The 2020 Belmont Stakes should draw intense interest from the betting public and the sports world at large. Taking place this coming Saturday at Belmont Park in New York, it represents the first leg of thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown. In this 2020 Belmont Stakes betting preview, we’ll give you all the information you need to place a wise wager.
The sports world has been turned completely topsy-turvy over the past few months, with evens cancelling left and right. In a way, the sport of horse racing was able to withstand the crisis better than some other major sports. This is especially true when you consider that the Triple Crown events, which draw so much attention to the sport, have all managed to stay on the schedule.
That schedule has been drastically altered, however. The normal order of the races features the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May, the Preakness Stakes two weeks after that, and then the Belmont Stakes three weeks after that. But the Derby and the Preakness both had to move out, landing in September and October, respectively.
Down but Not Out
The 2020 Belmont Stakes, meanwhile, was only delayed a few weeks, which puts it first up on the agenda this year. But it hasn’t quite come out unscathed. Due to the fact that many three-year-old horses haven’t amassed the kind of experience that they normally would have accrued by this point, the distance of the Belmont has been shaved down.
Normally, the Belmont Stakes is 1 ½ miles, the longest of all the Triple Crown events. The 2020 Belmont Stakes is only 1 1/8 miles, which makes it a one-turn race on the large Belmont track. That doesn’t quite make it “the Test” that it has been in most years.
But the importance of the race hasn’t diminished a bit. If anything, it has only grown. Because this year the Belmont will also serve as a Kentucky Derby qualifier, with the winner pretty much guaranteed of a spot in the Derby field.
And that doesn’t even to take into account the fact that horse racing fans, and sports fans in general, have been hungering for a major event of some sort. The 2020 Belmont Stakes certainly qualifies. As a result, you can expect that the betting interest will be intense.
Early indications are that much of that betting attention will be focused on Tiz The Law, who has emerged from a crowded group of top three-year-olds and looks like the one to beat not just in the 2020 Belmont Stakes, but for future Triple Crown races as well. But there are several horses scheduled for Saturday’s race with the talent to provide an upset. It’s just a matter of finding the ones who have the stuff to step up and do it.
In the following article, we’ll provide you with an in-depth 2020 Belmont Stakes betting preview. We’ll go through each of the eight horses in the field and tell you about their strengths and weaknesses. And, of course, we’ll close it out by picking who we think will come out on top of this rugged field.
2020 Belmont Stakes Details
Where: Belmont Park in Elmont, New York
When: Saturday, June 20, 2020, post time 5:42 PM Eastern Time
Who: Three-year-old horses
Distance: 1 1/8 miles
Purse: $1 million
#1 Tap It To Win (John Velazquez, Mark Casse) 6-1
Trainer Casse managed to nab last year’s Belmont with Sir Winston and is on a two-race Triple Crown winning streak overall, so another Belmont victory would be quite a feat. This is your probable pacesetter in the race, assuming Velazquez doesn’t get buried on the rail with him early. In his last start, Tap It To Win went gate to wire in a decisive allowance score.
That race was just two weeks ago, which might not be ideal considering the kind of rugged battle he’ll be facing on Saturday. He’ll have to have every ounce of energy to hang tough, especially if he does try to leave. And there are question marks about the distance, as he has never gone further than 1 1/16 miles.
Still those questions aren’t as severe as they would have been at the distances normally associated with a Triple Crown race. There isn’t a lot of other front-end speed in this race, which might give Velazquez the chance to dictate matters. And with standout speed figures in his last two, Tap It To Win might be one of the few who could hang with Tiz The Law late.
#2 Sole Volante (Patrick Biancone, Luca Panici) 9-2
The oddsmakers made him the second choice behind Tiz The Law, which is largely based on the belief that he could fit the distance perfectly. At a mile and 1 1/16 miles, Sole Volante has been closing hard at the end, usually in plenty of time, as evidenced by his four wins in six career races. At the longer distance, he should be hitting his peak at the right time.
On top of that, the consistency is quite impressive. Sole Volante has hit the board in every one of his six career races. And his speed figures have stayed in triple-digit range in every one of his races as a three-year-old.
He has only won as high as Grade 3, so this is a bit of a climb for him. And he is very reliant on a hot pace, which isn’t guaranteed from this field. Still, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where he isn’t looming late, most likely with Biancone trying to latch on to the back of Tiz The Law for drafting purposes.
#3 Max Player (Joel Rosario, Linda Rice) 15-1
Horses coming off layoffs of more than four months just don’t usually win Triple Crown races. That’s the predicament facing this colt with wins in his last two starts. Max Player has enjoyed solid workouts in every month since his last race in February, but that isn’t a substitute for race experience.
If you want to try and overlook that, there is definitely a contender here. In his only start this year, which was his first outside of Pennsylvania, Max Player took a Grade 3 field at Aqueduct to the cleaners with a convincing come-from-behind victory. And, by the way, that win took place at 1 1/8 miles, which is how far they’ll be going in the 2020 Belmont Stakes.
Rice is a top conditioner and she could certainly have Max Player poised off the layoff. But there are just too many other horses coming in hot and with a recent race under their belts. Watch Max Player down the road, but he looks like an afterthought here.
#4 Modernist (Junior Alvarado, Bill Mott) 15-1
An interesting choice for the long shot players, for sure. First of all, Modernist has early speed, which is rare in this field. On top of that, he comes from the barn of one of the top trainers around, one who is known for pulling off a surprise or two (see the 2019 Kentucky Derby.)
His last start in March was a third-place finish in Louisiana, which might not seem like much. But he had to overcome an awful outside post in a field of 14. The race before, he beat an 11-horse field in a Grade 2 event, staying right on top of the leader before out-striding him late.
Modernist and Tap It To Win figure to be the ones out looking for the lead, and neither can afford an out-and-out speed duel. Normally we would throw out a horse reliant on speed in the Belmont Stakes. But at 1 1/8-miles and around one turn, you have to include them in your calculations once again, which means Modernist, who churned out a stellar workout at Belmont on Sunday, deserves a look.
Coming into the 2020 Belmont Stakes on three straight losses probably isn’t the best path to victory. Granted, two of those losses came in graded stakes races, and one was to the unbeaten, but now injured, Nadal. But there was also a second in an allowance/optional claimer thrown in there as well.
Farmington Road is an absolute closer, which means you’ll see him treading nonchalantly at the back of the pack for most of the race. He needs a series of lead changes and tiring horses for the race to turn his way. With only ten horses in the field and a lack of early speed, that isn’t likely to occur.
Pletcher deserves the benefit of the doubt, of course, but he’s much better represented in this race by Dr Post. At best, you could see this horse flying up late for fourth or third if all things break right. But it’s more likely he ends up at the middle of the pack tiring only the utter also-rans.
#6 Fore Left (Jose Ortiz, Doug O’Neill) 30-1
His handlers were originally thought to be pointing him toward the Grade 1 Woody Stephens Stakes which is also coming up this weekend at Belmont. But they flipped the script late in an effort to be a massive upsetter in here. Fore Left has definitely taken an unconventional path to the Belmont.
He raced often as a two-year-old, with his biggest success coming in a June 2019 stakes sprint victory at Belmont. In eight starts as a freshman he was all over the map, with three wins but also three starts worse than fifth. As for this year, he only raced once: a Grade 3 win at a mile in Dubai in February.
We talked earlier about Max Player and his long layoff. In Fore Left, you have a horse who is probably weaker than Max Player and will be just as rusty. He’ll try to set the pace but most likely won’t reach the front and then will fade through the pack.
#7 Jungle Runner (Reylu Gutierrez, Steven Asmussen) 50-1
Calumet Farm and Asmussen are as respected as they come, and Gutierrez is an up-and-comer in the sport making one of his biggest appearances to date. But other than that, it’s hard to see any reason why someone would be taking Jungle Runner. The past performances just don’t offer a lot of hope.
His two career victories came in back-to-back fashion at lightly-regarded Remington Park as a two-year-old. In a four-race stretch dating back to that last victory, Jungle Runner has done no better than fourth and averaged finishes of 18 ½ lengths behind the winners. And he’ll be brand new to the Belmont track to add to his issues.
At the very least, Jungle Runner earned some Grade 1 experience by appearing in the Arkansas Derby in his last race. But he finished eighth about a football field from the front-runners. He has the longest odds for a legitimate reason.
#8 Tiz The Law (Manny Franco, Barclay Tagg) 6-5
While the rest of the top three-year-olds in the class of 2020 seem to have all undergone some sort of misfortune, Tiz The Law has just kept his head down and taken care of business. Two victories in two graded stakes this year with a combined margin of 7 ¼ lengths speaks to that. And yet the question remains whether or not he’s so good that he’s worth taking at odds that are likely to be miniscule.
On the one hand, he certainly has the best overall record, along with a stellar pedigree and top connections. Even though he hasn’t raced at this distance yet, he’s been finishing out strong at the lesser distances, which suggests this should be no sweat. And his stalking running style is the least likely to be affected by the style of the race.
But it’s been almost three months since he last started. And his workouts haven’t really been anything special, although that is likely dictated in part by Tagg’s strategy. Tiz The Law is the most likely horse to win the 2020 Belmont Stakes, but that doesn’t mean you should be betting on him.
#9 Dr Post (Irad Ortiz Jr., Todd Pletcher) 5-1
Like Tiz The Law, Dr Post figures to be one of the horses in the second grouping behind potential pacesetters like Modernist and Tapit To Win. But this colt’s record doesn’t have anywhere near the impressive wins that Tiz The Law possesses. It does, however, contain some promise, the kind that, combined with a little improvement, could mean big things.
The big concern for Dr Post is that he hasn’t yet faced anything like this caliber of competition. His last victory was his most impressive, but it came in ungraded stakes action in Florida. There is no indication that he’ll be ready to make this big a leap.
Yet those looking for a bright side will see a horse who overcame a bump to grind out a win in his first race at longer than a mile. The timing of this race also puts him in range for what could be a peak performance. Add in the Pletcher factor and you’ve got one of the best mid-priced options on the board.
#10 Pneumatic (Ricardo Santana Jr., Steven Asmussen) 8-1
Unraced as a two-year-old, this colt came out and picked up wins in his first career starts at age three. In his third race, he battled with vigor in the Grade 3 Matt Winn at Churchill Downs, ending third behind two top competitors in Maxfield and NY Traffic. If he can continue on the upswing in this, his fourth career start, he could be in the mix.
Consistency is in his favor. Although his speed figures haven’t quite ascended to the heights of some of the others, they have been solid every time out. It will be interesting to see how Santana chooses to position him.
With the #10 post, it’s unlikely that he’ll try to fly him to the lead, even though that’s how he raced his last time out. This will also be a longer distance than Pneumatic has ever faced to this point. That, combined with the brutal post position, makes him an unlikely choice in this one.
2020 Belmont Stakes Picks
Tiz The Law, all things being equal, would make for an obvious pick for the 2020 Belmont Stakes. But this isn’t a Night at the Races where every number on the board gets the same attention. It wouldn’t be surprising to see odds for Tiz The Law to win drop somewhere in the neighborhood of 3-5 or 4-5.
For odds like that, you should believe Tiz The Law is a super-horse, which is probably a bit ambitious. Instead, you should try to find one of the other horses on the board with the potential to knock him off and do so at a value. Out of that group, Tap It To Win, going on muscle memory from his performance a few weeks bet, feels like the wisest play.
From there, you should probably include Tiz The Law in your exotics, probably in the second spot. Modernist looks like a good show bet at a nice price, while Sole Volante should be late-running for fourth. When you make your wager at horse racing betting sites offering Belmont Stakes odds, go for a 1-8-4-2 superfecta if you want a big payoff on a single ticket for the 2020 Belmont Stakes.
Jim Beviglia joined Gamblingsites.org as a staff writer in 2018, parlaying his years of freelance writing into contributions on a number of different topics. He handles the sport of horse racing for GamblingSites.org and the intersection between the worlds of cryptocurrency and online gambling in a weekly blog.
For his full-time job, Jim handles the television and track announcing duties at a h ...
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