Meet the 2016 Belmont Stakes Horses

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On Saturday, June 11, Thoroughbred racing fans throughout the world will turn their attention to Belmont Park racetrack in New York, where the 148th running of the Belmont Stakes will be held. At 1 ½ miles in distance, the “Test of Champions” is the longest leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown, exceeding the Kentucky Derby by a quarter of a mile.

An exciting group of 13 three-year-old Thoroughbreds has been entered in this year’s Belmont, led by the talented Exaggerator. After finishing a strong second to Nyquist in the Kentucky Derby, Exaggerator turned the tables on his longtime rival in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) three weeks ago, rallying from far behind to win in decisive fashion over a sloppy, rain-soaked track. As a son of two-time U.S. Horse of the Year and Hall of Fame member Curlin, who finished second in the 2007 Belmont Stakes, Exaggerator has the pedigree to win the Belmont and is expected by many experts to win easily.

With Nyquist on the sidelines due to a minor illness, Exaggerator’s biggest challenges in the Belmont could come from familiar faces like Destin, sixth in the Kentucky Derby; Cherry Wine, second in the Preakness, and the popular Japanese horse Lani, who is gaining a huge fanbase thanks to his pre-race antics and unusual training style—he gallops longer distances and spends more time on the racetrack than most U.S.-based racehorses. In fact, he’s so popular in Japan that Lani toys have been created.

But the Belmont Stakes is only one highlight of the three-day “Belmont Stakes Racing Festival” at Belmont Park, which includes nine other major races this Saturday. Among the highlights are the Metropolitan Handicap, a one-mile race that is among the most prestigious in the country. Frosted, who finished second to Triple Crown winner American Pharoah in the 2015 Belmont Stakes, is among the entries, along with the very talented but inconsistent Noble Bird.

Another major race on the schedule is the Manhattan Stakes, which will be run over the grass course at Belmont Park. Flintshire, a remarkably talented a consistent French horse now trained in the United States, is expected to win but will face a deep and talented group of horses that also includes Divisidero, who won the Turf Classic Stakes on Kentucky Derby day, and the seemingly ageless veteran Big Blue Kitten, who has been winning major races since 2012.

The Belmont Stakes, Metropolitan Handicap, and Manhattan Stakes will be broadcast live on NBC Sports starting at 5:00 p.m. EDT on June 11th. In addition, NBC Sports Network will broadcast additional races at Belmont starting at 3:00 p.m. on June 11th. Be sure to tune in and cheer for your favorite horses!

J. Keeler Johnson is a writer, blogger, videographer, and racing enthusiast who considers Zenyatta to be his all-time favorite racehorse. He is the founder of the horse racing website TheTurfBoard.com and writes for the Bloodhorse.com blog Unlocking Winners.

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