Two high-level betting worlds converge Saturday at Belmont Park.
And both will create a wagering feast for New Jersey online horse betting customers.
The first is the time-honored Belmont Stakes, a $1.5 million showcase unfurling its 153rd running. Garden State gamblers can access the action via 4 NJBETS, powered by TVG.
Post time for the 1 1–2-mile event, featuring Essential Quality, Hot Rod Charlie, and Rombauer as early favorites, is 6:48 p.m. ET. The eyes of the horse-racing world settle on the Belmont, which returns to its classic distance after COVID-19 protocols forced the race to be run at 1 1-8 miles last year.
The return of the distance accompanies the return of about 11,000 live fans to create a live-race feel.
There’s no Triple Crown sweep possibility because Medina Spirt won the May 1 Kentucky Derby and Rombauer seized the Preakness on May 15. The split normally reduces betting interest on the Belmont. The status of Medina Spirit’s win remains up in the air as a result of a second positive drug test.
So, the track created Act Two.
Belmont Stakes undercard
Before the Belmont Stakes occurs, the track unveils a relatively new strategy. It’s a blockbuster undercard totaling nearly $4.5 million. It occurs throughout the day after a 1 p.m. first post, launching a betting festival of elite racing.
The supporting cast includes:
- $1 million Metropolitan
- $750,000 Manhattan Stakes
- 500,000 Acorn, Ogden Phillips, and Just a Game races
- $400,000 Woody Stephens, Jaipur Stakes, and Brooklyn Stakes races.
Eight prolific events and nearly $4.5 million on the undercard of a $1.5 million showcase. And that’s savvy planning.
This is a mini–Breeders Cup. Any one of these events would be a stellar headliner. Together, they form a premier card.
How strong are these undercard races? Swiss Skydiver, who won the 2020 Preakness, will run in the Ogden Phipps.
The undercard forges a large handle by cornering the betting market all day. It’s also a hedge against no Triple Crown opportunity.
The Belmont Stakes draw
Here is how the contestants line up from Tuesday’s draw. With pari-mutuel wagering, odds won’t be final until post time.
|2||Essential Quality||Luis Saez||2-1|
|4||Hot Rod Charlie||Flavien Prat||7-2|
|5||France Go De Ina||Ricardo Santana Jr||30-1|
|6||Known Agenda||Irad Ortiz Jr||6-1|
|7||Rock Your World||Joel Rosario||9-2|
Analyzing the Belmont Stakes field
Starting with ability, none of these horses can dominate their peers. It’s an average year for the 3-year-old crop. That’s why Essential Quality buried Rombauer in the Blue Grass Stakes, flopped in the Kentucky Derby, and skipped the Preakness Stakes that Rombauer won.
Essential Quality and Hot Rod Charlie both had chances to run down Medina Spirit and Mandaloun in the Kentucky Derby homestretch. They ran gamely, but could not do it.
These factors explain why there is no odds-on favorite for the Belmont.
Known Agenda and Rock Your World had horrific Kentucky Derby trips, finished out of the money, and sat out the Preakness. They should obtain better breaks here and run their best races, maybe at a price.
Bourbonic, France Go De Ina, and Overtook are a notch below the favorites.
Rebel’s Romance was expected to run here, but a hind leg infection caused him to be withdrawn.
More about the distance
The shorter field and the long distance, 1 1-2 miles, will help horses enjoy more of a ground-saving trip in the Belmont.
Essential Quality was wide on both turns in the Kentucky Derby and spent for the home stretch. He ran evenly late when he looked ready to overtake the leaders.
The initial betting-odds chalk has improvement eligibility with a better trip.
Known Agenda and Rock Your World will improve in the smaller field if they avoid being stuck behind an early wall of horses. They will try to break more sharpy here.
Remember that nobody in this field has gone 1 1-2 miles. It is possible the field will unfurl a relaxed gallop until the final turn, each jockey keeping something in the tank for his horse to complete this long distance.
Jockey changes for Belmont Stakes
John Velazquez, who guides Rombauer, is on a Triple Crown hot streak. He won the 2020 Kentucky Derby aboard Authentic and the 2021 Derby with Medina Spirit.
In the Derby, he held off Hot Rod Charlie, ridden by Flavien Prat.
When Hot Rod Charlie skipped the Preakness, Prat guided Rombauer to victory.
When Hot Rod Charlie returns to the Belmont, Prat goes off the Preakness winner to take him. With Medina Spirit not running here, “Johnny V” took the mount for Rombauer.
Looking closer at the pace
Hot Rod Charlie, Essential Quality, and Rock Your Word like to be near the lead. Known Agenda and Rombauer are good stalk-to-closing types.
France Go De Ina flamed out after one speed burst and was seventh in the Preakness. Overtook runs late and was third in a much-lower Peter Pan Stakes, but has a race over the track. Bourbonic came from nowhere, practically New Jersey, to win the Wood Memorial at a record 72-1. He was last entering the homestretch and outran the whole field.
But the running style did not help him crack the Top 10 at the Kentucky Derby.
Belmont Stakes wagering options
Make the win bet the highest priority if you get a good price, perhaps 5-2 or higher, for your favorite horse.
Trifecta boxes will be small in this field if all the favorites hit the top three.
And here’s a low budget stab: Take two horses to finish in the first two spots, in either order, and two others to finish third and fourth, in a $1 superfecta. Example: A $1 superfecta that reads 2-3 with 2-3 with 6-7 with 6-7 costs $4.
The 2 and 3 can be the top two finishers in any order. The 6 and 7 must run third and fourth, in any order.
Bettors can also box those same four horses, but that costs $24.