History will be made when the Belmont Stakes is run for the 152nd time on June 20, but no one knows if it will be the stuff of legends or the footnote variety.
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The race, which has traditionally capped the Triple Crown, will for the first time be run as the first leg in the historic three-race series consisting of the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes.
But this year’s series is being referred to as the “Triple Corona” after the coronavirus pandemic forced officials of the host tracks to improvise to avoid an interruption in the series – a sweep of which is considered the most famous accomplishment in American horse racing.
When the organizers of the Derby decided to postpone the race traditionally run on the first Saturday in May until September, the Preakness followed suit and claimed the first Saturday in October. That forced officials with the New York Racing Association to decide whether to try to shoehorn the Belmont near the end of the year, working around the Breeders’ Cup in early November, or stick to its usual spot on the June calendar.
They chose the latter.
As a result, the Belmont Stakes 2020 race named for famed New York sportsman August Belmont will lead off the series for the first time. But that’s just one of the many firsts that will occur:
- The race will be run at 1 1/8th mile for the first time in the modern era instead of its traditional 1 ½ miles, a marathon distance that earned it the nickname “the Test of the Champion.” The race also was contested at that distance in 1893 and 1894.
- It will be run around a single turn instead of two.
- The purse of the race will be cut by one-third, from $1.5 million last year to $1 million.
- It will kick off an elongated series that will be run over a span of 15 weeks instead of the usual five.
- And there will be no fans in the vast Belmont Park grandstand when the horses break from the gate, a possibility those bent on honoring August Belmont so many years ago could never have imagined.
While all these changes have understandably upset racing traditionalists, they also make for a one-of-a-kind race that has its own unique intrigue.
For one thing, while the Belmont Stakes typically is a “last man standing” type affair that draws only a handful of horses that have contested the other Triple Crown races, as well as a few fresh faces hoping to catch the top contenders at less than their best after two grueling races in the preceding five weeks.
But this year’s Belmont the race is expected to draw most of the leaders of the 3-year-old division, producing a fairly full field.
Belmont Stake 2020 Horses & Early Favorites
Among the likely starters are Tiz the Law, the probable favorite off his wins in the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes and Florida Derby as well as the Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes; the brilliant Bob Baffert-trained Charlatan, assuming a positive test for a prohibited substance after his victory in a split division of the Arkansas Derby doesn’t derail his bid; and Maxfield, who is 3-for-3 after winning the Matt Winn Stakes in his 3-year-old comeback from winter ankle surgery.
Belmont Stakes 2020 Odds & Prediction
American Gambler will update you on the odds set by US horse racing betting sites on Belmont Stakes favorites in 2020 in another article. There we’ll take a closer look at the field and betting odds & predictions the week before the race, but in the meantime here are the facts you’ll need to know to be ready for this one-of-a-kind Belmont Stakes experience.
Date, place, time
The 2020 Belmont Stakes will be held on Saturday, June 20 at Belmont Park, in Elmont, New York. Post time will be approximately 5:45 p.m. local time, or 9:45 p.m. UTC.
Where to bet on the Belmont Stakes 2020 in the U.S.
You can’t bet on the Belmont Stakes 2020 race on track, but it’s possible to back your opinion with cash at off-track betting outlets in states where pari-mutuel betting on horse races is legal. You can also bet on the race over the internet via legal U.S. advance deposit horse betting wagering (ADW) sites like NYRABets and TVG.com.
Belmont Stakes Free Bets
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Where to watch Belmont Stakes 2020 Online
You won’t be able to watch the race in person unless you’re licensed by the New York Racing Association and have permission to be on the historic track’s expansive grounds.
The race will, however, be broadcast nationally by NBC Sports from 3-6 p.m. ET. It also is expected to be shown on the TVG horse racing network, which has recently been partnering with NBC Sports on coverage of big races. Online you can watch a livestream of the race on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app, though you’ll need a cable or satellite TV subscription to gain access. And you can also watch at any off-track betting outlet or racebook that carries Belmont Park racing.