ELMONT, N.Y., June 5 (UPI) -- Eleven challengers will try to prevent War Emblem from becoming the 12th Triple Crown winner and the first since Affirmed in 1978.
A field of 12 was entered Wednesday for Saturday's 1 1/2-mile Belmont Stakes -- the final jewel of the Triple Crown. War Emblem already has won the first two legs of the series, the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes.
War Emblem is the third colt in five years to enter the Belmont with a chance to complete the sweep. In 1997, Silver Charm was on the lead in the stretch but was caught in the final strides by Touch Gold.
The next year, Real Quiet also led as the field turned for home but was caught by Victory Gallop. And in 1999, Charismatic also had a chance for Triple Crown glory but suffered a career-ending injury in the stretch and finished third.
Over the years, 14 other horses have won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness but not the Belmont. Their ranks include some of racing's great names -- Tim Tam, Carry Back, Spectacular Bid, Alysheba and Sunday Silence.
War Emblem's trainer, Bob Baffert, knows how tough it is to win all three races. He trained Silver Charm and Real Quiet.
"If you can win the first two legs, you've got a great horse," Baffert said earlier this week after watching War Emblem gallop at Churchill Downs. "But you've got to have luck to win the third leg.
"You've got to overcome everything, so that means you've got the superior horse. There have been some great horses that didn't do it. Spectacular Bid, Alysheba, Silver Charm and Real Quiet are all good horses that came back (later in their 3-year-old year) and beat older horses."
Several of the Belmont starters appear capable of adding War Emblem's name to the "near miss" list, although War Emblem was installed as the even-money favorite on the morning line.
Proud Citizen, who finished second in the Kentucky Derby and third in the Preakness, was posted at 5-1. Sunday Break, coming off a victory in the Peter Pan Stakes two weeks ago, was listed at 6-1 and Perfect Drift, who finished third in the Kentucky Derby, was installed at 8-1. The other eight entrants will open at double-digit odds.
Baffert said he has no problem with the No. 10 post position chosen for War Emblem in the Bemont.
"He's a fast horse and he can dictate whatever he wants to do," Baffert said. "We'd rather be on the outside than inside."
Starting directly outside War Emblem in the No. 11 stall will be Magic Weisner, who finished a fast-closing second in the Preakness. This will be Magic Weisner's first race outside Maryland.
The field for Saturday's 134th running of the Belmont Stakes, 1 1/2 mile for 3-year-olds at Belmont Park, with, jockey, trainer and morning-line odds, by post position: