2020 Belmont Stakes Exotics Preview: Ranking the Longshots That Can Contend With Tiz The Law
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- Tiz The Law (6-5) is the clear betting favorite to win the 152nd running of the Belmont Stakes (5:42 p.m. ET, NBC).
- Behind him, though, there are some horses who may be able to contend, including No. 9 Dr. Post at 5-1.
- Check out all of Mike Conti's rankings of horses that may be able to compete with the favorite, or are at least worth betting in exotics.
Tiz the Law is the morning-line favorite for the 2020 Belmont Stakes and is clearly the class of the 10-horse field in Saturday’s Triple Crown opener.
That being said, there are some interesting horses at good prices in the rest of the field and, even if you want to bet on Tiz the Law, you’re likely going to need to use one of the other competitors underneath (in exactas, trifectas, etc.) to get any value out of your bet in Saturday’s big race.
I ranked all 10 horses in the field below, but first here’s a quick refresher for new horseplayers…
New to Horse Racing?
For those of you that might be new to horse racing, the wagering pools are pari-mutuel, which means that, unlike in sports betting, you aren’t trying to beat the house but rather the public at large. The key to long-term success in betting the ponies is being disciplined in identifying value in the pools.
Speed Ratings and Beyer Speed Figures
Speed ratings are relative performance indicators that allow us to compare performances across tracks where not all factors are even. Some tracks might be naturally faster like Gulfstream or Santa Anita, where the surfaces are harder, compared to a track like Belmont or Aqueduct, where the surfaces are generally a bit deeper.
They also account for the condition of the track as most horses will travel slower over softer ground. This means that simply comparing times is ineffective as they need some kind of leveling factor.
That’s what is built into speed ratings and they give a nice, although imperfect indicator of relative performance and ability.
A relative strength index for the field of a specific race. This gives you an idea of the level of the competition the horse was facing, as it can vary wildly from track to track even with the same win conditions.
How often do favorites win in horse racing?
Generally speaking, the favorite in horse racing wins at about a 35% rate but that number varies depending on the number of horses in the field. Armed with that knowledge you might want to just pick the favorites, frequently known as the chalk, but a closer look at the implied odds shows that you’d need average odds of 2-1 or better to break even on “win” bets.
So, in order to profit horseplayers must pick and choose the horses that they feel have a better chance to win than their implied odds, which is known as positive expected value (+EV). Expected value is not unique to horse racing and something that all bettors should get familiar with if they want to succeed.
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No. 8 Tiz the Law (6-5)
There are a number of storylines with Tiz the Law, the heavy morning-line favorite. He’s won four of his five starts, he’s one of Constitution’s successful offspring, his connections (owner and trainer) teamed up with Funny Cide in 2003 to win the Kentucky Derby and Preakness before finishing the third in the Belmont and his trainer, Barclay Tagg, has never won the Belmont.
Putting the storylines behind us, let’s take a closer look at his ability on the track. The only time Tiz the Law didn’t win was over a sloppy race track at Churchill Downs in the G2 Kentucky Jockey Cup as a two-year-old. He’s got a win at Belmont and he’s won at this distance as well.
His preferred running style is to sit just off the pace in a stalking position and explode coming out of the turn coming for home.
The race looks like it will set up for him and on paper, he has no excuses.
No. 9 Dr. Post (5-1)
After only one start as a two-year-old, where Dr. Post finished a distant fifth as the heavy 1-2 favorite, he went to the sidelines for eight months. The son of Quality Road broke his maiden in his three-year-old debut at Gulfstream in impressive fashion.
Dr. Post then stepped up to face non-graded stakes company at Gulfstream, where it looked like he didn’t have room to get through traffic, but jockey Irad Ortiz Jr., was able to navigate a way through for an impressive win.
Even though this is a step up in class and his Beyer speed figures regressed from his maiden score to the non-graded stakes win, the fact that he was able to win with the trouble is impressive.
If he continues to move forward and gets a better trip, he can give Tiz the Law all he can handle coming for home.
No. 4 Modernist (15-1)
Modernist first entered the starting gate late in his two-year-old season. He was unsuccessful in both tries, but was able to get the job done in his first start as a three-year-old at the Big A.
The son of Uncle Mo followed that victory up with another in one of the two divisions of the G2 Risen Star Stakes, though it was the weaker field. In his most recent start he finished third in the G3 Louisiana Derby. Although both wins came against not-so-impressive fields, both of said wins came at the distance.
The lack of pace in this race will help Modernist as he wants to be on, or close to, the pace. In addition, his Beyer speed figures have continued to improve as a three-year-old, but he will need to see a significant improvement if he’s going to win here.
Horses to Use in Exotics
No. 1 Tap It to Win (6-1)
The Florida homebred is coming back after only 16 days, but he looked terrific in that race, winning in front-running fashion here at Belmont.
Trainer Mark Casse won the Belmont last year with Sir Winston, but his only win so far during this meet was Tap It to Win’s score last time out.
Tap It to Win broke his maiden at Saratoga before trying stakes company and finishing last of ten both times. He’s come back to win both of his starts as a three-year-old and Casse clearly believes that he can take another step forward to put him in this spot.
No. 10 Pneumatic (8-1)
Pneumatic won his career debut in mid-February at Oaklawn and followed that up with another win in an allowance race.
Most recently he finished third in the G3 Matt Win Stakes against Maxfied, one of the top three-year-olds in the world. Pneumatic has stepped up in class in each start and has also continued to improve his Beyer numbers.
I think the combination of his outside post and tactical speed will benefit him in this spot, but he will be going up against another terrific three-year-old, so he will need to have a better showing if he’s going to have a chance in here.
No. 3 Max Player (15-1)
This son of Honor Code has two wins and one second from three career starts, but due to the pandemic, he hasn’t been in the starting gate since the beginning of February in the G3 Withers, but he’s been training consistently since then leading up to this spot.
Trainer Linda Rice, typically one of New York’s top trainers hasn’t found the winner’s circle during the current meet, but her runners are always live. Max Player picks up top jock Joel Rosario in this spot, but he will need more than just a top jock to win this race.
He has continued to show improvement in his Beyer’s, but again, will need to take a significant step forward to compete for the win here.
Horses to Throw Out
No. 2 Sole Volante (9-2)
Sole Volante hasn’t missed the board in six career starts, including a win in the G3 Sam F Davis at Tampa. His morning-line odds and his success suggest he should be ranked higher in these rankings, but the lack of pace in this race is why he ends up in the bottom half.
In each of his starts he was far back early and closed well late. But, there is a significant lack of pace in this race and Sole Volante will need to overcome a poor race set-up to have a chance here.
Additionally, jockey Luca Panici is a South Florida rider who rarely rides in New York and Belmont has the nickname Big Sandy for a reason.
No. 6 Fore Left (30-1)
He is the most-raced horse in here with nine career starts; four of which he has won, including a non-graded stakes victory as a two-year-old right here at Belmont.
He wants the lead and, even with the lack of pace, he may not be fast enough to get ahead early.
Fore Left won his only start as at Meydan in the G3 UAE 2000 Guineas, but this is a massive step up, facing much tougher company. I don’t think he will be competitive in this field.
No. 5 Farmington Road (15-1)
The other son of Quality Road and the other Todd Pletcher trainee, Farmington Road only has one win and two second-place finishes in six career starts.
His Beyer’s have continued to improve throughout his career, but even his best numbers don’t make him competitive in this spot. Typically, I like to play the top trainer’s other horse, but there are too many reasons to bet against Farmington Road in here.
Just like Fore Left isn’t fast enough to wire this field, Farmington Road will need significantly more pace for him to win.
No. 7 Jungle Runner (50-1)
Jungle Runner just flat out isn’t good enough to win this race. He hasn’t seen the winner’s circle in seven months and even then, it was against much lesser company at a much lesser track.
His speed figures are by far the worst in this race and since his last win, he hasn’t come closer than 14 lengths of the winner in four tries.
The only bright spot for Jungle Runner is he gets up and coming jockey, Reylu Gutierrez, who always seems to get his horses in the money, especially the long shots.