The 2020 sporting calendar has been thrown for a loop and that includes horse racing. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Triple Crown, which would have been through the first two races by now, has been completely turned around. The Kentucky Derby has been moved to September 5th while the Preakness has been announced for October 3rd. For the first time ever, the Belmont Stakes – normally the final race of the Triple Crown will now actually be the first.
Belmont Stakes To Run On June 20th
With the 2020 horse racing calendar all out of what, the Belmont Stakes was put in a tough spot. With the Run for the Roses in September and the Preakness in October, it was starting to look like it might be tough to fit the Belmont Stakes into the 2020 calendar year. Originally, they had considered running it in late October but the challenge is that the Breeders’ Cup World Thoroughbred Championships would not be long after, which would put a lot of pressure on the horses who want to compete. Also, the Belmont Stakes would then be competing with the college football, NFL, basketball and hockey seasons.
Instead, the Belmont Stakes will now be run on June 20th. That marks the first time ever that the Belmont Stakes as the first race in the Triple Crown. We have seen some jumbled Triple Crown calendars in the past but never with the Belmont Stakes first. The Preakness Stakes was the first of the three from 1923 to 1932 but Belmont Stakes was still the last race in each of those years.
There was some concern about how much interest the Belmont Stakes would generate as it would be mostly out on its own on an island in early June. However, taking a look at recent numbers from the tiny Fonner Park in Nebraska, which is setting records for betting handle, it appears that gamblers have an appetite for it.
Belmont Stakes Will Be Shortened
Usually, the Belmont Stakes is known as the Test of the Champion because it’s the longest of the three Triple Crown races. The Kentucky Derby is typically one and one-quarter miles long, the Preakness is the shortest of the three at one and three-sixteenth miles and the Belmont Stakes is the longest at one and one-half miles. While some horses are able to breeze through the Run for the Roses and the Run for the Black-Eyed Susans, the Belmont Stakes is a test of durability that not many horses can handle. Since 1990, there have been nine horses that have won the first two legs of the Triple Crown and failed at the Belmont.
However, with the change in order, the Belmont Stakes has decided to shorten the 2020 running. It will now be run at a mile and an eighth. That’s not the only major change here as the purse will drop too. Since no spectators will be allowed in, the purse will drop from $1.5 million to $1 million.
Tiz The Law Is The Early Favorite
Taking a look at the latest Belmont Stakes betting odds at Heritage Sports, Tiz The Law is currently the favorite at 2/1. He’s closely followed by Charlatan, who is at 5/2 and Nadal, who is at 7/2, and then all other horses are at 14/1 or longer.
Tiz The Law has won four of his first five career starts with his only shortcoming being a third-place result. He comes into the Belmont Stakes on a two-race winning streak with wins at the Holy Bull Stakes (G3) and the Florida Derby (G1).
Charlatan is trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, so he’s obviously going to get a lot of attention. He’s won all three of his starts, including in the first division of the Arkansas Derby (G1) in his most recent outing in early May.
Meanwhile, Nadal is also trained by Baffert and has also shown well in his young career. The three-year-old colt has won all four of his starts, including the Division 2 of the Arkansas Derby (G1) as well as the Rebel Stakes (G2) and the San Vicente Stakes (G2).
Some of the other contenders in the field include Honor A.P, Dr. Post, Sole Volante, Wells Bayou and Basin.