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Oxbow and Orb set for Belmont Decider

There will be no Triple Crown hero this year in the States but the Belmont Stakes is set up for a thrilling clash between Kentucky Derby winner Orb and Preakness winner Oxbow.

Orb won the Kentucky Derby but could manage only fourth place at Pimlico as veteran jockey Gary Stevens led the field a merry dance on Oxbow to record a shock victory. He still had a length and three-quarters to spare over Itsmyluckyday at the line and put the best part of ten lengths between himself and the favourite. Orb had finished a similar distance in front of Oxbow when sluicing through the sloppy surface at Churchill Downs on 4th May.

The third and decisive battle between the pair is over a full mile and a half and there are plenty of challengers lining up to take them on. Impressive 13 1/4 length Peter Pan Stakes winner Freedom Child comes with a huge reputation and Derby third Revolutionary is expected to improve considerably for the step up in distance. He is trained by Todd Pletcher who has five representatives in the race.

Pletcher may have place claims with Arkansas winner Overanalyze who is probably better than his Derby run indicates whilst Unlimited Budget is the only filly in the race. Pletcher’s only previous Belmont success came with the filly Rags To Riches in 2007, the first of her sex to win the race in over a century.

Heavy rain is forecast for the weekend and that could put even great emphasis on stamina. The draw could also be a factor with the biggest field assembled for the Belmont since 1996. Orb and Oxbow have drawn close together in five and seven respectively. Unlimited Budget is drawn 13 whilst Derby runner-up Golden Soul has drawn the outside gate. Tom Albertrani is slightly concerned with a stall 2 draw for Freedom Child who is not the fastest starter.

Orb and Revolutionary have been installed 7-2 joint-favourites with Oxbow at 6-1. Freedom Child is a 7-1 chance with Golden Soul at 10-1 and Unlimited Budget at 12-1.