When you have a unique situation in horse racing – and the 2020 Belmont Stakes certainly qualifies – that means there are unique opportunities for profit.
Finding them is not easy, but if you can fashion a well-formed opinion that doesn’t quite correspond with those of your fellow handicappers, an extraordinary payday could await.
If it were run in its usual position as the final leg of the Triple Crown at its usual distance of 1 ½ miles, handicappers would be armed with reams of historical data to help isolate the contenders, making it harder to find an angle that everyone else isn’t also following. But because of the massive disruption to the racing schedule caused by the coronavirus, we’re all searching for lifelines to grab onto.
Finding a profitable angle for betting the Belmont
The challenge of finding a profitable angle for betting the Belmont, which will be run at 1 1/8 miles for just the third time in history and will lead off the reconfigured Triple Crown for the first time in its 153-year history, is compounded by the presence of heavy favorite Tiz the Law, who may go off at even-money or lower.
Trained by Barclay Tagg, best known for guiding New York-bred Funny Cide to victories in the 2003 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, and ridden by Manny Franco for owners Sackatoga Stable, Tiz the Law is a deserving favorite.
The son of Constitution is four for five in his brief career, his only loss coming when he was pocketed along the rail in the Kentucky Jockey Cup in November at Churchill Downs and checked in third, beaten less than a length. The race was run over a sloppy racetrack, providing a possible excuse for what was still a pretty strong performance.
Tiz the Law’s running style as a close-up stalker also gives his rider opportunities to make tactical choices at different parts of a race and helps the colt make his own racing luck, meaning he can usually stay out of trouble by finding a less crowded spot in the first echelon. That also plays to the front-running nature of Belmont Park’s profile at the current meeting, which opened on June 3.
But here’s where we get into the interesting stuff for which there is no historical precedent.
Four of the 10 horses in the field, are coming into the race off layoffs of anywhere from a couple months to more than five in the case of Max Player, winner of the Withers Stakes (Gr3) at Aqueduct in early February. That includes Tiz the Law, who last raced on March 28 at Gulfstream Park, nearly three months before his scheduled Belmont start.
That’s a longer break than is typical for horses being prepared for a demanding race like the Belmont, with six weeks considered optimal by many top trainers because it gives the horse time to recover and replenish spent energy while also developing additional muscle mass. Trainers can compensate for the time off by getting more aggressive with a horse’s workout regimen, but that also creates opportunities for something to go amiss.
Belmont Stakes 2020 Predictions
Four horses with near-normal recency in the field – Farmington Road, Pneumatic, Sole Volante and Tap It to Win – are particularly intriguing because of this likely conditioning edge.
I will make Farmington Road a contender, even though his late rallies typically come up short and his typical wide closing move typically doesn’t play well at Belmont Park.
Pneumatic finished third in the Matt Winn Stakes (Gr3) at Churchill Downs in his stakes debut on May 4, beaten less than 2 lengths after fighting for and eventually taking the lead into the stretch. The two horses who finished ahead of him, Maxfield and Ny Traffic, are both on many top 10 Derby contender lists – or at least were until Maxfield suffered a broken leg last week.
In the Belmont Stakes, Pneumatic should be able to secure a nice stalking position behind likely pace-setters Tap It to Win and Fore Left in the early stages of the race and should still have be able to improve in what will be just his third lifetime route race. He drew a nice outside post and seems a threat to at least hit the board.
Also intriguing is Sole Volante, who has recency aplenty, having run and won on June 10 – just 10 days before the Belmont Stakes. That’s an unusual move by trainer Patrick Biancone, but one that could pay off if the late-running son of Karakontie can quickly rebound from what was a fairly demanding race.
I will make him a contender, even though his running style is contrary to the way the track has been playing.
Finally, Tap It to Win won an allowance race at 1 1/6th mile on June 4 at Belmont and did so in a scintillating fashion, drawing clear in the stretch and stopping the clock just one tick slower than the track record for the distance. This is a big step up in class, but the Mark Casse-trained colt’s speed is a major asset on the Belmont track the way it’s been playing and he seems the logical second pick in here.
Of the horses returning off layoffs, the only one that grabs my eye is Dr Post, who stepped up off his maiden score to win the $75,000 Unbridled Stakes at Gulfstream Park on April 25. That was a tough trip for the lightly raced son of Quality Road and any additional improvement will put him in the mix for a Belmont placing.
My 2020 Belmont betting strategy will revolve around trifectas. On my main tickets, I’ll use Tap It to Win, Pneumatic and Tiz the Law in the top tier, adding Dr Post Farmington Road and Sole Volante in the second tier and widen out a little further in the third slot.
If Tiz the Law wins, which appears likely, that would yield a decent payoff. But if Tap It to Win or Pneumatic manage to upend the favorite, that would make for a very nice score.
Belmont Stakes Predictions 2020 & Updated Odds
Post Horse Trainer Jockey Record Odds
1 Tap It to Win Mark Casse John Velazquez 6-3-1-0 6-1
2 Sole Volante Patrick Biancone Luca Panici 6-4-1-1 9-2
3 Joel Rosario Linda Rice Dylan Davis 3-2-1-0 15-1
4 Modernist Bill Mott Junior Alvarado 5-2-0-2 15-1
5 Farmington Road Todd Pletcher Javier Castellano 4-1-1-0 15-1
6 Fore Left Doug O’Neill Jose Ortiz 9-4-0-2 30-1
7 Jungle Runner Steve Asmussen Raylu Guitierrez 8-2-0-0 50-1
8 Tiz the Law Barclay Tagg Manny Franco 5-4-0-1 6-5
9 Dr Post Todd Pletcher Irad Ortiz Jr. 3-2-0-0 5-1
10 Pneumatic Steve Asmussen Ricardo Santana Jr. 3-2-0-1 8-1
When is Belmont Stakes 2020
Post time for the Belmont Stakes is scheduled for 5:40 p.m. ET. The race will be shown live on NBC and TVG, with NBC providing special coverage of the race and other stakes races at Belmont Park from 3-6 p.m. ET. The special also will be livestreamed at NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.
Belmont Stakes 2020 Betting Sites & Promo
Wagering on the Belmont Stakes will be available through advance deposit wagering platforms, off-track betting location throughout the U.S., but oddly not at the track, since racing is still being conducted without fans in the stands.
An eight or nine-horse field appears likely six days ahead of the $1 million race on June 20 at Belmont Park, which will award 150-60-30-15 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the top-four finishers. But defections or additions are still possible ahead of entries being drawn and the morning line posted on Wednesday at noon ET, which will be livestreamed on NYRA’s YouTube channel.