Everything You Need to Know About the Belmont Stakes

One of the biggest horse races of the year, the Belmont Stakes, has a few surprises up it's sleeve. Here's everything you need to know about the "Test of the Champion."
Belmont Stakes at Saratoga Race Course

The Belmont Stakes is one of the most iconic horse races in the United States. It rounds out the prestigious Triple Crown series alongside the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, which were over the past few weeks. But this year, things are a bit different for the Belmont. For the first time in over a century, the Belmont Stakes will not be held at its traditional venue, Belmont Park.

Think you know the Belmont Stakes? Think again. Here’s everything you need to know about this showcase of some of the fastest thoroughbreds in the world.

A New Venue with a Twist

This year, the Belmont Stakes has moved to Saratoga Race Course due to renovations at Belmont Park. This is a bigger change than you might imagine.

First, the distance of the race has been shortened from its traditional 1 1/2 miles to 1 1/4 miles, the same distance as the Kentucky Derby. This is easily the biggest deviation from past races. This change will affect race strategies and outcomes since the shorter distance could benefit horses with different strengths. It gives horses the ability to prioritize short burst speed over stamina.

Secondly, the track at Saratoga is quite different from Belmont Park. The surface, configuration, and turns at Saratoga bring a new set of challenges for the horses and their trainers. Historical trends from Belmont Park may not hold the same weight here, making this year's Belmont Stakes a unique spectacle.

All of this is to say that the horses can’t handle the track, instead, they’ll simply have to approach the race a bit differently than that of the past.

Top Contenders and Odds

Despite the changes, there are several horses that are up to the challenge and these are the best bets on the lineup of 10 thoroughbreds.

Sierra Leone (9/5 odds)

Sierra Leone is the favorite this year, trained by the esteemed Chad Brown. Sierra Leone finished second in the Kentucky Derby after a late-race contact incident. Regardless, the race was close enough for a photo finish that took several minutes to review. After the close race, Sierra Leone didn’t participate in the Preakness Stakes, which means he’s well-rested and coming off of a close second place finish. With a new jockey, Flavien Prat, on board, there is hope that Sierra Leone will maintain better discipline and leverage his experience to secure a win.

Mindframe (7/2 odds)

Mindframe is an exciting but relatively inexperienced contender with only two career starts, both of which he won. However, he boasts the highest Beyer Speed Figure in the field, making him a wildcard with potential for a standout performance. Normally we would scoff at such a rookie getting odds this good, but it’s a shorter track and therefore Mindframe is a solid contender.

Mystik Dan (5/1 odds)

Mystik Dan, the Kentucky Derby winner, is aiming to claim two-thirds of the Triple Crown with a win at Belmont. Though he participated at Preakness Stakes, he came in second right behind Seize the Grey. With solid performances and the excitement of potentially moving closer to a Triple Crown victory, Mystik Dan is a horse to watch and the horse that we’re putting our money on.

Seize the Grey (8/1 odds)

Seize the Grey, the Preakness Stakes winner, has shown remarkable development over recent races with 10 total races under the saddle. The shorter distance at Saratoga could play to his strengths, especially if the weather brings wet conditions, which he seems to handle well.

The Betting Landscape

Betting on the Belmont Stakes is a time-honored tradition just as any horse race. This year offers unique opportunities due to the venue change and adjusted race length. What was once the long leg of the Triple Crown now has no significant distinctions.

Understanding the odds for each horse is crucial for making informed bets. Sierra Leone stands as the favorite, but with the race being shorter and held at a different track, there's room for surprises, especially with Mindframe. Could the young, barely-tested thoroughbred take on the veteran Sierra Leone? Perhaps. But anything can happen.

Win, place, and show bets remain popular, but exacta and trifecta bets could rack up higher rewards if you can predict the top finishers in order. Given the changes this year, looking at the horses’ performance in similar conditions and distances might give you an edge.

Since this race doesn’t have the standout feature of a lengthy track, you could easily leverage stats and odds from previous races to get a better idea of how each horse will fare. After all, this track is the same length as the Kentucky Derby.

While you're placing your bets, be sure to use a promo code to get some bonus cash for the event. DraftKings has one of the best bonuses in the industry just in time for the Belmont Stakes.

Venue Insights: Saratoga Race Course

Saratoga Race Course is a historic venue in its own right, often dubbed "The Spa" due to its location in Saratoga Springs, New York. Known for its beautiful setting and vibrant racing culture, Saratoga offers a different atmosphere compared to Belmont Park. The course is famous for its challenging turns and a surface that can be tricky for horses unfamiliar with it. To our understanding, there’s no horse in the field for the Belmont that has raced this track before.

Spectators can enjoy a variety of amenities, from upscale dining experiences to more casual settings. The move to Saratoga not only impacts the race but also the overall experience for fans, adding a fresh twist to this year's event.

If you’re not able to make it this year, don’t worry. Next year the event coordinators are saying the Belmont Stakes will be back in Saratoga Springs as they’ll be finishing up the renovations at Belmont Park.

Historical Significance

Just like the Saratoga Race Course, The Belmont Stakes holds an important spot in horse racing history, being the oldest of the Triple Crown races, first run in 1867. Its rich legacy includes legendary winners and memorable moments.

Does Secretariat, American Pharoah, or Justify ring a bell? They’re all Triple Crown winners that earned the third win at Belmont Stakes. Unfortunately, there are no horses in the running for the coveted Triple Crown this year, but who knows what next year will hold?

This year, with the changes in venue and distance, the race adds a new chapter to its storied past. Given that the race will be in Saratoga Springs for the 2024 and 2025 Belmont Stakes, horse racing fans will be talking about this change for years to come.

Mystik Dan’s quest to win the Belmont after securing the Kentucky Derby would mark him as only the 12th horse to achieve this feat, having finished second in the Preakness. This rare accomplishment is part of what makes the Belmont Stakes such an exciting and dramatic race each year.

The Belmont Stakes Will Go On!

This year’s Belmont Stakes is shaping up to be an unforgettable event, as it is most years. Marked by a historic venue change and a fresh set of challenges for the contenders, we’re just as excited as you are to watch the most exciting 2 minutes in sports.

With top horses like Sierra Leone, Mystik Dan, Seize the Grey, and Mindframe in the mix, the race promises excitement and intense competition. Sure, you might find yourself screaming at the TV for your horse to cross the line, but it’s totally worth it. Whether you're a seasoned bettor or a casual fan, the 2024 Belmont Stakes at Saratoga Race Course offers a unique opportunity to witness horse racing history in the making.

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