Belmont 2014 Odds: 10 Betting Tips from Handicapping Expert
There is nothing more exciting in sports than a horse heading to the Belmont Stakes seeking to win the elusive Triple Crown. We have been here before, a dozen times since Affirmed won the last Triple Crown in 1978.
We are still waiting.
I have put together some basic betting advice, geared more toward the casual racing fan or new horseplayer who may be looking to place a few wagers on the Belmont Stakes as California Chrome looks to make history.
Here are 10 betting tips to keep in mind before heading to the racetrack (or your computer) to bet on the big day:
Get into the Betting Action
Sure, it is fun to head out to a Triple Crown event, get all dressed up, drink a fancy cocktail, and hobnob with the elite.
However, do you know what is a lot more fun? Leaving the racetrack, betting parlor or party with more money than you came with. Wagering on horse racing is completely legal, whether you do it at the track, at home on your computer or on your smartphone.
There are plenty of online racebooks looking for your action. Look for a reputable site, one that offers a generous sign-up bonus and rebates or some type of cash rewards.
While witnessing a Triple Crown is exciting, cashing a ticket on the race will add to the rush and might even pay for that fancy hat.
Study Betting Information
Unless you plan on just betting names and numbers, it is a good idea to take advantage of the wealth of betting information that is available.
Start with the good writers right here at Bleacher Report, and there is plenty of other great information, including replays of all of the major races available on You Tube. Equibase has a free app where horseplayers can access videos and results for free.
The New York Racing Association has a You Tube channel that features videos of all of the Belmont Stakes contenders working out in the mornings. There are replays, interviews and handicapping advice available on the America’s Best Racing You Tube channel as well.
Doing a little homework can lead to cashing a big ticket on Belmont Stakes Day.
Plan out Your Wagering Strategy in Advance
There are a dozen races in addition to the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, and enough wagering options to make even a degenerate gambler’s head spin.
The Belmont Stakes itself offers win, place, show, exacta, trifecta and superfecta wagering. There are rolling doubles, Pick 3, Pick 4 and Pick 5 bets as well.
A $500,000 Guaranteed Pick 5 begins on the opening race, a $1 Million Guaranteed Pick 6 begins in the sixth race and a $1.5 Million Guaranteed Pick 4 begins on race eight.
It is a good idea to plan ahead and decide what betting pools you are going to jump into. With a smaller bankroll, stick to traditional wagers and exactas. A larger bankroll will allow you to play the horizontal bets.
Check out Equine Stars All Day
While California Chrome is the marquee name on Belmont Stakes Day, there is plenty of other star power not to be missed. There are 13 races and 10 stakes on the richest day in Belmont Stakes Day history.
Last year’s Derby runner-up Golden Soul is a longshot in the Brooklyn Invitational, the third race on the card. The amazing Ben’s Cat is the 5-2 favorite in the Jaipur (G3). The King T. Leatherbury trainee has won 26 of his 39 career starts.
Social Inclusion, who was third in the Preakness, is the headliner in the Woody Stephens, the fifth race on the card. He faces a dozen foes in one of the best betting races on the card.
Last year’s Breeders’ Cup Distaff winner Beholder takes on last year’s Kentucky Oaks winner Princess of Sylmar and multiple Grade 1 winner Close Hatches in the Ogden Phipps. Last year’s Preakness winner Palace Malice takes to the track in the Met Mile.
Roll out the red carpet for the undercard, now for a few tips on the big race.
Historical Trends Can Separate Contenders from Pretenders
A good look at historical trends can often help us separate the contenders from the pretenders. For instance, did you know that since 2000, just two of the last 14 Belmont Stakes winners participated in the Preakness? Point Given (2001) and Afleet Alex (2005) were the two.
No Kentucky Derby winner has won the Belmont Stakes since Thunder Gulch in 1995. The only horse to land in the exacta was Smarty Jones, who finished second behind Birdstone in 2004.
Those two trends do not bode well for the favorite California Chrome, do they?
Let’s look for a positive. If we look at the history of the Belmont Stakes, the betting favorite has won at a 42 percent clip.
That should make “Chromies” feel better.
Don’t Overlook the New Shooters
Once we get to the Belmont Stakes, most of the major contenders are well-known. However, don’t overlook the new shooters to the party.
They come to New York fresh and are often late bloomers that step up and run big at generous odds. Since 2007, four Belmont Stakes winners were making their first appearance in a Triple Crown race: the filly Rags to Riches in 2007, Da’ Tara in 2008, Drosselmeyer in 2010 and Ruler on Ice in 2011.
While Rags to Riches came in off a win in the Kentucky Oaks and was a logical contender, the three others were all upset winners.
The new shooters this year are Matterhorn, Matuszak, Commissioner and Tonalist. All are listed at 8-1 or higher according to Odds Shark.
Tactical Speed Is an Asset
One myth about the Belmont Stakes is that since it is the longest of the three Triple Crown races, it must be won by horses that rally from the back of the pack.
It’s just not true.
While it is tough to take the field gate to wire (Since Swale in 1984, the only gate-to-wire Belmont winner has been Da’ Tara in 2008), most of the winners have shown good tactical speed.
The winners tend to be in the first flight, and when they head for home, the winner is usually on the lead. The reason the late closers are at a distinct disadvantage is because the early pace of the Belmont Stakes is usually much slower than the Derby and Preakness.
The contender with the perfect running style this year? Chalk players will be pleased with the answer.
Look for a Long-Winded Pedigree
By now, you have heard that California Chrome has a modest pedigree, by a sprint sire named Lucky Pulpit that stands for just $2,500 and out of a mare that ran for an $8,000 claiming tag.
To get 1 1/2 miles, it is preferable for the runner to have a long-winded pedigree. Several runners in the field do have more stamina-influenced genes.
One is Commissioner, who is by the sire A.P. Indy who won the 1992 Belmont Stakes, and the colt is out of a mare that was sired by another Belmont Stakes winner in Touch Gold.
Wicked Strong is out of the Derby and Preakness winner Charismatic, while Tonalist is out of a Pleasant Colony mare.
A good source to look up the pedigree of your Belmont Stakes pick is the Thoroughbred Pedigree Database.
Don’t Be Afraid to Play a Bomb
The Belmont Stakes has not been kind to betting favorites in recent years. The last two horses bidding for a Triple Crown were Big Brown in 2008 and Smarty Jones in 2004. Both were sent off at betting odds of 1-5 and both lost.
If we look at the last six runnings of the Belmont Stakes, the average winning payoff is $37. In the last two years the Triple Crown was at stake, Da ‘Tara paid $79.00 in 2008, while Birdstone derailed the Triple Crown bid in 2004 and paid $74.00.
If California Chrome can’t get the distance at betting odds of 3-5, according to the latest prices at Odds Shark, expect to see the tote board light up.
Get Refreshed with a Belmont Jewel
After a seven-hour day of playing the ponies, feel free to have a cocktail. While the Kentucky Derby has the mint julep and the Preakness drink of choice is the Black-Eyed Susan, there are several choices for the third jewel of the Triple Crown.
The Belmont Breeze is a traditional drink, but this year the official Belmont Jewel might quench your thirst better. The drink is made with 1 1/2 ounces of Knob Creek bourbon, two ounces of lemonade and one ounce of pomegranate juice.
However, this year there is a new player. Triple Crown Whiskey might be a more appropriate drink this year, and I have to think the connections of California Chrome may be cracking a bottle in the winner’s circle.