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2020 Belmont Stakes: Everything You Need To Know

Sports is slowly coming back and who would have thought that one of the returning main events would be…horse racing?!

American Pharaoh by Mike Lizzi is licensed under CC BY SA-2.0

2020 Belmont Stakes: Everything You Need To Know


Estimated Reading Time: 8 Minutes

Sports is slowly coming back and who would have thought that one of the returning main events would be…horse racing?!

That’s right, and hey I am totally cool with that. If you have read my Turf articles in the past, I cover a lot of football with a side of baseball and basketball. But I also LOVE watching the horses run, and I was born and raised in Upstate New York; growing up not too far from Saratoga which is home of the oldest horse racing track in America. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve been to that track, but too many!

Ok, so obviously this has been a pretty crazy year, and so before I get to talking about the Belmont Stakes field and giving you my picks, I want to talk about what will be different about the race this year. There is a lot to cover, and because the coronavirus has had an effect on all our lives and all our sports, betting or watching the Belmont Stakes and following the racing season going forward this year will be a little different than normal – to say the least.

There are three races or “legs” to the Triple Crown, and a horse must win all three legs to be the Triple Crown winner; which is the greatest accomplishment in thoroughbred racing. There is the Kentucky Derby (first leg), Preakness Stakes (second leg), and the Belmont Stakes (third leg). However, this year the last leg of the Triple Crown will be the first one on Saturday June 20, 2020. Then the Kentucky Derby will be September 5th, which will be a huge day (or weekend rather) for racing because we’ll have the Derby at Churchill Downs and the Woodward Stakes at Saratoga that Saturday. Quite the Labor Day weekend for betting. Then on October 3rd, the Preakness Stakes will be run at Pimlico in Baltimore.

In addition to the changes in leg order, the Belmont Stakes has also shortened in distance. It is normally a 12-furlough race (1 1/2 miles), which is the longest of the three races. But this year the Belmont will be nine furloughs which cuts down to 1 1/8 miles.

There will also be no spectators at the Belmont Stakes, but you can still bet the race online or with various betting apps for horses that exist today. If you simply just want to watch and enjoy the race, you can catch it televised on NBC at an estimated post time (start time of the race) at 5:42PM ET.

I’m not going to get into all the different types of ways you can bet. But you can learn all about that and some of the more common bet types in one of my older articles here.

Ok, now it is time to talk the horses and get to my picks! We will go by post position (starting from the inside of the track to the outside). Also please note that odds are constantly changing on these horses right up until post time. Thus the odds in this article are not necessarily final.

1. Tap It To Win (6-1)

Jockey: John Velazquez

Trainer: Mark Casse

You will hear a lot of people say that they don’t prefer the #1 post position in a race, because they believe inside along the rail can be a disadvantage for a horse, and sometimes it is. But believe it or not, the Post 1 spot has actually produced the most Belmont Stakes winners in this stakes’ history (23). So you simply never know. Two years ago, Justify – the most recent Triple Crown winner – won this race at this post.

Mark Casse knows how to prepare horses for big races. He is one of the better trainers in the business who won this race last year with Sir Winston and the Preakness with War of Will. If he wins this race, this will be his third Triple Crown race win in a row if Tap It To Win pulls it off; which is possible – he’s a good runner.

Tap It To Win had won recently at Belmont on June 4 and nearly broke a track record at a 1 1/16 distance busting out a 97 Beyer speed figure. He’s won his past two allowance races and at good clips too. Tap It To Win may not be the best horse in this race but he has run very well recently so that could be key.

2. Sole Volante (9-2)

Jockey: Luca Panici

Trainer: Patrick Biancone

Sole Volante is definitely a closer-type horse who recently won at Gulfstream Park and finished second in the Tampa Bay Derby. I don’t think Sole Volante wins this race, but it’s possible he could hit the board (meaning he finishes in the top-3). As a matter of fact, fun fact on Sole Volante: In his five career races, he’s hit the board every time.

I have a funny feeling that he actually will miss the board this time. Because that’s how horse racing can go sometimes…the unexpected can happen. But if you are a big bettor and you want to go bold, perhaps Sole Volante could be a good horse to throw into a Superfecta bet; because he still could finish fourth in this race. Just make sure you box your Superfecta bet if you do it. ALWAYS box your exotic bets. I can’t stress that enough. If you don’t know what that is, again, see my previous article here. I know a guy who lost out on thousands of dollars because he didn’t box his Superfecta bet. Don’t be that guy…

3. Max Player (15-1)

Jockey: Joel Rosario

Trainer: Linda Rice

Joel Rosario won this race last year with Sir Winston. Rosario has a good history at Belmont, and Linda Rice is a good trainer. However, while Max Player shows some upside, I think he is outmatched here. But if you told me you were going to put a $20 show bet on Max Player, I wouldn’t stop you. You have to at least take the Rosario-Rice pairing seriously. And Rosario likes this track.

4. Modernist (15-1)

Jockey: Junior Alvarado

Trainer: Bill Mott

Bill Mott is one win away from 5,000 career wins as a trainer. Will he get it here? It would be awesome, but I don’t think so. Modernist finished third in the Louisiana Derby. If he gets stuck on the inside, that could be trouble.

5. Farmington Road (15-1)

Jockey: Javier Castellano

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

This is the longshot I like. Farmington Road gets my favorite jockey and Pletcher for a trainer, who we all know is one of the best in the business. Farmington Road has had some close finishes recently against quality competition. He finished second in the Oaklawn Stakes and fourth in the Grade 2 Arkansas Derby. He won’t win this race, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he hit the board.

6. Fore Left (30-1)

Jockey: Jose Ortiz

Trainer: Doug O’Neill

Fore Left was a late addition to this Belmont field. This horse loves to start out of the gate quick. He could act initially as the pace setter but I don’t see him lasting in this one. Fore Left has also been very inconsistent. This horse will either finish dead last or surprise us with a fourth or third place finish. But don’t count on him to hit the board this time.

7. Jungle Runner (50-1)

Jockey: Reylu Gutierrez

Trainer: Steve Asmussen

We have a super longshot here in Jungle Runner, who has yet to hit the board this year. Hard Pass. And I wouldn’t even bother getting cute and putting him in a Show bet or Superfecta bet. If Jungle Runner does land in the top-3 or 4, well then good for you. I tip my hat.

8. Tiz The Law (6-5)

Jockey: Manny Franco

Trainer: Barclay Tagg

Tiz The Law is the clear strong favorite in this race. I’ll put it to you this way: There is no way this horse misses the board. Unless something catastrophic happens, I think Tiz The Law finishes at least in the top-2 or 3.

If you are going to bet Tiz The Law, you may want to consider including him in an exotic bet with one or two other horses you like. Because if you just bet on him to Win, Place, or Show, you’ll barely break even. It’s not even worth it.

Tiz The Law has the best Beyer Speed figures and is the only Grade I winner among this field. He’s won here at Belmont before, and he blew everyone out at the Florida Derby three months ago. If you are going to bet on Tiz The Law, then I suggest you include him in an exotic such as an exacta or a trifecta. I don’t like to be Captain Obvious, but this horse will very likely win this race.

9. Dr. Post (5-1)

Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

I really like Dr. Post, but one thing that concerns me about him is that he doesn’t have any graded-stakes attempts on his resume; which is interesting considering he is a 5-1 favorite.

However, Dr. Post has been lightly raced (only 3 career races) and has raced well recently. He may not win this time, but has a chance to hit the board. I think Dr. Post is a horse to keep a close eye on later in the season perhaps at the Kentucky Derby or Saratoga season.

10. Pneumatic (8-1)

Jockey: Ricardo Santana Jr.

Trainer: Steve Asmussen

Like Dr. Post, Pneumatic has been lightly raced with only three career races. However, his finishes are 1st, 1st, and 3rd in that order; recently finishing third at the Matt Winn Stakes at Churchill Downs. Pneumatic has a very good chance to hit the board and I love Santana Jr. as a jockey. A bit underrated and he might be my second-favorite jockey behind Javier Castellano. But it’s tough, there are a lot to like!

My Picks

So I am going to give you four bets that are cumulatively under $50. And I think these are bets that can provide at least decent returns.

$20 Show Bet: Farmington Road (cost = $20)

$2 Exacta Box Bet: Tiz The Law / Tap It To Win (cost = $4)

$2 Trifecta Box Bet: Tiz The Law / Tap It To Win / Farmington Road (cost = $12)

$.50 Superfecta Box Bet: Tiz The Law / Tap It To Win / Farmington Road / Dr. Post (cost = $12)

Total Cost to Bet: $48

Horse that is going to ruin me: Pneumatic

Top 4 Finishers:

  1. Tiz The Law
  2. Tap It To Win
  3. Farmington Road
  4. Dr. Post

ENJOY THE RACE!

Matt lives in Newnan, Georgia but was born and raised in Upstate New York. He is a fan of the New York Yankees, New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Boston Celtics. At the collegiate level, he is a Notre Dame and Syracuse fan (yeah he can root for both, and what?!) He must, however, find a soccer team to root for. So please...help him out there. All suggestions are welcome. You can catch Matt on the Turf mostly covering NFL, NBA, MLB, College Football and Basketball, and Horse Racing (that is not a typo, he practically grew up on a racetrack). It's nothing personal...it's strictly sports.

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