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Submitted by National Race Masters on Wednesday, May 29, 2019 at 3:39 PM

Belmont Stakes Preview
NRM Staff
Wednesday, May 29


A week from Saturday at Belmont Park nine aspirational 3-year olds who will be looking for a triumph in their first Triple Crown race while Preakness champ War Of Will, the only one to have participated in the first two legs of the Crown, will be looking for his second triumph.

While traditionalists have long, and deservedly so, called the Belmont Stakes The Test of the Champion, we add that it is the Ultimate Adventure and Reward for Bettors.

The Adventure is in the myriad of handicapping angles that must be considered (more on that below) but the Reward is easy to point out. Just compare the payoffs with the Preakness stakes.

Despite the fact that over the last 20 years the average field size in the Preakness has been larger at 10.8 three year olds per race to 10.6 in the Belmont Stakes, the payoffs don’t come close to comparing.

In the Preakness the average payoffs during those corresponding twenty years (1999-2018) have been:

Win - $11.55…Exacta $101.45…Trifecta $1,050.55…Superfecta $7,654.20

In the Belmont Stakes the average payoffs from 1999-2018 have been:

Win - $32.65…Exacta $377.10…Trifecta $3,029.75…Superfecta $20,681.40.

Same average field size, yet 3 times the average payoffs. What gives?

What gives is simple. By the time the three-year old division reaches the Belmont Stakes, the entire landscape has changed.


There is no question that the move from the Kentucky Derby to the Preakness Stakes provides bettors with a set of angles which have remained more or less consistent.

For instance, since 1984, the year after Deputed Testimony won the Preakness in 1983 after not running in the Derby, 32 of 36 Preakness winners ran in the Derby. And with all respect to Bernardini, it might have been 33 of 36 had Barbaro not tragically broken down.

Not only that, but even though over the last 28 years (since 1991) less than half of the Preakness field on average consisted of last out Derby runners, those runners contributed to over 65% of the 1-2-3-4 finishes to fill out the exotics. Clearly the default position for bettors in the Preakness has been to take long and hard positions on Derby runners.

No such dynamic exists in the Belmont.


While there has been a moderately successful recent trend of trainers running in the Derby, skipping the Preakness and running back in the Belmont (there are, as of this writing 4 such three year olds in the 2019 field, Master Fencer, Spinoff, Tacitus and Tax) this is a move in which it is significantly difficult to separate one from the other of such Derby-to-Belmont runners because of the inconsistent form they showed in the Kentucky Derby.

Here is how runners who competed in the Derby and skipped the Preakness fared in the Belmont Stakes in recent years with their placement in the Derby and Belmont Stakes.

2018 – Hofburg (7th-3rd) - Vino Rosso (9th-4th) - Free Drop Billy (16th-7th) - Noble Indy (17th-10th)
2017 – Tapwrit (6th-1st) - Irish War Cry (10th-2nd) - Patch (14th-3rd) - Gormley (9th-4th) - J Boys Echo (15th-9th)
2016 – Creator (13th-1st) - Destin (6th-2nd) - Brody’s Cause (7th-6th) - Suddenbreakingnews (5th-9th) - Trojan Nation (16th-10th)
(Note – While the Derby-Belmont maneuver proved successful in both 2017 and 2016, the 5 runners which were in play in 2016 went off at odds of between 5.2-1 and 66.25-1 with the two lowest priced Derby returnees finishing second and off the board, which is why even with some of these runners being viable, it is a matter of a wide spread, which means finding the right one, which in turn means, big payoffs.)
2015 – In American Pharoah’s Triple Crown year only seven runners challenged him. Five of those seven were derby-Belmont participants and Frosted, Keen ice, Mubtaahij and Frammento ran 2-3-4-5 with materiality last. This short field and low payoff was of course an abnormality.
2014 – This was, of course, the year that California Chrome was denied the Triple Crown. It was also a year in which the 1-2 finishers in the Belmont Stakes, Tonalist and Commissioner, had not run in either leg of the Triple Crown but had finished 1-2 in the local Peter pan prior to capturing the Belmont. Otherwise…
Medal Count (8th-3rd) – Wicked Strong (4th-DH 4th) – Samraat – 5th-6th) – Commanding Curve (2nd-9th)
2013 – Palace Malice (12th-1st)…and while that was a successful move for trainer Todd Pletcher and jockey Mike Smith it should be noted that there were 6 other Derby runners in the race and they finished 5th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 11th and 14th and of the 7 total participants, there were 3 of them who went off at shorter odds than the 13.8-1 of Palace Malice.

We could go on and on, but we have to believe that the point for why the spread out pools and abundantly high average returns in the Belmont are a tradition.

Now that we’ve briefly touched on some of the reasons for the bettors finding such difficulty in separating the contenders, in our next segment we will begin showing you some of the angles that might help you in forming your own shorts lists.

One of the main things we will address is the public’s love of betting deep closers in the Belmont because they believe their “eyes” and believe that had that last out closer just had more ground, he’d have gotten it done. This belief is a money burner. And among the angles we’ll show you is the absolute proof of that statement.

Of course, the best way to maximize your prospects of taking your share of the BIG BELMONT PAYOFFS is to put one or more of our 5 Top handicappers on the case. Just check out the Belmont Offers on the home page.

Check back Friday for our next preview.

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