Betting Preview of the 2020 Belmont Stakes Race
For the past 151 years, the Belmont Stakes has been counted among the premier competitions for thoroughbred horses in the world. In that time, the purses have gotten larger, the horses faster, the jockeys lighter—and the crowds filling the stands larger, louder, and more colorful.
Actually, the purses have gotten much, much larger. In 1867, for instance, the purse offered for the first running of the Belmont Stakes was a nominal $1,500, augmented with nomination and entry fees to $2,500.
In the 1920s, the purse grew into the tens of thousands of dollars. And for the past six years (2014-2019), the purse has been $1,500,000, but business upheavals and quarantines this year have forced a reduction of the 2020 Belmont Stakes purse to $1,000,000.
Incidentally, the Belmont Stakes has not always been held at Belmont Park. For its first few years (1876-1890), it was held at Jerome Park Racetrack in The Bronx.
In 1890, the stakes race moved to Morris Park Racecourse (also in The Bronx), where it ran until 1905, when it moved to Long Island into the newly constructed Belmont Park in Elmont, New York.
In this Belmont Stakes guide for 2020, I talk about some of the changes that have happened this year, the horses competing (along with their odds), and the jockeys and trainers. I also provide the best horse racing betting sites at the end so that you’ve got everything you need when it comes to betting on the Belmont Stakes this year.
Yeah, pretty much. Along with the reduction in the size of this year’s purse, the Belmont Stakes is being shortened from its traditional length of 1-1/2 miles to 1-1/8 miles.
Oh, and there will be no spectators at Belmont Park.
The Belmont Stakes is a world-class challenge and lifetime goal in and of itself, but it also represents one of the three jewels of the Triple Crown of thoroughbred racing. To win that, a horse must cross the finish line first at the Kentucky Derby, the Belmont Stakes, and the Preakness.
For the past few decades, it has been the Kentucky Derby, followed by the Preakness, and ending with the Belmont Stakes. But there was a time when the order of the three races was not etched in stone. One year might see the Preakness follow the Belmont Stakes, for example. But this year will be the first year ever when the Belmont Stakes preceded both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness.
It might be a bit disconcerting, but the new schedule is the result of a lot of skull sweat to make the Triple Crown—and all of its component parts—work. Juggling track closures, interrupted meets, and cancellations of many of the qualifying races on the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” has resulted in some significant changes in the order of events. Also bear in mind that all three races are for “three-year-old” thoroughbreds, which kind of limits how far into the future you can postpone a particular race.
Another big change is the addition of numerous qualifying races between the Belmont Stakes and the Kentucky Derby.
This year, after the Belmont Stakes, there are eight more qualifying races scheduled which were either postponed back in March or have been added to the “Road” because of the quarantine lockdowns. And after those eight qualifying races (during which leaderboard positions and “Road” scores will change dramatically), the Kentucky Derby will run at Churchill Downs on September 5, and this year’s third jewel of the Triple Crown—the Preakness—will run at Pimlico on October 3, 2020.
Horses in the 2020 Belmont Stakes
Of the 400-plus horses nominated for the “Road to the 2020 Kentucky Derby,” only 65 have scored points to-date in the various qualifying races.
And of the 10 horses drawn for this year’s Belmont Stakes, nine are “Road” nominees (Tap It to Win is the only exception), and seven have points on the “Road” leaderboard. Tiz the Law currently holds the #1 position on that leaderboard, while Jungle Runner is #58 with 1 point.
Here’s the complete “Road” scoreboard for the 2020 Belmont Stakes entrants.
|1||122||Tiz the Law|
|–||–||Tap It to Win|
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That will almost certainly change, since this year’s Belmont Stakes is considered a qualifying race for the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” and will award 150 points to the 2020 winner (the second, third, and fourth place horses will receive 60, 30, and 15 points, respectively). So in a single race, Jungle Runner could jump to the #1 position on this year’s Road to the Kentucky Derby.
Could that happen? Sure, theoretically. But let’s take a look at the moneyline odds for each 2020 Belmont Stakes contender. The moneyline is the odds assigned to the horses entered into a particular race based on their records, their jockeys, their gate position, etc. It’s a good but rough ruler to use when measuring a horse’s chances.
Belmont Stakes Odds for 2020
Here are the moneyline odds on the 10 horses drawn for this year’s Belmont Stakes.
|1||Tap It to Win||6/1|
|8||Tiz the Law||6/5|
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Tiz the Law is obviously the favorite at 6/5 (pays $4.40 on a $2 bet), while Jungle Runner is off in “Not in this lifetime” 50/1 territory (which incidentally would pay $120 on a $2 bet). The actual payout odds will be governed by pari-mutuel wagering, though, so don’t get too hung up on the moneyline.
And as far as the future is concerned, bear in mind that with eight more qualifying races between the Belmont Stakes and the Kentucky Derby in September, it becomes less likely that there will be a Triple Crown winner this year. But that’s okay—in the history of these three races, only 13 horses have accomplished that.
Like any world-class competition, you can expect plenty of star quality athletes—not just the horses, mind you, but the men and women who ride them to glory. Here’s a quick look at the statistics on 2020’s Belmont Stakes jockeys.
|Jockey||Win %||WPS %*|
|Jose L. Ortiz||18%||49%|
|Irad Ortiz, Jr.||19%||51%|
|Ricardo Santana Jr.||16%||44%|
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* WPS % is the percentage of starts resulting in a Win, Place, or Show (how often the jockey finished “in the money”)
Many of the jockeys above have ridden horses in the top thoroughbred races, including the Triple Crown races, the Breeder’s Cup, and any number of other Grade I stakes races. Javier Castellano is in the Racing Hall of Fame, as is John Valazquez.
Even more important than the jockey (but not quite as important as the horse—I mean, come on!) is the trainer. Trainers are responsible for getting the best possible performance from a thoroughbred, and you can bet that the horses running in this year’s Belmont Stakes have had the very best schooling, indeed.
Virtually all of the trainers behind the horses in this year’s Belmont Stakes have multiple wins in one or more of the Triple Crown races, as well as Breeder’s Cup wins. Two of the trainers—Steve Asmussen and William Mott—are thoroughbred racing Hall of Famers. Two of the trainers—Steve Asmussen and Todd Pletcher— have more than one horse in this race.
In an earlier era, running a horse race of this magnitude “spectatorless” probably would have killed the event for all time, but the internet and streaming video—not to mention regular television broadcasts—will ensure that more people see the Belmont Stakes than ever before.
And of course, there is an equally prodigious number of online racebooks ready to take your wagers on the outcome. We’ve even pre-vetted a few recommended Belmont Stakes betting sites for your convenience.