Best Belmont Stakes Trifecta Bets in 2019
One of my favorite things to do leading into every Triple Crown race is to look at possible trifecta bets you could make in each race. Some would make sense, and some would only appeal to Triple Crown geeks like me. For example, last year if you had boxed the former Belmont winning jockeys in the race you would have hit the trifecta - Mike Smith and the two Ortiz brothers. Heck, two-time Belmont winner John Velazquez finished fourth, so you could have hit the superfecta, too. Here are some of the best Belmont trifecta bets that jump out from looking at the past performances this year:
Triple Crown experience: A significant portion of horses who win the Belmont have had prior experience in at least one of the Triple Crown races. It only makes sense - the best colts are going to jump into one of the races before this one if they are good enough to do so. Unfortunately, this year this doesn't help us much since seven of the 10 likely starters have already been seen somewhere. War of Will has run in both races, winning the Preakness. Tacitus, Master Fencer, Spinoff, and Tax were in the Derby before skipping the Preakness - a successful path of late in this race. And Everfast and Bourbon War were in the Preakness, with the former doing much better than the latter - an unexpected result. Seven horses in a tri box in a 10-horse race is an expensive and ill-advised idea. We have to go deeper.
Derby experience: If we limit it to just horses that were previously in the Kentucky Derby, we can do a little better - the five are War of Will, Tacitus, Master Fencer, Spinoff, and Tax. The best colts in the country aim for the Derby, so these horses should have a boost. A large percentage of recent Belmont winners were also in the Derby.
Sons of Tapit: This one is obvious. Tapit, one of our top sires, has pretty much perfect breeding for this race, with an incredible number of Belmont winners in his pedigree. And Tapit has been very good at channeling that history into success from his sons - three have won this race since 2014. This year a full 30 percent of the field is made up of sons of Tapit - Tacitus, Bourbon War, and Intrepid Heart. If you wanted to add a horse here, you could also expand slightly and throw in Everfast. He is a grandson of the great Belmont winner A.P. Indy just like Tapit is.
Hall of Fame trainers: Three horses represent two hall of fame trainers here. Tacitus is trained by Bill Mott, who won this race with Drosselmeyer and won the Derby this year with Country House - at least according to the record books. Spinoff and Intrepid Heart are both trained by Todd Pletcher, who has won the Derby twice and this race three times. If you wanted to bet more horses, you could add in War of Will and Sir Winston - their trainer, Mark Casse, is a Canadian hall of fame trainer.
D. Wayne Lukas training tree: Lukas is a training legend, having won the Derby and Belmont four times each and the Preakness six times. He has had a large impact on modern training as well, as many of his assistants have gone on to have successful careers. Most notable is Todd Pletcher, so that gives us Spinoff and Intrepid Heart. Mark Hennig, who trains Bourbon War, also put in his time with Lukas. If you want another horse, you could add in Tax. Trainer Danny Gargan didn't work for Lukas, but Hennig was a key mentor for him.
Graded Stakes winners: This is a depressingly short list for a race of this caliber. Just three horses in this group of 10 have a graded stakes win. War of Will leads the way with three, including the Preakness. Tacitus has two this spring. And Tax claimed one.
The 'other' horses: And angle that many people like is to bet the 'other horse'. For example, War of Will is going to be a popular betting interest in this race, so contrarians will be drawn to Sir Winston, Mark Casse's other horse. Similarly, Intrepid Heart could be the Todd Pletcher other because Spinoff is better known having run in the Derby. And you could throw in Tacitus because, unexpectedly, he was the other Mott horse in the Derby behind winner Country House.
Coming off a debacle: Not all horses come into this race with all cylinders firing. And it's more common than you might expect to see a horse go from a disappointment last time out to a win in the Belmont. Three horses are coming off of truly ugly races. Tax was 14th in the Derby, which was bad but looked good compared to Spinoff in 18th. And after drawing heavy betting attention in the Preakness, Bourbon War was an ugly eighth.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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