We’re in an era where the world’s best racehorses travel the globe in search of the top prizes each country has on offer.
Just like golf and tennis, the horseracing calendar is now truly international, setting punters the challenge of comparing form from different countries and the option to bet into high volume markets – all of which are easily accessible online and embrace a multitude of different bet types.
Unlike the horses and jockeys – you don’t need to travel around the world to place your bets!
The Belmont Stakes is simply the race where legends can be crowned. Steeped in racing history, the race for three-year-olds was first run in 1867 and represents the third and final leg of the famous American ‘Triple Crown’ with winners getting instant recognition in racing’s Hall Of Fame.
So far out, it’s impossible to get a feel for the intended runners in the 2022 Belmont Stakes and even the trainers and owners are unlikely to give it too much thought – apart from in their dreams!
Being the final leg of the Triple Crown, most initial interest will focus around the first leg, the Kentucky Derby for which the recognised trials commence in March 2022.
The first cycle of entries for all three Triple Crown races are made in January 2022 after which the picture should become a lot clearer.
For a horse to attempt the Triple Crown it needs to arrive at Belmont Park in New York having already won the Kentucky Derby (usually five weeks beforehand) and the Preakness Stakes (usually three weeks beforehand).
Not only does the Triple Crown involve winning three Grade 1 races in the space of five weeks, but it requires a horse that can win both over around 1m 2f (distance of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness) and then step up to the 1m 4f trip in the Belmont Stakes.
This distance is considered a marathon in USA racing terms, given that most horses are bred for shorter trips.
This can be a good angle for punters though, as finding a horse with the required stamina for the Belmont Stakes will be one of their first challenges with suspect stayers readily dismissed.
Little wonder the race is also known as the ‘Test Of The Champion’.
As always with major races, there are a whole stack of factors to take into account when trying to find the winner of the Belmont Stakes.
If anything though, the unique nature of the Belmont can make the process slightly easier.
The 1m 4f distance is an extreme test for US-trained runners, especially those that arrive at Belmont Park having contested the Kentucky Derby and Preakness just a few weeks earlier over around a distance of 1m 2f.
The run style of how they competed in those races is an essential form factor combined with the pedigree of the horse.
If they were staying on well in the closing stages over 1m 2f, it’s then a fair assumption to think that they will be suited by the extra distance. But conversely, horses that struggled in the closing stages of a 1m 2f race and who dropped back through the field are unlikely to improve for being tried over the longer distance.
The going at the track has mostly been fast in recent years but bear in mind when it is sloppy it will put an even stronger emphasis on stamina.
Many of the runners will have competed against each other in the first two legs of the Triple Crown in the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, so you have some very recent form to work on in terms of respective ability.
The draw or post-position as it’s called in the USA is paramount in the Belmont Stakes. The lower the number the better when it comes to the stalls.
Stall 1 has produced the highest number of winners (24) since post positions were first used at Belmont Park in 1904.
Conversely, a high draw is a real negative. There has only been 1 winner from draw 12 and 1 from draw 13 since 1904.
Horses that show early good speed and race from the front often enjoy an advantage at Belmont Park. Over the years there have been very few examples of horses finishing strongly from off the pace – despite it being raced over a relatively long trip of 1m 4f.
Whilst there have been multiple winners by the same trainer (James G. Rowe Sr holds the all-time record with eight wins at the turn of the 20th century), more recent evidence suggests the prestigious prize has been shared widely. The last six runnings have provided wins for six different trainers.
Winning the Belmont Stakes to land the Triple Crown is a huge deal in American racing. The last horse to do this was Justify in 2018.
If a horse goes into the race attempting to win the Triple Crown it is likely to be a very popular favourite and at likely short odds because of public support. This does mean though that better value might be obtained by looking elsewhere.
The race has averaged a field size of 11 over the last 10 runnings and the smallest field in the 2000+ era was just six runners in 2003.
A small field size can often put a stronger emphasis on tactics so having a jockey that can combine big race-proven success and knowledge of the unique Belmont Park circuit can bring a big advantage. The course characteristics include a long finishing straight and wide sweeping bends.
Don’t forget to read about how to bet on the Triple Crown.
The most notable winners of the Belmont Stakes are the ones that completed the Triple Crown in the process, so the race is quite unique in that regard.
Perhaps the most famous winner of all was Secretariat in 1973. Not only did he win the race by a record (and astonishing) 31 lengths, but he also did it in the quickest time of 2 minutes 24 seconds, setting the fastest sectional times in the history of the racecourse.
And if all that wasn’t enough – he also became a Triple Crown Champion. No wonder many pundits say that he was clearly the best horse of the twentieth century.
Twelve other horses have gone on to win the Triple Crown by winning the Belmont Stakes and they make up a large part of the ‘Who’s Who’ of American racing:
Sir Barton (1919), Gallant Fox (1930), Omaha (1935), War Admiral (1937), Whirlaway (1941), Count Fleet (1943), Assault (1946), Citation (1948), Seattle Slew (1977), Affirmed (1978), American Pharoah (2015) and Justify (2018).
After American Pharoah won in 2015, it came to light that his owners, Zayat Stables, had misspelled Pharoah as Pharaoh during his entire racing career. It transpired that Zayat Stables had run an online contest to name their 2014 crop of 2 year olds and one Marsha Baumgartner of Missouri had arrived at the name, but with the incorrect spelling, which no one had noticed until he was about to line up to win this most prestigious race!
From 153 runnings of the Belmont Stakes, only 23 fillies have run but three have been successful, most recently Rags To Riches in 2007.
History was made in 1993 when Julie Krone became the first female to ride a Triple Crown winner when she partnered Colonial Affair to success in the Belmont Stakes.
One of the biggest shocks in recent history came in 2002 when the hot 5/4 favourite War Emblem stumbled coming out of the stalls, losing all chance, and the race went to 70/1 outsider Sarava.
A win bet is the simplest and most popular bet type where your horse needs to win the race for you to collect the winnings.
The winnings will be dependent on the price you backed your horse at. Punters would normally select a win bet in races where they had a confident idea of the winner.
A place bet gives you more chance of a return but the odds are reduced. With a place bet you will win if your horse finishes ‘in the places’. The number of places varies depending on the race and number of runners so make sure you check this out in advance.
An each-way bet simply combines the win and place bets so that you have an equal stake on both bet types.
A forecast bet is harder to land as you need to predict the horses that will finish first and second in the race, but the rewards are greater. You can make things easier with a reverse forecast where your horses still need to finish first and second, but they can do so in order for you to collect a winning bet.
The tricast is harder still but the rewards increase for successful punters. The bet is popular in major races – especially where there are larger field sizes as the dividends can be spectacular.
The tricast requires a punter to pick the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in a race and can also be placed as a combination tricast to cover the horses finishing 1st, 2nd, or 3rd in either order.