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Tacitus is the pick to win Belmont Stakes

Exercise rider Joe Ramos works out Tacitus at

Exercise rider Joe Ramos works out Tacitus at Belmont Park on Thursday. Photo Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

His father, Tapit, sired three of the last five Belmont Stakes winners, and Tacitus is giving strong signals going into Saturday’s marathon. He’s had two strong workouts at Belmont Park, chugging along evenly in 12-second furlongs, which should set him up well. Unfortunately, he’s the 9-5 morning-line favorite and might dip to 8-5 or 7-5 by post time.

Oh well. I don’t like picking chalk in big races, but I’ve liked him for two months (Tacitus was my Derby pick), and I’d cringe if I jumped off because of his odds and then watched him win. As former Newsday handicapper John Pricci says, “Better a short price than a long face.”

I think the tactically shrewd Jose Ortiz will keep Tacitus in fourth or fifth in the field of 10, not too close to the pace if it’s fast and not too far back if it’s slow. If Tacitus doesn’t have it, I have no strong feelings about anybody else. I’m throwing out Preakness winner War of Will because I think he’ll find 1½ miles too taxing in his third race in five weeks. Master Fencer’s impressive but nonthreatening Derby rally will make him an underlay. I’m not dazzled by anybody else.

I think the lightly raced Intrepid Heart could improve with blinkers on for three-time Belmont winner Todd Pletcher, so I’ll put him second. His pedigree (Tapit out of a Touch Gold mare) says distance. Preakness runner-up Everfast rallies again and finishes third, with Bourbon War completing the superfecta.        

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