The Last Shall Be First: Belmont Betting In New Jersey Looks A Bit Different This Year

In what appears fitting for a sporting world turned on its head by the coronavirus, New Jersey sports betting and horse betting fans will see a far different Belmont Stakes on Saturday.

The Belmont is normally the final jewel of racing’s Triple Crown. It follows the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.

This year, the Belmont will precede them, as the Derby has been moved back to Sept. 5 and the Preakness to Oct. 3.

The Belmont, with an estimated 5:42 p.m. post time Saturday, is available to New Jersey gamblers via 4NJBETS, powered by TVG.

So is a stakes-filled, loaded Belmont card, along with racing from the majority of major tracks.

The first post is 1:15 p.m.

Belmont betting: It’s not what it once was

The Belmont Stakes looks far different in 2020.

It is two weeks later than normal and has been moved to 1 1/8 miles versus the usual 1 ½, but at least tradition is maintained.

The event, first run in 1867, is the oldest of the Triple Crown events, and one of the oldest stakes races in North America.

Bettors are learning to approach the sports world that was postponed by the COVID-19 pandemic as they would an outdoor picnic affected by rain.

Move the picnic inside and make do.

And what a picnic this is. The big card includes:

  • $1 million Belmont Stakes, 1 1/8 miles
  • $ 300,000 Acorn Stakes, 1 mile
  • $250,000 Woody Stephens, 7 furlongs
  • $250,000 Jaipur, 6 furlongs
  • $150,000 Wonder Again, 1 mile
  • $150,000 Pennine Ridge, 1 mile

So as you log into your NJ online gambling site, here’s a Belmont betting preview of the main event, the 152d Belmont Stakes.

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2020 Belmont Stakes odds

Post PositionHorseJockeyCurrent Odds
1Tap It to WinJohn Velazquez6-1
2Sole VolanteLuca Panici9-2
3Max PlayerJoel Rosario15-1
4ModernistJunior Alvarado15-1
5Farmington RoadJavier Castellano15-1
6Fore LeftJose Ortiz30-1
7Jungle RunnerReylu Gutierrez50-1
8Tiz the LawManny Franco6-5
9Dr. PostIrad Ortiz Jr.5-1
10PneumaticRicardo Santana Jr.8-1
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What’s different about the Belmont Stakes?

Belmont betting has a few things that changed this year. Chief among them is the distance.

This was the true test of champions at 1 ½ miles, the longest of the Triple Crown races. Now it’s the shortest, at 1 1/8 miles.

Horses presumably can leave this race and compete in another one sooner than normal because of the shortened distance. Furthermore, it will be only one turn, rather than two and that could affect positioning.

The other thing that’s different? The Belmont won’t feature the nation’s two hottest horses, Charlatan and Nadal.

They won separate divisions of the Arkansas Derby and looked to be the top of the class in the 3-year-old crop this year. Sadly, they both sustained injuries. Nadal retired and Charlatan probably won’t run until the Breeders Cup in November.

There will be no spectators this year. That’s a drastic change from the attendance of 56,217 watching Sir Winston prevail last year.

The Belmont drew more than 90,000 when American Pharoah captured the Belmont to win the Triple Crown in 2015. The national TV audience was estimated at 22 million.

The roar of the crowd will come from the bettors now, wherever they have congregated.

Unlike other years, the competitors have not proven themselves in a Triple Crown event. The Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes weed out the Belmont pretenders, but it’s hard to classify any horse as being undeserving to run here.

These are lightly-raced 3-year-olds, improving over time.

Who is the favorite to win the Belmont?

One thing that hasn’t changed is the hype leading up to the race.

Another Florida Derby winner is here. That means the favorite will be Tiz the Law, who captured the race in convincing style this year.

The Florida Derby has fashioned the best graduates of Prep races for the Kentucky Derby in recent years. That includes:

  • Nyquist in 2016
  • Always Dreaming in 2017
  • Maximum Security in 2019

All three won the Florida Derby and then the Kentucky Derby, although Maximum Security suffered a controversial disqualification for alleged interference after crossing the line first last year.

This year, Tiz the Law has looked the most impressive during his stretch runs in previous races. Can he repeat that?

Other best bets

A few other horses will get a look though.

Trainer Mark Casse won the Belmont Stakes last year with Sir Winston and will look go back-to-back, as Tap It to Win will take the step up in class.

The Tap It colt is 2-for-2 to start his sophomore campaign, coming off a seven-month layoff to win an allowance optional claimers on May 9 at Gulfstream Park. Casse brought him back on June 4 at Belmont Park, where he won by five lengths.

A big angle for Tap It to Win is having a victory at the Belmont. He likes the one-turn layout on this race and could come back to run a strong one.

Dr. Post overcame extreme traffic problems to gut out a victory at the Unbridled Stakes at Gulfstream Park in Florida.

He had nowhere to run most of the race but was forced through a narrow opening in the homestretch. He then showed heart in getting to the wire.

An easier trip would be worth 3/4 lengths to Dr. Post and would improve his chances significantly.

Pneumatic had his chances at the Grade II Matt Winn, but was outrun handily and finished third.

Max Player obtained a victory in the Withers Stakes at Aqueduct at this exact distance 1 1/8 miles.

Sole Volante won a June 10 allowance race at Gulfstream Park with a furious rally from last to first.

The question is whether he can afford to wait in the back of the pack as he did that day and if he can come back 10 days after a win.

Nonetheless, he beat the same horses Tiz the Law did earlier.

Longshots and more

Farmington Road was all-out to win a Maiden Special Weights race at Tampa Bay Downs earlier in the year. He made a good run from the back in the Arkansas Derby and was in a position to perhaps finish second, but he flattened out. Can he improve?

Jungle Runner hasn’t hit the board (been first, second or third) in four outings, including eighth-place finishes in the Smarty Jones Stakes and one of the divisions of the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby.

Modernist showed grit in winning the Grade II Risen Star Stakes in February and raced with heart at the higher-classed Louisiana Derby. But he flattened out in the stretch, finishing third.

He is considered on the bubble to start and may be over his head.

Belmont betting overview

New York tracks have some of the lowest takeout percentages, which gives bettors a higher chance to profit.

It is 16% for win, place, and show. The win bet means your horse must finish first. Place means second or higher. Show is third place or higher.

Takeout is 18.5% for exactas (picking the top two horses in exact order) and the Daily Double (predicting the first two race winners)

It is 15% for the difficult, yet profitable Pick 5. You have to select the winners of five straight races, usually the first five on the card.

The industry would fare much better with gamblers in New Jersey and elsewhere if it maintained all of its percentages in these areas.

But the takeout is 24% for trifectas (picking the first three horses in exact order) and the superfectas (top four horses in order). At these levels, bettors believe they are not getting a good return.

Not surprisingly, the biggest volume has occurred in the areas of lower takeout.

About the Author

Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo, a multiple national award-winning boxing commentator and writer, authors NFL betting columns for the Press of Atlantic City and IGaming Player, among others.