of the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes (G1) on Saturday, June 5, usracing.com is publishing profiles of each contender. The 1 1/2-mile race at Belmont Park is the final leg of the Triple Crown. Profiles will be updated with post positions and odds following the draw on Tuesday (June 1).
By Ed McNamara
Todd Pletcher’s last two Belmont winners took five weeks off after being also-rans in the Kentucky Derby (G1). Bourbonic fits that pattern but otherwise bears little resemblance to Palace Malice (2013) and Tapwrit (2017).
This deep closer came out of nowhere as a 72-1 shot in the Wood Memorial (G2), going last to first to get up by a head. Anyone expecting a repeat performance on Derby Day was disappointed, because Bourbonic never got going and finished 13th, beaten by 16 lengths at odds of 30-1.
The Wood hasn’t been a significant Derby prep for many years, and the 2021 edition was one of its weakest ever. None of its nine runners has done anything significant. Like Bourbonic, runner-up Dynamic One and fifth-place finisher Brooklyn Strong flopped in the Derby, coming in 18th and 15th, respectively.
Before the Derby, Pletcher said: “Bourbonic doesn’t have any early speed. We always knew this horse would handle added distance. He was able to get a perfect trip in the Wood, sit back and make one run. It was a big effort.”
After his Derby dud, it looks like a fluke. The Belmont field looks stronger than the Derby’s, so it’s nearly impossible to make a case for Bourbonic. He’s an automatic throw-out.
Post position: TBD
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Jockey: Kendrick Carmouche
Owner: Calumet Farm
Career record: 7-3-1-0
Career earnings: $465,880
Best Equibase speed figure: 100
Pedigree: Bernardini-Dancing Afleet, by Afleet Alex
Color: Dark bay
Running style: Closer
Notes: Pletcher’s best chance for a fourth Belmont victory is Florida Derby winner Known Agenda, a much better colt than his ninth-place finish in the Derby would indicate … Bourbonic and Overtook, Pletcher’s third Belmont runner, worked a half-mile in company in 48.82 seconds on May 21 at Belmont. It was the third-fastest of 32 at the distance … Pletcher is two photo finishes away from five Belmont trophies. In 2014, Commissioner lost by a head to Tonalist, and two years later Destin was nosed out by Creator … James Rowe holds the stakes record with eight wins, the first in 1883 and the last in 1913 … Dr Post ran second to Tiz the Law last year, giving Pletcher his sixth runner-up finish in the “Test of the Champion.”
Ed McNamara is an award-winning journalist who has been writing about thoroughbred racing for 35 years. He has handicapped races for ESPN.com, Newsday and The Record of New Jersey. He is the author of “Cajun Racing: From the Bush Tracks to the Triple Crown” and co-author of “The Most Glorious Crown,” a chronicle of the first 12 Triple Crown champions.