Belmont Stakes Betting Guide

Belmont stakes


How to Bet on the Belmont Stakes

Thoroughbred racing is one of the oldest sports in North America, so it’s only fitting that the Triple Crown trail ends at stately Belmont Park in New York, with the annual running of the Belmont Stakes. This Grade I classic has been around since 1867, making it the oldest of the three Triple Crown races – and the longest, at a grueling 1 ½ miles. It takes a very special horse to win all three events, but even when there isn’t a Triple Crown on the line, betting on the Belmont Stakes gets hot and heavy, with millions of people around the world getting in on the action.

You can join in the fun right here at Bovada's Online Racebook. We’ll show you how to bet on the Belmont Stakes, starting with all the different Belmont Stakes betting options at your disposal. Then we’ll give you some helpful tips for how to get the most bang for your Belmont buck. Even if you don’t know a forelock from a fetlock, this guide will take you from beginner to informed horseplayer in just a few short minutes.


Belmont Stakes Betting Options

If this is your first time betting on the horses, you’ll need to know about the pari-mutuel betting system. Invented in 1867 by Joseph Oller, pari-mutuel betting is different from the fixed-odds system that’s used for almost every other sporting event. Instead of placing your wager with the book and getting paid out based on the odds at the time of your purchase, all bets are pooled together, the book takes its commission for processing your wager, and the remaining money is divided among the winners. That means the closing odds are the ones in effect for your payout.

With two exceptions, the following list of Belmont Stakes betting options will use the pari-mutuel system to process your wagers. Let’s start with the easiest and most popular bets on the list:


Belmont Stakes Straight Wagers (Win/Place/Show)

If you’re only going to make one bet on the Belmont Stakes, you’ll probably want to pick which horse is going to win. This is the easiest wager to understand, and it gives you the opportunity to cheer your chosen Thoroughbred to victory. That’s what millions of people did in 2015 when they bet on American Pharoah to complete the Triple Crown. He crossed the line first at 3/4 on the Belmont Stakes odds board, paying out $3.50 for every $2 bet – that’s $2 times 3/4, plus the original $2.

After the Win bet, the next straight wager on the list is the Place bet. This is where you pick a horse to finish either first or second. The payout isn’t as high with the Place bet; American Pharoah paid out $2.80 in 2015. But it’s also a less risky wager, and depending on the race, it can have more betting value, too. The same goes for the Show bet, where you pick a horse to finish anywhere in the top three. Show bets on American Pharoah paid out even less at $2.50, but they gave him plenty of room for error in case he ran into trouble and fell out of the top two spots.

To further hedge your bets, you can make an “across the board” wager, where you bet on one horse to win, place and show. If your horse wins the race, you get all three payouts for the Win, Place and Show bets. If your horse comes in second, you get Place and Show money, and if your horse comes in third, you get the Show payout. Win/Place and Place/Show bets are also available as combo straight wagers.


Belmont Stakes 101: Everything You You Should Know


Belmont Stakes Exotic Bets

In horse racing, as in other sports, pretty much anything that’s not a straight wager is considered an exotic wager. However, sharp bettors in other sports tend to do less business with exotics than they do when they’re at the track. That’s partly because of the pari-mutuel system, and partly because of all these different ways you can bet on the horses:

Belmont Stakes Exacta Betting

Instead of betting on just one horse, why not bet on two? An exacta bet asks you to pick the two horses that will cross the line 1-2, in that order. It’s like a parlay bet, and the payouts can get pretty tasty; at the 2015 Belmont, a $2 exacta bet on American Pharoah and Frosted would have paid out $13.60.

Belmont Stakes Trifecta Betting

For an even bigger payout, try picking the first three horses to cross the line 1-2-3, in that order. Keen Ice finished third at the 2015 Belmont, so if you had him in your trifecta after American Pharoah and Frosted, you were paid $109.50 for every $2 wagered.

Belmont Stakes Superfecta Betting

Why stop at three horses? Pick the first four to cross the line in the exact order, and the next round of Belmont Jewels (the official drink of the Belmont Stakes since 2012) is on you. After Mubtaahij came in fourth at the 2015 Belmont, everyone with a winning $1 superfecta ticket was paid out $285.

Belmont Stakes Quinella Betting

Big payouts are nice, but there are times when it’s good to hedge your bets instead. A quinella bet is like an exacta bet, with the two horses allowed to finish in either order, 1-2 or 2-1. This can be a good bet to make where there are two horses with similar odds who are clearly better than the rest of the field.


Belmont Stakes Betting Guide

What Are Boxed Wagers in Belmont Stakes Betting?

Anytime you’ve got at least two horses you’d like to bet on, and you can’t choose which order to pick them in, you can bet on all the possible combinations at once by placing a boxed wager. We’ve already seen an example of this: A quinella is essentially a boxed exacta. With a boxed trifecta, your ticket will win as long as your horses finish 1-2-3, 1-3-2, 2-1-3, 2-3-1, 3-1-2 or 3-2-1. The more horses you add, the more chances you have to win – although your payout will decrease along with your risk.


What Are Wheeled Bets in Belmont Stakes Betting?

If you like a certain horse to finish in a certain position (usually first), but you’d still prefer to hedge your other bets, you can opt for a wheeled bet. For example, at the 2015 Belmont, you could have locked in American Pharoah to finish first, with either Frosted or Keen Ice or any other number of horses in the field coming in second.


Belmont Stakes Futures Bets

This is the first of our Belmont betting options that uses the fixed-odds system to calculate your payout. Futures bets ask you to wager on the outcome of an event well in advance; for the Belmont Stakes, futures odds are usually posted right after the Preakness Stakes, the second jewel in the Triple Crown. You can find these odds at Bovada Sportsbook as well as Bovada Racebook, with the sportsbook using American odds instead of fractional odds.


Belmont Stakes Prop Bets

Proposition bets, or prop bets for short, are the second example of a horse racing wager that uses fixed odds. These are bets on anything other than the final outcome of the race. Some of the most popular prop bets at the Belmont are the head-to-head matchups, where you pick one horse to finish ahead of the other. In 2015, American Pharoah was a –300 favorite to finish ahead of Frosted (+240), and Frosted was –125 to finish ahead of Materiality (–105), who came in eighth and last place.


What Is a Coupled Entry in Belmont Stakes Betting?

At most Triple Crown races, there will be at least one trainer or owner who has multiple horses in the field; for example, trainer Todd Pletcher had both Materiality and Madefromlucky at the 2015 Belmont. You can bet on all these horses as a single entity by placing a coupled entry. That way, if you bet on one horse, but their stablemate gets it done instead, you still get paid.


What Is a Pick 3 and Pick 4 in Belmont Stakes Betting?

As important as the Belmont Stakes is, it’s not the only important race being run at Belmont Park during this two-day festival. The Pick 3 and Pick 4 ask you to select the winners of consecutive races on that day’s card, with the races chosen by track officials at Belmont.


What Is a Daily Double in Belmont Stakes Betting?

The Daily Double is basically a Pick 2, where you select the winners of back-to-back races. Because the Belmont Stakes is a special event, track officials have instead paired it with the Grade 2 Belmont Gold Cup, which takes place one day earlier on Friday.


Belmont Stakes Betting Guide

Belmont Stakes Betting Tips

Now that you know which bets you can make at the Belmont Stakes, the next step is to figure out how to get the most value from your wagers. It can take years to become an expert at the horses, but it only takes a moment to learn the basic concepts that will help you make sharper choices with your Belmont picks.

The most important thing about the Belmont Stakes compared to other races is its length. In modern Thoroughbred racing, horses are almost never asked to run 1 ½ miles like they used to on a regular basis. This makes stamina even more important for would-be Belmont champions. Since there isn’t much opportunity for horses to prove themselves at this distance, look instead at their bloodlines, and see how other family members performed over the long haul.

Next, consider the racing style that’s best suited for the Belmont Stakes. Frontrunners almost never win this race, although that didn’t stop American Pharoah in 2015. That leaves two basic styles: stalkers, who try to take the lead after sitting just behind the early leaders, and closers, who try to overtake the field from well behind. In theory, closers should have more value at the Belmont, since they have more distance to work with, but in practice, stalkers have had much more success.

One possible explanation for this is the relative unfamiliarity that some jockeys have with Belmont Park. It’s very important to make your move at just the right time when you’re trying to chase down the frontrunners; somewhere around the mile pole or the 1 ¼ mile pole seems to be effective. Ideally, both horse and jockey will have raced and won at Belmont Park before, making them proven commodities for Belmont Stakes betting, but that’s not going to happen very often with the modern racing schedule.

Another possible explanation for closers not doing as well as expected: Horses just aren’t built for stamina anymore, at least not in North American Thoroughbred racing. For decades, the best endurance runners have been snapped up by European buyers for their longer turf races, while American buyers have prioritized speed over stamina. Making the switch from turf to the dirt track at Belmont can be difficult for those few European-based horses that do make the trip to New York.

With a little quick-and-dirty research on the internet, you can look up all the horses who will be competing at the Belmont Stakes and find out where they’re from, what racing styles they prefer, and what distances and surfaces they’ve had success at. For an extra-sharp pick, check the weather forecast; if it’s going to be a rainy day, look for horses who have performed well in sloppy conditions. And unlike most races in general, the Belmont Stakes hasn’t been very kind to favorites, many of whom fail to finish even in the top five. They don’t call it the Test of the Champion for nothing.

Just like that, you already know more about the Belmont Stakes than most people. You know all the different ways you can bet on the Belmont, and how to place your bets like a pro. Bovada Racebook will have updated odds on the Belmont Stakes and sharp analysis all the way up to post time. Enjoy the races, and don’t forget about that round of Belmont Jewels if you hit the superfecta.