Belmont Stakes odds and betting strategy
The Belmont Stakes is one of the most interesting races on the calendar when it comes to betting strategy.
The race offers a nice mix of horses that might have run in one, or even both of the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, while others will be lining up for the first time in a Triple Crown event. If a horse is entering the race with a chance of winning the Triple Crown, it will rightly be favorite for the race, as was the case when the two most recent Crown winners lined up (Justify of 2018, and American Pharaoh of 2015).
While the two previous Triple Crown races can offer a good insight into the favorites, horses who have not featured can have an edge.
A good example was Gronkowski in 2018. While many of the leading contenders had raced hard in the previous five weeks, Gronkowski hadn’t been in a race since the end of March. The form was there, however, as the horse had won each of his previous four starts over in Europe. The consistent Gronkowski would go on to finish second at very decent odds, despite being something of an unknown quantity to Triple Crown watchers.
Look out for a similar edge in 2019.
Past winners of the Belmont Stakes
The first-ever winner of the Belmont Stakes was Ruthless in 1867. Ruthless was the only filly in the race facing three other rivals. Being the only filly, she only had to carry 107 pounds, as opposed to 110 pounds. She eventually won the race by a head from second place DeCourcey.
In the 150-race history of the Belmont Stakes, only two other fillies triumphed: Tanya in 1905 and Rags to Riches in 2007. Only 23 fillies have ever entered the race.
Perhaps the most famous winners of the Belmont Stakes are those, who by winning, have completed the famed Triple Crown of US horse racing.
The following 13 horses have achieved that feat:
- Sir Barton (1919)
- Gallant Fox (1930)
- Omaha (1935)
- War Admiral (1937)
- Whirlaway (1941)
- Count Fleet (1943)
- Assault (1946)
- Citation (1948)
- Secretariat (1973)
- Seattle Slew (1977)
- Affirmed (1978)
- American Pharaoh (2015)
- Justify (2018)
Overall, there have been 36 occasions when a horse has won both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, but only the above 13 have managed to complete the Triple Crown at the Belmont Stakes.
The year 1993 saw a landmark victory in the Belmont Stakes when Colonial Affair hit the finishing post first. Julie Krone was aboard the winner, making her the first-ever female jockey to win a Triple Crown event.
In total, there have been nine winners of the race from outside the US. Saxon, from the UK, was the first of these invaders to win in 1874, with seven other winners from the UK and Ireland between then and 1990. The last non-US winner was Victory Gallop from Canada in 1998.
All Belmont Stakes Winners 1879 to 2018
How to qualify for the Belmont Stakes
There is a safety limit of only 12 runners in the Belmont Stakes. Unless there is an injury or if a horse has already won both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, it will be guaranteed a starting spot at the Belmont Stakes.
Career earnings are the main qualifying criteria, meaning horses who have performed well in the major races will have a place should they accept it.
Owners will have to pay $15,000 for initial entry, with another $15,000 to be paid if the horse makes the starting gate. If a horse isn’t registered for the Triple Crown races by late January, owners will have to pay an additional $75,000 for the privilege of entering.
In an ideal world, if there are different winners of the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, they’ll meet at the Belmont Stakes for the unofficial title of the best 3-year-old in racing.
Upon entering, colts and geldings will carry a weight of 126 pounds, while if a filly does enter the race, they’ll carry a weight of 121 pounds.
History of the Belmont Stakes Race
In 1866, the Jerome Park Racetrack was built in the Bronx by stock market speculator Leonard Jerome and financed by August Belmont Sr., who would lend his name to the track.
The first race, won by filly Ruthless, took place the following year and the race would continue at Jerome Park until 1890. Nearby Morris Park would host the race until 1905. Aside from a move to Aqueduct between 1963 and 1967, the Belmont Stakes has been run at Belmont Park every year since.
In 1911 and 1912, anti-gambling legislation in the state of New York saw the race canceled, but it returned in 1913 and has been running a race every year since.
The Belmont Stakes is the longest of the Triple Crown races. At 1.5 miles, it offers more of a test of endurance than the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes – the perfect race to test the all-round ability of a potential Triple Crown winner.
The nickname, the Test of the Champion, was duly given to the race.
The early days of the race were even longer, with the race run more than 1 5/8 miles, while shorter distances were experimented with at the end of the 19th and early part of the 20th centuries. The 1.5 miles distance was finally settled upon in 1926.
Another nickname for the race is the Race for the Carnations.
The winning horse is draped with a blanket of white carnations, which is a similar tradition to both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes.
Despite the long history of the race, some of the oldest traditions have been subject to change in recent years: The Sideways of New York being outed as the post-parade song by Frank Sinatra’s New York in 1997 (with a one-year experiment of using Jay-Z’s Empire State of Mind in 2010, before reverting to Sinatra in 2011).
Classic moments in the Belmont Stakes
Secretariat dominated the Triple Crown in 1973.
Having won both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes in record times (times that still hold to this day), the Penny Chenery trained horse was the rightful hot favorite for the Belmont Stakes. The early part of the race saw Secretariat and great rival Sham draw away from the field to make it a match, but then Secretariat made his move, pulling away from Sham with relative ease on the back straight.
You can hear the wonder in the race commentator’s voice when he states, “Secretariat by 12, Secretariat by 14.” The other three runners would catch Sham, but the leader would continue to pull away, winning the Belmont by a staggering 31 lengths, which is described by many as the greatest performance in the history of horse racing.
Unsurprisingly, Secretariat ran the fastest time in the history of the Belmont Stakes, too, a time that also stands to this day.
Occasionally, you find a year when two superstar horses come along at once. In any other year, Alydar might have won the Triple Crown himself, but the incredible Affirmed stood in his way.
After great tussles in the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, which both saw Affirmed come out the victor, they faced each other again. The two came into the home straight with Affirmed a nose in front, but then Alydar took the lead – this was as close as you could get in a race. The final 100 yards saw Affirmed manage to get up again, winning by the smallest of margins as they crossed the line together.
An incredible race and a fitting way for Affirmed to tie up the Triple Crown.
Before 2007, only two fillies had ever won the Belmont Stakes, but it was clear after the dominating victory in the Kentucky Oaks that Rags to Riches was something special.
Could they take on the men and win the Belmont? Things didn’t look good when she stumbled at the start, but Rags to Riches soon recovered, and it would eventually become a head to head with Preakness Stakes winner Curlin as they entered the stretch. Curlin was on the inside and Rags to Riches was on the outside.
“These two in a battle of the sexes in the Belmont Stakes” shouted the commentator excitedly.
The filly managed to get her head in front and, in a close finish, would run out the victor.
Belmont Stakes FAQ
When is the Belmont Stakes race?
The Belmont Stakes takes place annually on the first or second Saturday in June. In 2019, the race will take place on Saturday, June 8, three weeks after the running of the Preakness Stakes and five weeks after the Kentucky Derby.
How many horses run in the race?
There is an upper limit of 12 runners in the Belmont Stakes, although it’s unusual to find a full field of 12 horses.
In 2018, for example, there were just 10 runners in the race, and there were 11 runners in 2017. In 1973, Secretariat faced four rivals in the Belmont Stakes. This lower limit ensures that the Belmont Stakes is potentially the best of the Triple Crown races in terms of quality from top to bottom.
How much does the winner of the Belmont Stakes receive?
In 2019, there will be a total prize of $1.5 million for the Belmont Stakes. The winning connections will receive a payday of $800,000, with prize money being paid out to all of the horses down to eighth place in the race.
When is the post time of the Belmont Stakes?
In 2019, the Belmont Stakes will start at 6.30 p.m. EST. Television coverage of the event will begin at 5 p.m. EST on NBC.
How much are Belmont Stakes tickets?
There are several different levels at which you can buy tickets for the Belmont Stakes. At the top end of the spectrum, there is a variety of ticket packages ensuring entry into the Platinum, Gold and Bronze clubhouses, as well as the Garden Terrace and Champagne Room.
Each of these offers hospitality, too, and range from $699 to $1,299. At this premium level, box seating is also available starting at $425.
Visitors to Belmont can gain general admission starting at $80, which includes a wristband for four 12-ounce beers and water, and a trackside view of the final turn. The GA crowd can enjoy food trucks and a live DJ, too.
Reserved seating starts at $70, where you can enjoy the best views of the finish line, with access to the backyard entertainment and paddock views.
What is the fastest time at the Belmont Stakes?
Secretariat set the fastest time in the history of the race in 1973, with a time of exactly 2:24 (timing in this era was divided into fifths of a second). No other horse in the history of the race (at 1.5 miles) has run below 2:26.
The fastest winner in the 21st century was Point Given in 2001, with a time of 2:26.56.
Which jockeys and trainers have had the most wins?
There is little doubt that the most dominant jockey in the early days of the race was Jim McLaughlin with an incredible six wins in seven races between 1882 and 1888. He achieved the three-peat twice – 1882-1884 and 1886-1888.
Eddie Arcaro matched the six wins in 1955; his wins spread out over 15 years starting in 1941.
The most successful trainer in the history of the Belmont Stakes is James G. Rowe Sr., who held an incredible eight wins. He first won in 1893, with his final success in the race coming in 1913. He also won the race twice as a jockey.