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What to expect from the 2022 Belmont Stakes: Your ultimate guide

The Belmont Stakes is the oldest meeting of the prestigious Triple Crown, which also comprises the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes.

By LLM Reporters  |  June 3, 2022
Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park
Image Credit: wingbeats551/Bigstock.com

Following two years of extremely limited attendance, one of the United States’ most coveted horse races returns to full capacity in June – the Belmont Stakes.

The Long Island venue usually welcomes in excess of 100,000 spectators for the culmination of the prestigious Triple Crown, but the 2020 event was run behind closed doors due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and last year’s meet saw only 11,000 visitors as limits to attendance were still in place. This year, though, things are back to normal.

Local businesses and bookmakers alike will be breathing a huge sigh of relief at this, with the event reportedly worth $10m to the Long Island economy, and a betting market of over $100m in the United States alone. You can check out these updated odds for the Belmont Stakes on TVG.com.

The Belmont Stakes is the oldest meeting of the prestigious Triple Crown, which also comprises the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes. It is entering its 154th meeting with a heritage tracing all the way back to 1867, and is run on a 12 furlong dirt track in Elmont, colloquially referred to as the “Big Sandy” due to its dusty surface, making it the longest and most demanding of the three prestigious Grade I thoroughbred races. It is also the site of Secretariat’s famous 31-length triumph in the early 70s, not only sealing his Triple Crown, but also setting the world record time for a dirt race, which stands to this day.

horse racing
Following two years of extremely limited attendance, one of the United States’ most coveted horse races returns to full capacity in June – the Belmont Stakes. Image credit: wingbeats551/Bigstock.com

Known as the ‘Test of Champions’ because of its longer race length and scheduling as the final of the Triple Crown races, the Belmont Stakes is one of the most coveted titles available to trainers, owners and jockeys alike, and to secure the Triple Crown of all three races – the Derby, Preakness, and Belmont – is the ultimate achievement in Stateside horse racing, but this will not be possible in 2022.

The Kentucky Derby was won, quite incredibly, by 80-1 long-shot Rich Strike, owned by Richard Dawson. The colt, trained by Eric Reed, became the second-biggest longshot to ever win the Kentucky Derby – having only been entered as an alternate to the race as a result of a late withdrawal – surging through the pack to win by three quarters of a length.

Even more astonishingly, though, Rich Strike was not entered into the Preakness Stakes, thereby eliminating the opportunity to win the coveted Triple Crown, and Preakness was won by the Chad Brown trained third-favourite Early Voting, which is not running in the Belmont Stakes.

So what does that mean for the field in New York? Well, the only horse to have won a Triple Crown event this year, Rich Strike, is in the running, but their odds will be heavily slashed from the generous 80/1 longshot available when he stole the show at Kentucky. The question remains over Rich Strike’s ability to consistently perform at the highest level – and this should be a consideration for punters hoping to see lightning strike twice.

horse racing
The Belmont Stakes is currently contested at 1 ½ miles, or 12 furlongs, making it the longest of the Triple Crown races. Image credit: wingbeats551/Bigstock.com

There are no such qualms about Steven Asmussen trained Epicenter, and Asmussen may be wondering how he is not lining up his horse for the first Triple Crown since Justify in 2018 at this year’s Belmont Stakes. A thoroughbred in every sense of the word, Epicenter has finished runner-up at both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes this season, and with four career wins, including the Louisiana Stakes in March, you’d be a brave individual to back a different horse on Big Sandy.

Of course, form and pedigree of that quality does not go unnoticed by the odds-makers, and Epicenter’s obvious credentials mean that a great price will be hard to find. If you’re keen to back a runner with form at slightly longer odds, perhaps look at Mo Donegal.

Trained by Todd Pletchner, a three-time Belmont Stakes winner, Mo Donegal finished fifth in the Kentucky Derby earlier this year, and boasts three career victories.

The horse skipped the Preakness Stakes, but did so in order to hit the track at Elmont early, and the horse looks in as good a shape as any of the runners for a tilt at the title. Similarly, Antonio Sano’s Simplification has form in the Grade I races this year, finishing fourth and sixth in Kentucky and Preakness, respectively.

As always, a full list of updated odds for the Belmont Stakes will be published in the days before the meeting, and we wish you the best in backing a winner at the Test of Champions.

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