While it’s impossible to give any hard and fast rules for Belmont Stakes betting, http://www.belmontstakes.org – or any other horse race for that matter – there are several concepts unique to the race that have to be taken into account when betting the third leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown. Obviously these alone won’t get the job done, and particularly since the field won’t be set until the week before the race. That notwithstanding, once the field is announced it’s important to evaluate all of the entries not only as you would any other race but with the following concepts in mind:
DISTANCE: The Belmont Stakes is run over a distance of a mile and a half and few, if any, three-year-olds will have had prior experience in such a long race. In light of this fact, a handicapper has to make some educated guesses about which horses will be able to handle the distance.
In some cases, you’ll be able to get an idea of a horse’s ability to handle increased distances by looking at the first two Triple Crown races—the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. The Derby is run at a mile and a quarter, while the Preakness is a mile and 3/16ths. Depending on how a horse has been prepared for his three year old campaign, these distances may be longer than anything he’s run in the past. That being said, the extra quarter mile is a very significant jump and it’s not safe to assume that just because a horse handled a mile and a quarter that he’ll have the same ability at the longer distance.
The caveat to the longer distance in the Belmont Stakes is that the race is run at a fairly slow pace. Even ‘speed horses’ are hesitant to set a brisk pace early because it is all but impossible to maintain it throughout. For this reason the Belmont is a much more tactical race which means that the handicapper needs to pay close attention to the jockey as well as the horse. Don’t be surprised if the 2015 Preakness is won by an elite level jockey known for his smart in race decision making.
SCHEDULE: One of the most significant reasons that winning the Triple Crown is such a rare event is the grueling schedule of the three races. While the ideal layoff between races varies from horse to horse, most high-level equine competitors race fewer than ten times per year. In most cases, thoroughbreds seldom race without a break of three weeks to a month. For a Triple Crown aspirant, however, it’s necessary to win three very competitive races in a five-week span. There is a two-week gap between the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, with three weeks between the Preakness and the Belmont.
In recent years, there has been a trend away from horses running in all three legs unless they’re in contention for the Triple Crown. The most common scenario is for a horse to run in the Kentucky Derby, skip the Preakness, and run in the Belmont though other combinations also occur. For this reason, it’s worth giving special consideration to ‘rested’ horses. In addition, it’s helpful to take a look at a horse’s past performances and see what his typical turnaround time between races is and how he’s fared when undertaking a heavy schedule.
WEATHER/TRACK CONDITION: Weather can be crucial to the outcome of a race. As a species, horses are very sensitive to the conditions and surfaces on which they race. On balance, most owners and trainers try to avoid racing a promising young horse in inclement weather or on a sloppy track. If the weather at a racetrack becomes particularly bad you’ll see a number of ‘late scratches’ for this reason. A Triple Crown race like the Belmont is a different matter and unless a horse’s connections have a reason to fear for his safety due to the elements or track conditions they usually make the start.
If there is a chance for bad weather and/or an off track, it’s essential to consider that when handicapping the race. One good measure of a horse’s ability in this type of race can be found with a quick look at his past performances. If a young horse has *any* experience on a muddy or sloppy track that’s a good indication that his connections have confidence in his abilities in these circumstances. Most promising three-year olds are brought along cautiously and had there been a concern about the ability to perform in substandard conditions it’s unlikely they would have competed in it in the first place.
Another predictive component of a horse’s ability to run on a less than perfect track is experience on turf and, to a lesser extent, synthetic surfaces. Turf is more yielding than dirt, so there are some similarities between it and a muddy track. In any case, experience on any surface other than dirt is a positive as it indicates an ability to adapt and perform on a variety of track types.
Finally, a horse’s pedigree can also indicate whether or not he’ll perform well in substandard track conditions. Like so many other competitive traits, you’ll frequently see horses that do well in mud produce offspring that also perform well in the slop.
This Belmont Stakes Betting guide was written by BelmontStakes.org and earned a 4.5/5 rating.