A Bettor's Guide to the Belmont Stakes | NBC New York
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Race to Triple Crown: Full Archives

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A Bettor's Guide to the Belmont Stakes

Do you have your game on? We've got you covered - from understanding the odds to the track's special conditions.



    Fancy putting down a wager on the Belmont Stakes, airing live on NBC Saturday, but don't want to look like a novice when you place your bet?

    American Pharoah will attempt to become the 12th Triple Crown winner and first since Affirmed in 1978 when he contests the 147th running of the Belmont Stakes Saturday at Belmont Park. A 3-5 favorite to win according to SBNation.com. Fourth place runner-up at the Kentucky Derby is Frosted, a leading challenger to Pharoah with  5-1 and Materiality, sixth at Kendtucky, at 6-1.

    As well as the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, American Pharoah has won both the Rebel Stakes and the Arkansas Derby so far in 2015.

    For all you inexperienced bettors out there, here's a quick guide to betting on the Belmont Stakes that'll have you sounding like a serious handicapper by the time American Pharoah approaches the starting gate.

    Triple Crown Preview: American Pharoah Races Towards History

    [NATL] Triple Crown Preview: American Pharoah Races Towards History
    American Pharaoh will be the 14th horse in almost 40 years with a chance to win horse racing's Triple Crown. (Published Friday, June 5, 2015)


    Odds-on many racing newcomers may not know what the odds actually mean. Whenever there are two numbers (e.g., 3:5 for American Pharoah at time of writing) displayed on a tote board at a racetrack or on a list of wager options, the first number (3) denotes the minimum amount of profit the wager will pay. The second number (5) is the amount you need to wager to win the first amount.

    Once the final finishing places of a race are official, the track will post the prices of the winning wagers. In the above example, the horse will pay $3. The track will then add the $3 profit and the $5 wager together to derive the payout: $3 + $5 = $8. Frosted at 5:1 would therefore pay $6 on a $1 bet.

    If a horse is quoted with only a single digit, it is implied that the missing second number is a 1. In other words, a 7 on the tote board means 7:1. So if you made a $2 wager, a bet on a horse with 7:1 odds would pay $16. That's because 7:1 is the same as 14:2, so $14 + $2 = $16. (In betting on horse races, payouts are generally based on a $2 wager.)

    Now that the odds makes sense, it’s time to decide the type of wager you want to make. Here are some of the most popular bets:

    Win Your horse must finish first to collect.

    Place Your horse must finish first or second to collect.

    Show Your horse must finish first, second or third to collect.

    Exacta You play two horses, and they must come in first and second in the exact order specified in order to collect.

    Exacta Box You play two horses, as above, but here they must come in first and second in either order to collect.

    Trifecta You play three horses, and to win, they must come in first, second and third in exact order to collect.

    Trifecta Box You play three horses, and they must finish first, second and third in any order to collect.

    Superfecta You play four horses, and they must come in first, second, third and fourth in exact order.

    Superfecta Box You play four horses, and to win they must finish first, second, third and fourth in any order.


    But novice bettors need to take into account more than just the odds for the Belmont Stakes. To further boost your chances of making a winning bet on June 6, you should also consider the following:

    Distance: The Belmont Stakes is run over a distance of a mile and a half. Few three-year-olds will have had prior experience in such a long race. Some horses are ‘bred to distance’ and are usually a better candidate than one without a lineage of success at long races that put a premium on endurance.

    Schedule: One of the most significant reasons that winning the Triple Crown is such a rare event is the grueling schedule of the three races. While the ideal layoff between races varies from horse to horse, most high level equine competitors race fewer than 10 times per year. In most cases, thoroughbreds seldom race without a break of three weeks to a month. For a Triple Crown aspirant, however, it’s necessary to win three very competitive races in a five-week span. In recent years there has been a trend away from horses running in all three legs unless they’re in contention for the Triple Crown. For this reason, it’s worth giving special consideration to 'rested' horses.

    Weather/Track Condition: If there is a chance for bad weather and/or an off track it’s essential to consider that when handicapping the race. One good measure of a horse’s ability in this type of race can be found with a quick look at his past performances. If a young horse has any experience on a muddy or sloppy track that’s a good indication that his connections have confidence in his abilities in these circumstances.

    Coverage of the Belmont Stakes will air live Saturday June 6 starting at 4:30 p.m. ET on NBC.