We may not get a rematch of the unprecedented Kentucky Derby finish from May 4, but the 2019 Belmont Stakes is shaping up to be an All-Star race featuring many of the top contenders from the Derby and the Preakness Stakes. Nothing is official for the final leg of the Triple Crown on June 8, just two days after War of Will edged the field to win the 2019 Preakness Stakes.
War of Will trainer Mark Casse said Saturday his horse "probably" will race in the Belmont in three weeks. War of Will may have been going for a Triple Crown had he not been cut off by Maximum Security in the Derby, causing the first-ever disqualification of a Kentucky Derby winner.
According to early projections, War of Will's inclusion would mean the top-three Preakness Stakes finishers -- War of Will, Everfast and Owendale -- are all expected to race in the Belmont Stakes. So is Bourbon War, one of the pre-race favorites who finished a disappointing eighth.
Country House, the historic 65-1 winner of the Kentucky Derby following the DQ, is considered a possible entrant in the Belmont. The Maximum Security camp is mum for now, but it's believed his team is pointing to the Belmont on June 8 followed by the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth on July 20 as his next two stops.
Kentucky Derby horses also on a path for the Belmont include Tacitus and Game Winner, which finished third and fifth, respectively, at Churchill Downs, as well as Master Fencer, Plus Que Parfait and Tax. The top-three finishers of the Peter Pan Stakes from May 11 -- Global Campaign, Sir Winston and Intrepid Heart -- are also in the mix.
Omaha Beach, who was the morning line favorite for the Kentucky Derby before a breathing condition forced a surprising scratch, will not be ready for the Belmont but it's still hoped he'll be back on a track in summer.
DQ'd Derby horse owner offers $20M challenge
While we may not see a rematch of the Kentucky Derby, Maximum Security's owner is offering a challenge to those horses were affected by the Derby DQ. Gary West is offering $20 million -- A $5 million side bet each to War of Will, Country House, Long Range Toddy and Bodexpress -- if any of those horses can beat Maximum Security in any race in 2019.
"I firmly believe I have the best 3-year-old in the country and I'm willing to put my money where my mouth is," West said.