Betting on the Belmont Stakes when there is a potential Triple Crown winner is different in many ways than betting when there isn’t one. The race is frankly more important when history is on the line, and there’s more magic and excitement surrounding it. Bettors need to be aware of those differences and the impact they can have on how you bet the race. Here are three big differences to keep in mind when betting the final leg of the Triple Crown:
Betting volume much higher – There are really two types of Belmonts – those that no one cares about and those that everyone cares about. When there is no Triple Crown on the line then hardcore race fans and lovers of the track will pay attention, but the public will have relatively low interest in the race. This means that public betting volume is reasonably low. When the triple Crown is on the line, though – especially when the story of the horse is compelling and his chances seem good – then even the most casual of horse racing fans will tune in. The TV ratings and the on-track attendance will both be drastically higher, and a good portion of the people watching will make a bet that they wouldn’t otherwise cast. When betting volume increases dramatically like this you need to be particularly aware of what the public is likely to think in the race – especially because the pari mutuel system doesn’t allow you to lock in a price when you make a bet. As a general rule the public is going to bet aggressively on the favorite, driving the odds way down on that horse. They are also only likely to bet on the most obvious of exotic bets because win betting is what they understand most. That means that bettors need to understand that the potential win payoff on the favorite will be much lower in this leg of the Triple Crown than it might otherwise be, and that you will have to look harder than ever for value if you like that favorite. On the plus side, the more complex exotics won’t be as heavily bet so value could be easier to find, and the odds on the other horses in the field will likely be inflated. In other words, the Belmont can be a great race to like someone other than the favorite when the Triple Crown is on the line.
Media coverage much more intense – The media doesn’t care about the Belmont when there isn’t a chance at a Triple Crown in the same way that the public doesn’t care. The less public coverage there is the lower the chances that casual fans will become interested enough to make a bet, and the less public money there is on a race. When media attention is at its most intense there are a lot of people covering the race that don’t typically cover the sport. That means that there are a lot of storylines and angles that get over-reported because they sound good and are interesting. When they get too much coverage they are also likely to get too much betting attention, and that can lead to overbetting on some horses, and not enough attention being paid to others. By paying close attention to what the media is focusing on, smart handicappers can often spot where value can be found and where it no longer exists.
Favorite’s stamina a key issue – Virtually every year there are horses in the Belmont that have run in the Derby and the Preakness. Those horses have faced the toughest racing test any horse in North America will ever be asked to face, so they are going to be tired. The horse that has won both of these races has run at top speed in both races, and has been in top form for all of that time. That means that they have worked harder than any other horse in the field, and their stamina will be tested more than any other horse. That’s a big issue in the Belmont because the mile and a half distance calls so intensely on the stamina of the horses. The owner and trainer of the horse doesn’t have a choice about running the horse unless he really isn’t sound, so you can never be sure if he is ideally ready for the race. That means that horse handicappers have to pay particularly close attention to how they train and prepare for the race, how they look physically when you see them before the race, and how well they might handle the pressure of the situation.