- The 2020 Triple Crown begins Saturday with the Belmont Stakes
- This is not your normal Belmont. The date, distance, and sequence in the Triple Crown has been shifted
- Tiz The Law is a sizable favorite, but does he present the best betting value?
On Saturday the Belmont Stakes will be run with some of the best three-year-olds in the country contesting an event that does not really resemble any previous version of the race.
Since it began in 1867 in the huge majority of cases, and all in the last half-century, the Belmont has been known as The Test of the Champion. It has been the third race in the Triple Crown, run on the second Saturday in June following early May’s Kentucky Derby and mid-May’s Preakness Stakes. At a mile-and-a-half, it is the longest Triple Crown race. But, not this year.
Because of COVID-19, the Belmont will be run two-and-a-half months before September’s Kentucky Derby, at the truncated distance of a-mile-and-an-eighth, which is a one-turn race at Belmont Park, not two, and without fans.
Regardless, a good field is assembled, and a large national television audience is expected to watch on NBC with post time scheduled for 5:42 pm Eastern Time. Several recent injuries have changed the 2020 Belmont Stakes odds, but that does not mean we can’t find value.
Let’s look at the latest odds, handicap the field, and make a pick.
2020 Belmont Stakes Odds
|Tiz The Law||-137|
|Tap It To Win||+500|
Odds taken June 15
Favorites: Tiz The Law
It is not surprising Tiz The Law is the favorite at the Belmont Stakes. He has won four of his five career races and has looked strong going two for two this year. His average odds have shortened since the race was announced from +267 to +175 and now -142.
The shocker is his competition. Within the last couple of weeks his primary challengers have disappeared. Charlatan, Nadal, and Maxfield have gotten hurt, and Authentic and Honor A.P. elected to run in the Santa Anita Derby instead. After Tiz The Law won the Florida Derby, it seemed like he was primed for a big summer.
This is comfortable territory for the New York-bred trained by Barclay Tagg, who combined with the same ownership group, Sackatoga Stable, to win the Kentucky Derby and Preakness with Funny Cide almost 20 years ago. With the competition dwindling, nothing short of a victory will be satisfying.
Top Contender: Dr Post
It is almost impossible to believe Dr Post could have the stamina to run a-mile-and-a-half at this point in his career, but the lightly raced colt trained by Todd Pletcher from St. Elias Stable, Florida Panther’s owner Vinnie Viola’s well-backed farm, may thrive with just one turn. He certainly was strong down the stretch last time out, in just his third career race. +1200 odds last month, he’s now down to +683 odds on average.
Pletcher has won the Belmont three times and while Dr Post is stepping up his level of competition, he might just be primed for a big effort.
Another horse likely not ready to run a-mile-and-a-half is Pneumatic. A winner of two of three lifetime starts, he finished third in a strong field last time out at Churchill Downs.
Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen has won nearly 9,000 career races, second all-time, and captured the Belmont with Creator in 2016. Like Dr Post, Pneumatic must take a forward step to win, but he has plenty of talent and should continue to improve. Pneumatic was not even listed in the odds last month, but has now shown up on the odds board at 20-1.
The Bet: Tiz The Law
If feels like a cop out to take the favorite, but what should have been a tough competitive race fell apart with all the departures. The secondary choices are horses with potential, but they have not proven anything close to what Tiz The Law has. The price suggests just under a 58% chance of winning and based on his resume, that is probably light. If Tiz The Law repeats either of his last two races, unless someone improves dramatically, he should win.