Horse racing has had its share of scheduling issues as a result of COVID-19. Most notably, it delayed the Kentucky Derby, making the Belmont Stakes the first leg of the Triple Crown.
The 152nd running of the Belmont Stakes will be on Saturday, June 20 at Belmont Park in Elmont, NY. Usually the longest race of the three at 1 ½ miles (12 furlongs), this year the Belmont is only 1 1/8 miles (9 furlongs). With the shift in the calendar and suspension in racing, these three-year-olds haven’t built the stamina for the usual long run.
Odds for the 2020 Belmont Stakes
Here are the contenders for the 152nd Belmont Stakes and their odds according to TVG:
|1||Tap It To Win||12/1||Mark Casse|
|2||Sole Volante||14/1||Patricia Biancone|
|3||Max Player||18/1||Linda Rice|
|4||Modernist||20/1||William I Mott|
|5||Farmington Road||22/1||Todd Pletcher|
|6||Fore Left||30/1||Doug O'Neill|
|7||Jungle Runner||50/1||Steve Asmussen|
|8||Tiz The Law||3/2||Barclay Tagg|
|9||Dr Post||9/1||Todd Pletcher|
Tiz The Law favored to win
The likely favorite entering Saturday will be Tiz The Law. Coming off an impressive Florida Derby win, trainer Barclay Tagg hopes he has a winner coming out of the eighth gate.
However, history shows that was a disappointing draw. Only five horses in the history of the stakes have come out of the eighth gate, but he has the most impressive Grade 1 resume in the field.
“It could have been worse,” Tagg said. “He likes this track, so I’m glad to be back on it.”
Jockey Manuel Franco will ride the descendant of Tapit, the leading sire in North America from 2014 to 2016. Tiz the Law has raced at Belmont before, winning the Champaign Stakes as a two-year-old.
Todd Pletcher’s two chances at Belmont
One of the most recognizable trainers in the sport, Todd Pletcher, will have two colts in the race on Saturday. He will be looking for his fourth win in the event after victories in 2007, 2013, and 2017.
One of his horses, Dr. Post, has only had three starts in his career and will likely benefit from the shortened distance.
“Under traditional timing, he was not going to be ready for any of the Triple Crown races but certainly not the Kentucky Derby,” Pletcher said this week on an NTRA teleconference. “This has kind of been to his benefit.”
His other contender will be Farmington Road. Coming out of the middle, jockey Javier Castellano will try to guide him through nine furlongs. This is a horse that might have better odds at the original distance of a mile and a half.
The Belmont Stakes field
In the 152-year history of the Belmont Stakes, no female has won the race as a trainer. Linda Rice will be trying to rewrite that stat.
“They just haven’t given women enough time yet,” she said, jokingly.
She is the trainer of Max Player, a definite contender hovering around 18/1. Joel Rosario will ride the lightly raced horse coming out of the third gate.
To no surprise, history suggests that the No. 1 gate is the best place to be with 23 past winners. Tap it To Win has won both of his starts in 2020 and will have Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse in his corner. His odds noticeably dipped after the gate draw.
John Velazquez will be riding Tap it To Win and is no stranger to the race, winning 2007 and 2012. He is the top pick for many trainers and is the top money-maker in the sport.
“People have trusted me with the horses,” said Velazquez. “I’ve been blessed with the opportunity that I’ve been given. You have to be proud and humble.”
With the crazy year for horse racing, there are no solid predictions for the 152nd Belmont Stakes. The usual “graveyard for Triple Crown hopefuls” will now be the starting point for the victor.
After Saturday, all eyes will move on to the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in September.