$1 Million Belmont Stakes

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$1,000,000 Belmont Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park Race 10 (Saturday, June 20, 2020: 5:42 p.m./ET; 2:42 p.m./PT) Mile and an eighth on the main track (three-year-olds)

While there are a couple of significant changes to the 2020 Belmont Stakes (G1) this year (first leg of the Triple Crown series and now run at the distance of one mile-and-an-eighth), one thing that hasn’t changed is that the starting gate will be filled with some of the best main track three-year-olds in the United States. Let’s preview the field:  

#1 TAP IT TO WIN made a hole in the wind a little over two weeks ago in a gate to wire allowance victory over the Belmont main track while earning a 97 Beyer Speed Figure. That day, he got a clear advantage on the front end early and may be able to inherit an easy lead again in this spot. That said, there are also concerns as to whether he’ll ‘bounce’ after such a strong effort. Mixed feelings, but a repeat of his last start makes him a legit contender.

#2 SOLE VOLANTE wheels back in just 10 days for his Grade I debut after beating stablemate ETE INDIEN in an allowance race, who ran second to #8 TIZ THE LAW in the Holy Bull (G2) in February. Earlier in the year, this gelding won the Sam F. Davis (G3) and ran second to Grade I placed KING GUILLERMO in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2).

#3 MAX PLAYER is a son of fledgling sire HONOR CODE who was last seen winning the Withers (G3) at Aqueduct. His other win from three career starts came two races ago while breaking his maiden at Parx over a sloppy track. He took a step forward in the Withers (G3) after his maiden victory and will need to do so again if he is to have a shot at winning this race.

#4 MODERNIST was floated wide on both turns in his most recent start, the Louisiana Derby (G2), and ended up running third behind the highly regarded WELLS BAYOU. Before that effort, he received a much better trip and won the Risen Star (G2). This is the toughest field he’s ever seen, and speed figures indicate he’ll need to run a bit faster to compete with the major contenders.

#5 FARMINGTON ROAD was no match for NADAL and KING GUILLERMO on May 23 in the second division of the Arkansas Derby (G1). This deep closer is at the mercy of early pace, which isn’t projected to be all that fast here. An exotics placing may be his ceiling.

#6 FORE LEFT was last seen in Dubai winning the UAE 2000 Guineas (G3) going a one-turn mile at Meydan racecourse in February. He has raced on three different surfaces but is clearly best on dirt, sporting a four-for-seven record on it. His last two workouts, a bullet five-furlong drill in 59 flat and a six-furlong stamina work in 1:12 and change, indicates he’s done some serious work in the mornings to get ready for this. Jose Ortiz rides for trainer Doug O’Neill.

#7 JUNGLE RUNNER has lost by double digit lengths in his last four races and would need complete form reversal to be competitive.

#8 TIZ THE LAW is the prohibitive favorite. Barclay Tagg trainee has scored runaway wins in the Holy Bull (G3) and the Florida Derby (G1) to kick off his 2020 season and looks to win the Belmont (G1) while remaining undefeated this year. Very talented colt is expected to stalk the pace and pounce down the stretch under regular rider Manny Franco, who retains the mount.

#9 DR POST has always been well regarded. After losing his career debut at odds of 1/2 as a two-year-old, he returned eight-and-a-half months later as an older and stronger horse, defeating maidens first start off the layoff before winning the Unbridled Stakes at Gulfstream Park in April. He makes his third start off the layoff for Todd Pletcher and picks up the riding services of top jockey Irad Ortiz Jr.

#10 PNEUMATIC was last seen finishing a length-and-three-quarters behind Grade I winner MAXFIELD in the Matt Winn (G3) at Churchill Downs. His speed figures have improved every race, which is a positive, but he takes another bump up in class.

SELECTIONS
1. #8 TIZ THE LAW - May be too much for this group.
2. #1 TAP IT TO WIN - Come and catch him.
3. #2 SOLO VALENTE - Best of the rest.
LONGSHOT VALUE PLAY-#9 DR. POST - Continues to improve.

WAGERING STRATEGY
I’ll key my top pick over my other three selections and #10 PNEUMATIC in trifectas. With my remaining $2, I’ll play it to win on my second choice.

BANKROLL PLAY ($50 Budget)
$2 Trifecta: #8 TIZ THE LAW over #1 TAP IT TO WIN and #2 SOLO VALENTE and #9 DR. POST and #10 PNEUMATIC ($48).
$2 Win: #1 TAP IT TO WIN

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