The field for the 149th Belmont Stakes on June 10 is shaping up, and with it, sportsbooks are releasing early odds for the final leg of the Triple Crown. Check out possible contenders, their prices, as well as a few handicapping tips for the race here.
Online sportsbook 5Dimes released early odds for the 2017 Belmont Stakes on Monday, the race scheduled to run on June 10 at Belmont Park in New York. The final leg of the Triple Crown will not involve Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming or Preakness Stakes champion Cloud Computing, each ruled out for the 1½-mile test. Confirmed runners do include race favorite Classic Empire (+160). The 2-year-old champion finished runner-up at Pimlico and a hard-fought fourth in the Derby following a horrid trip. Odds-on favorites for the race have burned bettors of late. Eight of the last 10 have lost.
Second choice on the board is the Triple Crown newcomer Epicharis (+450). The Japanese-trained grandson of Sunday Silence last claimed second in the rich UAE Derby in March. He’ll be joined by the Preakness-winning trainer Chad Brown’s Twisted Tom (+1600), who romped in the Federico Tesio on April 22. Leading jockey Javier Castellano will ride.
Other confirmed starters comprise a host of horses that competed in one of the first two Triple Crown legs, including Lookin At Lee (+500), who gets a jock change with Irad Ortiz Jr. on board, Senior Investment (+800), J Boys Echo (+1600), and Tapwrit (+450). Likely to saddle are also Multiplier (+2000) and Irap (+1400). Peter Pan runner-up Meantime (+2500) is a projected contender, though the longest price on the board. Also possible for the race are Conquest Mo Money (+1000), Patch (+2000), and Gormley (+1000). Hollywood Handsome (unavailable) and Irish War Cry (unavailable) are longshots for the field. The former is more likely to run in the $500,000 Ohio Derby on June 24, while trainer Graham Motion will make a decision on the Wood Memorial winner after a workout Saturday.
No Value in Favorites
Behind the Derby, the Belmont is the second-best betting race of the Triple Crown trio historically. Why? Underlays at the top are typical. This mainly occurs when a horse is competing for a Triple Crown, a situation absent this year. Media hype, souvenir tickets, overconfidence, and the like, drive the odds down to unhealthy levels. In the last century, for example, the favorite wins 42 percent of the time, yet loses a whopping 23 percent of one’s investment.
Stamina and Conditioning
Aptly nicknamed “Big Sandy,” the Belmont surface is the longest dirt thoroughbred racetrack in North America. For most runners, this will be the furthest distance they cover in their career. One must consider modern thoroughbred training methods when handicapping the race. Throw out the idea that a horse needs to be well rested to win the event. Bettors should look for contenders in tip-top shape, ready to stretch it out for the long haul. The demanding distance is difficult for any horse to win—yet alone, a young, developing three-year-old carrying 126 pounds. Like humans, horses need to be conditioned to run long distances, but training and racing methods over the last few decades have traced backwards in regards to featuring stamina. Favor those putting in long works and have stretched out more than once in their career.
Take note: in the last four decades, every Belmont winner raced within 36 days, or five weeks of the event. We’re looking at you Epicharis. Also, lean Kentucky Derby runners that skipped the Preakness. Since 2000, half (8) of the race winners made this move, including last year’s champion Creator. Typically, these are horses better equipped to tackle the unique demands of the race versus the Derby winner.
Horses that run on or near the lead through the first half mile of dirt route races win nearly 60 percent of the time. It is difficult for them to find the perfect balance of speed, grip, and stamina on the surface to pass their peers down the stretch after running a mile or more, particularly with young horses. To do so from far back, the race has to set up in unlikely ways.
William Quirin’s speed points (0-8), found on Brisnet Past Performances, are a fabulous tool to help determine a horses running style. In the Triple Crown series, bettors should favor those in the 2-to-5 range. This is the sweet spot. Not only do these runners stay within striking distance of the leaders, but also their pressing or stalking styles allow them to expend their energy evenly over the course of the long race. Since 2000, horses with 6 speed points or more are just 1 for 26 in the Belmont. The deepest closers often run out of room, too. In 2006, Jazil came from over ten lengths back to win, while Creator rallied from 11 to win last year.Join SBR's Horse Racing Forum