The Belmont Stakes is the biggest race of the year in New York! Even though there won’t be another New York-bred like 2020 winner Tiz the Law to keep the August Belmont Trophy in the state, the $1.5 million race still drew an excellent field of eight entrants, including three from the barn of perennial New York leading trainer Todd Pletcher.
The Belmont Stakes has returned to its traditional place on the Triple Crown calendar. After being run as the first Triple Crown race last year, at an abbreviated distance of a mile and an eighth, it is now back to its traditional status as the Test of the Champion. It will cover 1 1/2 miles and will be run five weeks after the Kentucky Derby, three weeks after the Preakness.
Belmont Stakes Horses
These are the official entrants for the 2021 Belmont Stakes, along with their post positions, trainers, jockeys, and morning line odds:
Bourbonic – Todd Pletcher/Kendrick Carmouche (15/1)
Essential Quality – Brad Cox/Luis Saez (2/1)
Rombauer – Michael McCarthy/John Velazquez (3/1)
Hot Rod Charlie – Doug O’Neill/Flavien Prat (7/2)
France Go de Ina – Hideyuki Mori/Ricardo Santana, Jr. (30/1)
Known Agenda – Todd Pletcher/Irad Ortiz, Jr. (6/1)
Rock Your World – John Sadler/Joel Rosario (9/2)
Overtook – Todd Pletcher/Manuel Franco (20/1)
However, those odds are only morning-line odds: the track’s best guess as to how the betting will happen. As you consider the horses and plan to wager on the biggest race Belmont Park has to offer, your best bet is to sign up for one or more of the top online sportsbooks, like WagerWeb, and be ready to lock in the best odds.
Belmont Stakes Handicapping
Now that you know the horses running in the 2021 Belmont Stakes, let’s start handicapping!
Tips for Picking Winners at Belmont
Belmont Park is unique. Most of the tracks around the United States are a lot shorter, which many of the major tracks only being a mile or a mile and an eighth round. A full circuit of the Belmont dirt is a mile and a half, and it takes both knowledge and finesse to give a horse a good ride while leaving enough energy to finish well.
Experienced jockeys at Belmont Park who have mounts in the Belmont include perennial top rider Irad Ortiz, Jr., Hall of Fame rider John Velazquez, Joel Rosario, Manuel Franco, and Kendrick Carmouche. Luis Saez, who rides favorite Essential Quality, has not been riding at Belmont as long as some of the other riders but has been doing very well on their dirt this year.
Looking at the trainers who have horses in the Belmont Stakes, Todd Pletcher does well at New York tracks a year in and year out. Though Essential Quality’s trainer Brad Cox is hardly a Belmont mainstay, he has been doing well this year with horses he runs at Belmont, with five wins in 15 starts on the meet leading into Belmont weekend.
Belmont Stakes Contenders
Essential Quality should go off the favorite in the Belmont Stakes. Even though he lost for the first time ever in the Kentucky Derby, he ran a close fourth after a rough start, proving once again how consistent and hard-trying he is. He is pace-versatile as well, and he is by Tapit, a sire who already has three Belmont Stakes winners.
The best chance to upset the Belmont belongs to Known Agenda. A rough beginning from the rail hurt him in the Kentucky Derby, but he drew better and faces a smaller field this time. He has top Belmont connections in Todd Pletcher and Irad Ortiz, both sides of his pedigree are replete with stamina, and he has already run a good race over the big, sandy Belmont course.
The one they’ll have to catch down the lane is Rock Your World. Bumped off of his front-running style after a difficult beginning in the Kentucky Derby, Rock Your World should have a cleaner chance this time to set the pace. He should be faster to the front than France Go de Ina, and he has enough stamina in the dam’s side of his pedigree to have a chance at the mile and a half.
Both Rombauer and Hot Rod Charlie are likely to make money in the Belmont, though questions hover over both. Rombauer is in excellent form and showed a more tactical side in the Blue Grass, but must turn the tables on Essential Quality and his pedigree raises some questions for the distance. Hot Rod Charlie also has pedigree questions, especially underneath, and trainer Doug O’Neill’s poor Belmont track record raises questions.
Belmont Stakes Longshot
For those looking at a longshot to sweeten the exotics, why not Overtook? He is likely the longest price of the three-deep Pletcher brigade. Pletcher knows how to train a Belmont horse, and even his longshots can do well — remember Commissioner? Overtook has an excellent pedigree for the distance, and ran well enough in the Peter Pan to suggest he can handle the course and move forward second off the lay.
Belmont Day Wagering
At Belmont Park, you can wager on many of the same wagers that you get all over the country. You can bet to win, meaning the horse must run first. You can bet to place, meaning the horse must run first or second. A show bet means the horse must run first, second, or third. Across the board means betting a horse to win, place, or show.
You can also chase higher payouts with exotic wagers. An exacta requires picking the first two horses in order, the trifecta the first three in order, superfecta the first four. Boxing these wagers cost more but ensures you have every order covered, so your horses can finish in any order.
You can also pick winners in multiple races. A Daily Double requires you to pick the winners of two races in a row. A Pick 3, Pick 4, and Pick 5 require you to pick winners of 3, 4, and 5 races in a row. The Empire 6, a $1 minimum Pick 6, makes you pick six winners in a row: every race from the Jaipur through the Belmont.
Finally, New York Racing Association racetracks also offer the unique Grand Slam bet. Offered in races 7 through 10 on Belmont Day, your horse has to finish first, second, or third in the first three legs, and then win the final leg.
Belmont Stakes Bets
Here are the best bets for the 2021 Belmont Stakes:
$20 win – Known Agenda
$2 exacta box – Known Agenda, Essential Quality, Rock Your World
$1 trifecta box – Known Agenda, Essential Quality, Rock Your World, Overtook
$0.20 superfecta box – Known Agenda, Essential Quality, Rock Your World, Overtook, Rombauer
Where to Bet the Belmont
Now that you know all about the race, the horses, and the wagers, it’s time to bet the Belmont! The top racebooks are offering excellent incentives for Belmont bettors, including sign-up bonuses and rebates. All of these sportsbooks have trusted deposit and cash-out abilities, are easy to use and offer excellent odds on Belmont Day and all year long.