Representing the final leg of U.S. thoroughbred horse racing's Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes is one of the top wagering events in the month of June. James Bisson is here to take a look at just how important post position is at the Belmont, along with post position trends that might provide some insight into the best bets for 2024 at our top horse racing betting sites.
The No. 1 post position has historically been more lucrative than any other spot at the Belmont Stakes – but with only one winner from that slot in the previous 21 years, you might want to weigh in more recent history when pouring over the Belmont Stakes odds.
Here's a breakdown of post positions to help you make your Belmont Stakes picks.
What is post position?
Post position refers to the stall or gate number from which a horse starts a race.
In horse racing, horses are assigned a specific post position before the race begins. The post positions are typically numbered, and each horse is assigned a number that corresponds to a specific stall or gate at the starting point of the track.
The post position determines the starting location of the horse in relation to the rail and other horses. It can have an impact on the horse's race strategy, the distance it needs to travel to reach the first turn, and its chances of securing a favorable position early in the race.
How Belmont Stakes post position is determined
The post positions for the Belmont Stakes are determined through a random drawing process. The drawing usually takes place the Tuesday morning before the race.
During the drawing, a numbered pill or a marble representing each horse's entry is placed in a blind draw machine. The machine is then activated, and the pills or marbles are mixed thoroughly. The race officials or representatives from the participating horses or their connections take turns drawing the pills or marbles from the machine.
As each pill or marble is drawn, the corresponding number is assigned to the horse, determining its post position for the race. The process continues until all the post positions have been assigned to the participating horses.
This random drawing ensures fairness and prevents any bias or manipulation in determining the post positions for the Belmont Stakes.
Post position numbering system
The post position numbering system in horse racing typically follows a sequential order, starting from the inside rail and progressing outward. Here is a general description of the numbering system used for post positions:
- Inside Rail: The horse starting from the stall closest to the inner rail is assigned Number 1. This position is often considered advantageous as it offers a shorter distance to the first turn.
- Next Inside: The horse starting from the stall adjacent to the inside rail is assigned Number 2.
- Progression: The numbering continues in sequential order, with each subsequent horse being assigned the next available number. For example, the third horse from the inside rail would be assigned Number 3, the fourth horse would be assigned Number 4, and so on.
The highest post position number is typically determined by the number of participating horses in the race. For example, with the 2023 Belmont Stakes boasting a nine-horse field, entrants are numbered one through nine.
2024 Belmont Stakes post positions
With the Belmont Stakes post position draw traditionally taking place on either the Monday or Tuesday prior to the race, you have plenty of time between draw day and the actual race to peruse the best horse racing betting sites to determine the best places to make your picks.
Here's a look back at the post position list and odds for the 2023 Belmont Stakes (odds courtesy FanDuel):
|Forte||Todd A. Pletcher||6||+250 (5-2)|
|Tapit Trice||Todd A. Pletcher||2||+300 (3-1)|
|Angel of Empire||Brad H. Cox||8||+350 (7-2)|
|National Treasure||Bob Baffert||4||+500 (5-1)|
|Arcangelo||Jena M. Antonucci||3||+800 (8-1)|
|Hit Show||Brad H. Cox||7||+1000 (10-1)|
|Red Route One||Steve Asmussen||9||+1500 (15-1)|
|Tapit Shoes||Todd A. Pletcher||1||+2000 (20-1)|
|Il Miracolo||Antonio Sano||5||+3000 (30-1)|
Best post position at the Belmont Stakes
The Belmont Stakes post position draw is a significant event as the starting position can impact a horse's chances of winning. However, the historical data shows that the success rate of horses in the Belmont Stakes does not necessarily follow a clear pattern based on post position.
Here are the number and percentage of Belmont Stakes winners from each post position since Belmont Park first used a starting gate:
|Post position||Winners||Win Rate|
Horses starting from the No. 1 slot have easily been more successful than any other in Belmont Stakes history, winning more than 20% of the time. Interestingly, though, there has been just one winner from the No. 1 hole since 2003; that was Justify in 2018.
Though post position does mean plenty for a horse's prospects, bettors would be wise not to use it as the sole barometer for determining which wagers to make.
Worst post position at the Belmont Stakes
We'll ignore the results from starting positions 10 and higher, since it's rare to see the Belmont field that large. Of the single-digit starting positions, No. 9 has been the least fruitful with just four winners starting there.
How to use post position to handicap the Belmont Stakes
Using post position to handicap the Belmont Stakes involves considering the historical performance and characteristics of horses based on their starting positions. Here are some factors to consider when using post position as a handicapping tool:
- Distance to First Turn: A horse's post position can affect its proximity to the first turn. Inside post positions (closer to the rail) have a shorter distance to travel to reach the turn, which can be advantageous. Horses in outside post positions may need to cover more ground and navigate wider turns.
- Track Bias: Assess the track bias for previous races at the Belmont Stakes. Some tracks tend to favor specific post positions, such as inside or outside. Consider how the track bias may impact a horse's performance from a particular post position.
- Running Style: Evaluate a horse's preferred running style (front-runner, closer, or mid-pack) and how it aligns with their post position. Inside positions may be advantageous for front-runners, allowing them to secure an early lead, while outside positions can benefit closers who prefer to make late moves.
- Traffic and Positioning: Consider how post position may impact a horse's ability to find clear running room and avoid traffic. Inside positions may be more prone to getting trapped on the rail or boxed in, while outside positions can offer more opportunities for maneuvering and avoiding congestion.
- Historical Data: Examine past performances of horses in the Belmopnt Stakes based on their post positions. Look for trends or patterns that indicate a higher likelihood of success or struggles from specific starting positions.
It's important to note that post position is just one factor among many to consider when handicapping a race. It should be used in conjunction with other relevant information, such as a horse's form, jockey, trainer, class, and recent performances, to make informed betting decisions.
Horse racing betting odds pages
|Kentucky Derby Odds||Preakness Stakes Odds||Belmont Stakes Odds|
|Kentucky Derby Post Position||Preakness Stakes Post Position||Belmont Stakes Post Position|
Belmont Stakes post position FAQs
What is the best Belmont Stakes post position?
The No. 1 spot has produced the most winners in Belmont Stakes history, with 24.
What is the worst Belmont Stakes post position?
Ignoring results from larger-field Belmont Stakes races, the No. 9 spot has been the least prolific of the single-digit starting spots, producing just four champions.
How are post positions determined in the Belmont Stakes?
Post positions in the Belmont Stakes are typically determined through a random draw conducted by race officials, assigning each horse a specific starting gate position.
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