1. Tapit Shoes (20-1)
This son of uber-sire Tapit has nothing more than a maiden win on his resume. Better have his running shoes on, since it will take a major forward move on the final numbers to pull this off. 20-1 morning line is pretty much in line with his chances.
2. Tapit Trice (3-1)
Another son of Tapit, he never got to show his best stuff when far back in the Kentucky Derby. He was riding a four-race winning streak prior to his Derby debacle and was logging improving late-pace figures in the process, and his recent works at Belmont are sharp, too. He's a contender on paper for sure, but his 3-1 ML tells me he'll be a decided underlay at post time. Final odds always take precedence over form. Not with my money.
3. Arcangelo (8-1)
Although this handicapper spent time in south Florida this past winter, I never got to see his three races at Gulfstream. That became moot after his Peter Pan victory at Belmont Park on May 13, which was ultra-impressive. This lightly-raced and rapidly-improving 3-year-old tallied a late-pace figure that literally was off the charts. If this corner gets anywhere near his 8-1 ML, we're taking the money clip off. Top selection.
4. National Treasure (5-1)
Mea culpa: His Preakness victory came as a total shock to this handicapper. Obviously, his speed gives him a tactical chance, but I find it hard to imagine him hanging around for 1 1/2 miles. For the record, we'll be taking a stand against him again in the win pools, but he should be used underneath in exotics. Fourth selection.
5. Il Miracolo (30-1)
It would take a miracle for him to win. This son of Gun Runner simply has never run a final figure that places him in the same area code as this field. 30-1 ML with a 300-1 actual chance.
6. Forte (5-2)
His body of work (six wins from seven starts) is impressive, and he was rightly made the ML favorite for the Derby before a hoof injury forced him to the sidelines. Must be added to the contender list based on what we see on paper, but the potential short price and 70-day layoff are reason to be skeptical. You make the call.
7. Hit Show (10-1)
Moved into a very hot pace at the quarter-pole in the Derby and understandably came up flat at crunch time. He logged three tightly-grouped workouts in the interim and owns the perfect mid-pack running style for the distance. Much to like. Second selection.
8. Angel of Empire (7-2)
His third in the Derby appears to be totally dressed up as he closed late after scorching early fractions. And contrary to public opinion, his come-from-the-clouds running style will offer him no advantage at the distance. 7-2 ML is way too short to take on this runner. Backend of the exotics.
9. Red Route One (15-1)
This corner's top selection in the Preakness was an embarrassingly bad fourth after pretty much getting a perfect trip. It's likely he could have reacted negatively to his hard-fought victory two starts back, so the bounce-back potential exists. Not totally ready to give up on him. Third selection.
PICKS: (3) Arcangelo, (7) Hit Show, (9) Red Route One, (4) National Treasure