Savvy bettors know that before the Belmont Stakes every year the media spends a lot of time talking about the trainers in the race – especially if there is no potential Triple Crown on the line. They fixate on the big name guys, and talk about the stories they think are important – who has the hottest stables and how they have done in the race before, for example. The problem, of course, is that while those stories can be interesting they often don’t have a lot to do with the likely outcome of this race. If you want to be successful betting on the Belmont you need to look below the surface with trainers to find the stories that actually matter and can provide you an edge. Here are six more important questions for horse race bettors to ask about the trainers in the Belmont Stakes to get a more accurate picture of the race:
Can they train for stamina? – The Belmont is the longest race of their career for most of the horses in it, and the longest race most of the trainers will run a horse in all year. The biggest mistake I see people making when talking about trainers is that they don’t consider the importance of stamina. It’s a very different task to train a sprinter than a marathoner, so it is totally irrelevant if a trainer has had a lot of success if that success has come over the shorter distances. As a horse bettor, before you get too excited about a trainer, then, make sure that the trainer has had some success at longer distances.
Are they showing improvement with the horse? – There is no trainer that can connect with every race horse. Horses have personalities and sometimes those personalities don’t mesh with the personalities of the trainer. A thoroughbred that is talented enough to run in a major race like the Belmont should be getting better every time they run. They are learning and maturing, and are beginning to realize their massive potential. If that’s not happening with the horse – he is treading water or even moving backwards – then horse and trainer may not be on the same page, and it doesn’t really matter what the trainer is capable of when he is at his best.
Has the horse been aimed at this spot? – Some horses wind up in the Belmont because they have been aimed there for months. They showed real stamina traits and some class, and this race became an obvious target. Other horses seem to have arrived at this race on a whim after a campaign that was not planned out to point to this spot. If a horse was not specifically pointed at this race then he may not be fully prepared and properly trained for it.
Are they big race trainers? – Some guys whine when the pressure is at the highest point, while others crumble under the pressure. Todd Pletcher, for example, is a totally dominant trainer most times, but he has badly underachieved in the Triple Crown. Big race trainers are much better at getting their horses ready and focused than other trainers, and would elevate the chances of their horse.
Does the rest suit them? – Some trainers are very strong off of short layoffs and busy schedules for their horses, while other trainers are much better with lots of rest and ample time for training. Horses come into the Belmont off of very different amounts of rest, so it is very important to make sure that the amount of rest a horse has suits the trainer. The demands of the Triple Crown season often lead to situations in which the rest isn’t ideal.
Can they perform at Belmont? – Experienced Triple Crown handicappers understand that the track at Belmont is very unique. Most tracks are a mile long, but Belmont is a monstrous mile and a half. That means that the corners are much wider than normal, and the stretches are longer. Horses that excel at this track are typically horses that are physically suited to the track, and which have been trained with the uniqueness of the track in mind. If a trainer has consistently done well at the track then they could have an edge over the average trainer in the race. On the other hand, a trainer that has not run at the track before would be at a disadvantage compared to others.