By Kevin Martin
With a possible Triple Crown winner poised to run in Saturday’s Belmont Stakes, horse racing fans face a dilemma. Most racing fans will root for American Pharoah to become the twelfth Triple Crown winner, but if you want to place a wager on the race it’s logical and potentially lucrative to bet against him.
While American Pharoah looks like one of the most talented horses entering the Belmont after winning the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness this century, we have not had a Triple Crown in thirty-seven years. Thirteen horses have failed in New York since Affirmed completed his sweep in 1978. American Pharoah will be the heavy favorite even though the historical odds aren’t in his favor. He could be the one to finally end the drought and this racing fan’s heart will be pulling for him. My betting dollar, however, will be playing against him.
The $100 Bet
Frosted is the most likely candidate to upset this year’s Triple Crown bid so I’ll put $40 on his nose to win. He last raced in the Kentucky Derby where he started poorly but made a huge forward move on the final turn to finish a fast closing fourth. His jockey, Joel Rosario, has fresh memories of his winning ride aboard Tonalist in last year’s Belmont Stakes. With so much of the win pool going towards the favorite, Frosted is a solid play at odds likely around 5-1.
Materiality is another potential upsetter so I’ll box him in an exacta with my top selection. He has had five weeks rest since he skipped the Preakness after his troubled trip in the Derby. He should run close to the lead and has a chance to outfinish the American Pharoah, who will be making his third start in five weeks. Materiality’s sire Afleet Alex won the race in 2005.
Next, I will hedge a bet with a four horse exacta box that includes my top two picks as well as Mubtaahij and Keen Ice whose odds are expected to exceed 10-1. Mubtaahij made his North American debut in the Kentucky Derby where he finished an uninspired eighth. He showed early speed in most of his career races prior to the Derby so he should be within striking distance of the leaders on the Belmont backstretch. He has a pedigree that suggests he’ll keep running when others begin to fade.
Keen Ice has just one win from eight career starts but ran a decent seventh in the Derby. He has a running style that sometimes finds success in long distance races like the Belmont Stakes. He can make up ground late no matter what the early pace; in the Derby he closed into a soft pace. If any of this year’s big longshot contenders has a chance at an upset, he might be the one -the odds are certain to be at least 25-1.
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, 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 $40 win bet on Frosted is easy and would sound like this: “Belmont Park race 11, $40 to win on the 6.” (The Belmont Stakes is the 11th race at Belmont Park on Saturday)
For the first exacta box, we’ll play it for $15 with our top two selections (Frosted and Materiality). Ask for the bet as follows: “Belmont Park race 11, $15 exacta box with the 6 and 8.” The total cost of the bet is $30. If Materiality and Frosted finish first and second in either order, the ticket is a winner.
For the other exacta box bet, we’ll do it for $2 with the top two along with Keen Ice and Mubtaahij. Ask for it like this: “Belmont Park race 11, $2 exacta box with the 1, 6, 7, and 8.” It includes twelve possible combinations so on a $2 bet it costs $24. Any combination of those four horses finishing first and second is a winner.
That is a $40 win bet plus $54 on the two exacta bets for a total of $94. That leaves us with $6 for a down payment on a $12 beer at Belmont Park on Saturday.