Welcome to 2016 Belmont Stakes & Belmont Betting

The Belmont Stakes is the final race of the three that comprise the Triple Crown. It takes place every June at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York. For the second year in a row history could be made at the 2015 Belmont Stakes. American Pharoah has already won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness and is one win away from becoming only the 12th Triple Crown winner in history. There hasn’t been a Triple Crown winner in the sport of horse racing since Affirmed in 1978. California Chrome gave it a good run last year, winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness before finishing fourth behind Tonalist in the Belmont.

The Belmont is a Grade 1 stakes race contested over a 1 ½ mile dirt track for three-year-olds. During the Triple Crown campaign, a horse must not only deal with the longest distance of their career but the grueling schedule. The Belmont takes place three weeks after the Preakness and five weeks after the Kentucky Derby. Since most high-level thoroughbreds usually race every three or four weeks, the scheduling of the Triple Crown races is as big of a challenge as the competitions themselves. The scheduling is so demanding that many horsemen have called for the racing schedule to be changed to provide horses with more time between races.

First held in 1866, the Belmont is the oldest of the Triple Crown races by nearly a decade. The race is the namesake of 19th-century financier August Belmont, Sr. and was originally run at the Jerome Park Racetrack in the Bronx. The Jerome Park track got its name from a Wall Street colleague of Belmont’s, Leonard Jerome.   August Belmont died in 1890 and Jerome in 1891 and following their passing the event was moved to the nearby Morris Park Race Course until the opening of Belmont Park. The race has been held annually since then with the exception of 1911 and 1912. Between 1963 and 1967 the race was held at nearby Aqueduct Racetrack due to a major renovation project at Belmont Park.

While the Kentucky Derby has the nickname ‘the run for the roses’, the Belmont winner traditionally receives a blanket of carnations. Despite the floral tradition of the Belmont the moniker “the run for the carnations” hasn’t exactly become part of the American lexicon. The race’s catch phrase may not have gained traction with the American public, but the Belmont does boast what many consider the greatest performance in the history of thoroughbred racing. In 1973, Secretariat clinched the Triple Crown in the Belmont with a downright dominant performance—“Big Red” set a course record of 2:24 in winning the race by an astounding 31 lengths. One of the most enduring images of Secretariat’s victory is the shot of jockey Ron Turcotte easing up his mount near the finish line as he looks back over his shoulder in amazement that the rest of the field is nearly out of sight.

The 2014 Belmont winner was Tonalist, trained by Christophe Clement with jockey Joel Rosario aboard. Tonalist was a 15/1 betting choice with California Chrome installed as a 3/5 post time favorite. Tonalist paid $20.40 to win, $9.60 to place and $7.00 to show. Commissioner finished second returning $23.20 and $13.20 while Medal Count took third paying $13.20.

The 2016 Belmont Stakes will take place on Saturday, June 11th. For those looking to attend the race live, gates open at 8:30 AM. In addition to the highly sought after reserved seating, Belmont Park admits thousands of fans via general admission on a first come, first served basis. Reserved seats should be purchased well in advance–in 2014, they sold out long before race day.

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Haskell Invitational Features Top Three Kentucky Derby Finishers

Posted Under: News by Jim Murphy on 27th July 2016

Heading into the post position draw for the Haskell Invitational it seemed much to quiet. Word was that only six challengers had an interest in facing Kentucky Derby champion Nyquist in his ‘comeback race’. Of these, Kentucky Derby third place finisher Gun Runner was the most capable challenger. The real draw of the race was to see how effective Nyquist would be in his return to the track. Making the quiet all the more unusual–there is a $1 million purse and a free pass into the Breeders’ Cup Classic awaiting the winner.

That all changed on Wednesday with the unexpected entry of Exaggerator into the Haskell Field. Exaggerator won the Preakness Stakes and finished second in the Kentucky Derby. He’s considered the top contender to Nyquist for the Eclipse Award for best three year old. A win here could be huge in that regard since both horses have impressive credentials. Nyquist has won the Grade 2 San Felipe, the Grade 1 Florida Derby and, of course, the Kentucky Derby. Exaggerator has a win in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby, a 2nd place in the Kentucky Derby and a win in the Grade 1 Preakness.

Here’s where things get strange–trainer Keith Desormeaux has said that he isn’t happy with how Exaggerator has been training. The plan had reportedly been for Exaggerator to take on a less formidable field in the Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga. So far no explanation for the entry of Exaggerator into the field but here’s one scenario–with a strong potential for rainy weather and sloppy tracks this week Desormeaux figured that he’d ‘roll the dice’ given his horse’s (in)famous love of running in the mud. There’s currently a flash flood watch out for the Monmouth Beach area with a 60% chance of thunderstorms on race day.

The other horses in the field are Gun Runner, No Distortion, Brody’s Cause, Sunny Ridge, Awesome Slew and American Freedom. The $1 million Grade 1 Haskell Invitational will be run on the dirt track with a distance of 1 1/8 mile. Nyquist is the morning line favorite at 6-5 with Gun Runner and Exaggerator co-second choice at 3-1. American Freedom is 6-1, Brody’s Cause is 12-1, Sunny Ridge is 20-1 and Awesome Slew is 30-1.

Only Daughter Of Rachel Alexandra Is Retired From Racing

Posted Under: News by Jim Murphy on 26th July 2016

Superstar mare Rachel Alexandra will be inducted into the racing Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, NY next month but her ‘on track legacy’ hasn’t fared especially well. Her first foal is four year old Jess’s Dream who has been hampered by a series of minor injuries throughout his career. The other is three year old filly Rachel’s Valentina who started her racing career with great promise but has disappointed this year. She had definitely underachieved as a three year old but that alone doesn’t explain the somewhat surprising announcement by owner Stonestreet Farm that Rachel’s Valentina had been retired from racing.

Stonestreet is owned by Barbara Banke who announced the retirement with this statement on the farm’s website: “We want to announce that Rachel’s Valentina will now retire from racing sound and injury-free. We look forward to sharing her babies with you, carrying on the legacy of ‘Rachel the Great.’ ” No other context for the move was provided though it is obvious from that statement that a career as a broodmare is next for Rachel’s Valentina.

Rachel’s Valentina’s career began positively enough–after her debut win she was victorious in the Grade 1 Spinaway Stakes before finishing second in 2015 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. Since she was beaten by Songbird–now known as undoubtedly the best three year old filly in the sport–that’s not exactly a huge rap against Rachel’s Valentina.

Her three year old campaign was a profound disappointment. She opened the year by finishing second to Weep No More in the Grade 1 Ashland Stakes at Keeneland. She was favored in her next two races but finished well off the pace–fifth in the Kentucky Oaks and sixth in the Grade 1 Mother Goose. There was talk that trainer Todd Pletcher didn’t know exactly what the problem was and needed to to ‘back to the drawing board’ but no one expected the immediate retirement.

The obvious explanation is a simple one–Rachel’s Valentina is worth more as a broodmare than she is as an active competitor. Stonestreet Farm’s Banke has said that Rachel Alexandra will not be bred again after she suffered severe complications during her pregnancy and after delivery. This required surgery and a lengthy clinic stay.