(CBSNewYork)- The Belmont Stakes is just days away as the Triple Crown finally kicks off with a bit of a different schedule this year. Entering Saturday, race fans will see a different version of “The Test of the Champion” than they’re used to, as the race has been shortened by 3/8 of a mile from a mile and a half to a mile and an eighth. That change in length means we’ll also likely see a running style that usually isn’t successful at Belmont be more of a player.
“Every year, when we would go to the Belmont, we would hear stories about how you can’t be a late running horse and win the Belmont Stakes. Very few win with that running style,” said senior writer for SportsLine Gene Menez in an interview with CBS Local’s Katie Johnston. “Now, at the mile and an eighth distance, the race will be run at a much faster early pace and that could set up the race for a horse that comes from behind. I think you’re going to see maybe a slightly different result on Saturday than you would if it was run at a mile and a half.”READ MORE: Former Aides Karen Hinton, Lindsey Boylan Accuse Gov. Andrew Cuomo Of Bullying, Sexual Harassment
With that said, the clear favorite for the race is not that type of horse. Tiz the Law, the 6-5 morning line favorite, is a horse more than capable of both keeping close to the pace and hanging back and waiting to strike. He’s won four of the five races that he’s started in his young career, but winning the Belmont would be a little extra special for his team.
“Tiz the Law is trained and owned by the same connections behind 2003 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Funny Cide. The connections have been targeting the Belmont Stakes for this horse. This horse is a New York bred colt and they would love nothing more than to win the Belmont Stakes on Saturday,” said Menez. “He has the perfect running style, just behind the pace. He’s very versatile. He can run closer to the pace or back off a little bit if he needs to. And he’s drawn a great post in the number eight hole. He’s going to be a very formidable favorite on Saturday.”READ MORE: 6-Year-Old Boy Struck And Killed While Attempting To Board School Bus With Brother In Brooklyn
While Tiz the Law is getting all of the hype entering Saturday night, Menez does see a horse flying more under the radar that could make some noise. Max Player, going off at 15-1 odds out of the third position, caught Menez’s eye due to the way that he has trained in preparation for this race. While he doesn’t necessarily believe that Max Player will take the victory, he could end up hitting the board.
“He won the Withers Stakes earlier this year and I really wasn’t impressed by that race. He was kind of slow, didn’t finish particularly well, didn’t finish with a fast time. But since then, he’s trained really well and earlier this month he turned in a bullet workout in preparation for the Belmont Stakes,” said Menez. “Lastly, in his races, he’s yet to have a race with a fast pace. He’s going to get that fast pace to run at on Saturday and I think that’s going to set up his late kick. I won’t be surprised if he does hit the board.”MORE NEWS: GameStop Shares Surge Nearly 104% In One Day
The Belmont Stakes is set for a post time of approximately 5:42 pm EST on Saturday afternoon.