Why the Belmont Stakes is the Best Triple Crown Race to Bet

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D.S. Williamson

May 28th, 2018

For years, the Kentucky Derby was the best Triple Crown race to bet. In some ways, the Derby is still the best race to bet. The Derby superfecta paid huge. However, the exacta and trifecta weren't nearly as large as they could have been. Not only that, but if you had Justify to win the Derby on May 5, you would have again scored on the favorite to win the Kentucky Derby.

A win is always a good win. It's definitely better than losing. But, the Derby has become a chalk win bettor's race. That's not true with the Belmont Stakes. Check out reasons why the Belmont, at least for straight betting horseplayers, has become the best Triple Crown race on which to wager.

Why the Belmont Stakes is the Best Triple Crown Race to Bet

The Favorite Doesn't Have the Upper Hand in the Belmont

In the Kentucky Derby, the favorite has the upper hand. The reason is because the favorite has been trained to peak on Derby Day. Most horses that enter the Derby peak on Derby Day.

Justify did this year. Always Dreaming did last year. Why? It's because 3-year-old owners and trainers point to the Derby. They don't point to the Belmont Stakes. If the Derby winner, like Justify this year, has also won the Preakness Stakes, that horse is the Belmont favorite no matter who enters.

The favorite, though, has often run in two other races, the Derby and Preakness, before the Belmont Stakes. Add in the fact that the Belmont is at 1 1/2 miles, a distance foreign to all entrants, means that favorites don't have the upper hand in the Third Jewel of the Triple Crown.

Big Sandy is the Most Unique Racecourse in the U.S.

Not only is the Belmont Stakes run at 1 1/2 miles, it's run at a 1 1/2 mile circumference racecourse. Horses that run in the Belmont Stakes run around 2 sweeping turns. Belmont's sweeping turns alone make it the most unique racetrack in the United States.

Belmont is called Big Sandy because of how large it is and because the dirt surface is a deep sand. Horses that aren't used to racing over Big Sandy's dirt often have trouble. That makes the Belmont Stakes more of a handicapper's race than the Derby and Preakness.

Trainers Point to the Belmont Instead of the Preakness

Although almost all trainers point to the Kentucky Derby with their very best 3-year-olds, some trainers point to the Belmont Stakes. The big thing to do the past few years is to skip the Preakness and run in the Belmont.

Last year, Todd Pletcher skipped the Preakness with Belmont winner Tapwrit. The year before, Steve Asmussen skipped the Preakness and won the Belmont with Creator. Tonalist didn't run in the Preakness Stakes in 2014. In 2013, Palace Malice skipped the Preakness. Both those horses won the Belmont. Because most trainers are skipping the Preakness, they bring fresh horses into the Belmont battle. If a Triple Crown is on the line, like this year, the Derby favorite becomes a huge chalk favorite.

Price horses won the Belmont Stakes in 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2017. The only time the favorite won the Belmont in the past 5 years was in 2015. That was American Pharoah. He broke a 37 year Triple Crown curse.

Unless Justify is on the level of American Pharoah, it might be worth it to play against him to win the Belmont Stakes. There are reasons the Belmont is the hardest of the Triple Crown races to win. Going against the chalk has paid plenty of dividends in recent runnings of the Test of Champions.