By Kevin Martin
The expected favorite in this Saturday's Belmont Stakes, Classic Empire, was withdrawn from the race on Wednesday due to injury. His defection has left the field with a lack of star power as the Kentucky Derby and Preakness' winners won't be running in the Belmont either. Even without that recognizable trio, the field of 12 runners is an interesting bunch that will bring a bevy of betting opportunities that could prove lucrative if you get it right.
I have no strong opinion about the potential Belmont winner as none would be a great surprise given that even the best of the bunch have been inconsistent. Others in the field don't have the body of work yet to judge them as potential winners, but 3-year-old colts are still developing at this time of the year and can improve (and regress) radically from race to race. Factor in the long 1 1/2 mile distance of the race and it only adds to the wide open nature of the field. Without a strong win candidate, I'll look to exacta and trifecta bets to invest my $100 in the Belmont Stakes.
Irish War Cry will be favored and if he runs as he did in his two wins in 2017 he is the most likely winner. If he doesn't, he could very well finish in the bottom half of the field as he did in the Kentucky Derby and earlier this year in Florida. Considering the potential short odds and the possibility that he could run another clunker makes him a poor investment in the win pool but still a must use in exacta and trifecta bets.
Like Irish War Cry, Tapwrit and Patch ran in the Kentucky Derby but skipped the Preakness. Both of these talented runners had a rough trip in the Derby, ruining any chance for a finish in the money. They are both trained by Todd Pletcher who has had success in the Belmont over the last decade. Tapwrit will be among the top betting choices and Patch will be a longshot.
The final horse in my betting does not necessarily make sense on paper but his outstanding trainer Chad Brown told the Bloodhorse Magazine that the Belmont Stakes has been his target since the colt won the Tesio Stakes in Baltimore last month. Twisted Tom does not run particularly fast but he has the steady, even paced running style that sometimes cashes a check in the Belmont through attrition. Twisted Tom is going to be one of the longest shots in the field with odds that could exceed 20-1.
The $100 Bet
An exacta bet is on the top two finishers of the race. The trifecta is the top three. You can play it straight where you select the exact order of finish or you can box it where your selections can finish in any order. The more horses you include on a boxed bet the more combinations of possible outcomes which increases the cost of the bet increases.
A four horse boxed exacta bet includes twelve possible outcomes, so if I play it for $4 - as I plan to do - the total cost is $48 (12 combinations x $4). You could also play that one for a minimum of $1 (12 combos x $1) which would reduce the cost of the bet to $12.
A four horse boxed trifecta has twenty four combinations, I will play that one for $2 so the total cost is also $48 (24 combinations x $2). The minimum bet on a trifecta in New York is .50 (24 combos x .50), so you can play that one for $12 if you choose.
What does it mean when betting for more than the minimum bet? When the results are announced, the winning amount for each bet is usually shown in $1 increments. So if I am right and the winning amount on a trifecta is $100 on a $1 bet, I will win $200 because my bet was for $2. If I played it for .50, my total payoff would be $50. Same scenario on the exacta: if it pays $100 on a $1 bet, I will win $400 because my bet was for $4. That might sound confusing but once you cash a few tickets it will become very clear!
How to Place the Bet
When it comes to placing the wagers proposed here, it requires some knowledge in the language of betting on horse races. When placing a bet with a live teller at a racetrack or at an off-track betting facility, you need to use the track name, race number, type and amount of the bet, and the program number(s) for the horse(s) you are playing.
The $4 exacta box with my top four selections that includes my top four picks would go like this: "Belmont race 11, $4 exacta box 1, 2, 7, 12." The total cost of the bet is $48. The Belmont Stakes is the 11th race on Saturday and Twisted Tom, Tapwrit, Irish War Cry, and Patch are the #1, #2, #7, and #12 in the program.
The $2 trifecta box is as follows: "Belmont race 11, $2 trifecta box 1, 2, 7, 12." The total cost of the bet is $48.
That leaves me with $4 and I will use that to put $4 on the longshot Twisted Tom to win: "Belmont Race 11, $4 to won on the 1."
Of course, it's more fun to make your own picks. You can learn more about doing that at Hello Race Fans.
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