Betting the Belmont Stakes

The Belmont Stakes is a race often won by a longshot. None of the horses in the race have ever gone over 1 1/2 miles before, and most never will again. Betting on the Belmont Stakes needs to be done with attention to pedigree and how a horse has handled the 1 1/4 mile distance of the Kentucky Derby if they took that route to the race.

Sarava is the biggest longshot winner in Belmont Stakes history, scoring at 70-1 in 2002. Sherluck was 65-1 in 1961, and Temperence Hill was 53-1 in 1980. Da’ Tara was 38-1 when upsetting Big Brown in his 2008 Triple Crown bid; Birdstone was 36-1 in 2004 over Smarty Jones. More recently there have been a string of longshots, with Lemon Drop Kid winning at 29-1 in 1999, Ruler on Ice 24-1 in 2011, Commendable 18-1 in 2000, and Creator 15-1 in 2016.

Favorites are hard to come by; even Tonalist in 2014 was 9-1 coming off a win in Belmont Park’s biggest Belmont Stakes prep race, the Peter Pan Stakes.

He was facing Triple Crown hopeful California Chrome, who finished fourth. Tapwrit was 5-1 in a strange field in 2017, where the Kentucky Derby winner (Always Dreaming) and Preakness Stakes winner (Cloud Computing) both missed the race. Summer Bird was 11-1 in 2009 while Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird finished third as the favorite, and Drosselmeyer was 13-1 in 2010 after losing his Belmont Stakes prep race over the track in the Dwyer Stakes.

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Triple Crown Winners

There have been 13 Triple Crown winners to date: 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 Pharoah (2015), and Justify (2018). Trainer Bob Baffert won the last two Triple Crowns, and trainer James Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons accomplished the double in 1930 and 1935. Calumet Farm won it twice with Whirlaway and Citation; the farm is still in operation today.

The event was not even called the Triple Crown until Gallant Fox accomplished the feat in 1930. He went on to sire the next Triple Crown winner in Omaha, a feat that has not been duplicated since. Sir Barton was acknowledged as the first Triple Crown winner more than a decade after he had pulled off the feat. There was no Triple Crown winner between 1948 and 1973, with many racing authorities believing it was no longer a feat that could be accomplished. American Pharoah winning in 2015 was after 37 years, the longest drought in racing history. Justify won it just three years later.

No filly has won the Triple Crown or even gotten close. The two most recent female Kentucky Derby winners, Genuine Risk (1980) and Winning Colors (1988) failed to win the Preakness. Both Winning Colors and Genuine Risk ran in all three races but did not win the Belmont Stakes, either, although Genuine Risk finished second behind Temperence Hill. No gelding has won the Triple Crown either, with Funny Cide being closest in 2013.

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The narrowest Triple Crown loss came with Real Quiet in 1998. The colt won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes before losing the Belmont Stakes by a nose to Victory Galliop. He angled out in the lane, bumping Victory Gallop right before the wire, and the stewards noted that they would have had to make the difficult decision to disqualify Real Quiet even if he had won the race.

The Triple Crown is one of the most difficult feats in all of sports to win but continues to be the most sought after prize in horse racing.