Belmont Park Track Profile Tips and Trends

Profile Picture: Noel Michaels

Noel Michaels

September 5th, 2019

The Belmont Fall Meet is about more than just high-profile stakes races. Besides just stakes races, the Belmont meet also offers top-notch racing and wagering on all types of races, day-in-and-day-out all throughout the season. Here are some of the ins-and-outs of fall racing at Belmont Park, plus some tips to improve your handicapping and help raise your winning percentage. Belmont runs almost exclusively one-turn races on dirt at all distances, ranging from five to nine furlongs. Belmont Park’s 1 1/4-mile races and 1 1/2-mile dirt races are rare (except the Belmont Stakes [G1], of course), therefore a horse’s two-turn record is not as important as its one-turn record for the purposes of evaluating Belmont’s main track route races. Also, with almost no two-turn races, there is really little or no advantage to be gained by “saving ground” at Belmont on the main track. Gaining, gathering, and maintaining momentum is more important, even if it is on the outside. In terms of running styles, always assume the prevailing main track bias at Belmont will favor speed horses and front runners or pressers. The preferred running style favors horses able to stay within 2 1/2 lengths of the early pace in sprints, and within four lengths of the early pace in routes. Six-furlong races and all shorter races are most likely to favor inside posts at Belmont, with a slight preference to inside posts also at 6 1/2 furlongs too. That inside post advantage tends to disappear at seven furlongs, and actually begins to reverse at one mile, 1 1/16 miles and 1 1/8 miles. In those one-turn route races, the far inside posts offer no advantage, with some horses actually at a disadvantage from down inside unless they have early speed and can charge out to the front and get off the rail. Of course, nothing beats a good old horse-for-the-course when handicapping Belmont dirt races. Belmont Park’s main track, “Big Sandy,” is a dramatically different surface from the dirt track at Saratoga or Aqueduct. Certain horses love the Belmont dirt surface and others cannot do their best running there. Part of this preference has to do with the track surface, and some also has to do with the track layout with Belmont’s wide sweeping turns and one-turn routes helping some horses and hurting others. Oftentimes the New York dirt horses who arrive back at Belmont in the fall with the best form from Saratoga are horses who were excelling, in part, thanks to their preference for two-turn dirt route races at Saratoga. However, this factor flip-flops at Belmont, away from the two-turn specialists who excelled at Saratoga and towards the one-turn horses who like the routes at Belmont. Additionally, horses who like 1 1/8 miles do well at Saratoga, and those horses lose at Belmont to horses who prefer one mile or 1 1/16 miles but couldn’t run those distances upstate. Belmont Turf Racing Trends On the Belmont turf, both the inner turf and the outer turf courses are big, wide, and fair, and feature long stretch runs. Outside turf posts are a concern between one mile and 1 1/8 miles, but less so at other distances. Horses breaking from the far outside in one-mile races and 1 1/16-mile races can be most negatively affected by outside posts. At one mile on the Widener turf course, posts 8-12 should be expected to win for about a combined 5% at a mile, while posts 9-12 should win about 6% at 1 1/16-miles. On the inner turf course at 1 1/16 miles, horses from posts 8 and outward also can be expected to win only about 5% at a time. At 1 1/8 miles, posts 8 and out may win only about 7%. Downgrade horses drawn in posts 8-12 at one mile on the Widener turf course, and downgrade horses drawn 9-12 at 1 1/16 miles on the Widener. On the inner turf course, downgrade horses from posts 8 and outward in races at 1 1/16 miles and 1 1/8 miles. Belmont’s six-furlong and seven-furlong turf sprints are a whole different ballgame than at Saratoga. Speed horses who were successful in Saratoga’s 5 1/2-furlong turf sprints often underperform at the Belmont fall meet at low prices. Closers and stalkers and pace-pressers, meanwhile, have an opportunity to do much better at Belmont, especially if they draw post positions toward the outside. These horses didn’t have enough real estate to work with at Saratoga. Turf sprint post positons are important too. The inside turf sprint posts are tough at Saratoga, and outside draws are advantageous. Bet horses who lost from the Saratoga turf sprint rail post when they run back at Belmont. When it rains, the inner turf typically dries out faster than the outer course, so always try to keep that in mind when evaluating horses that prefer good, yielding, or soft turf. ***** I hope these tips, angles, and trends give you an edge at the betting windows for a successful and enjoyable 2019 Belmont Fall Championship meet. Focusing on some significant Belmont handicapping quirks, as well as the differences between Belmont Park and the summer racing at Saratoga, can help you pick more winners this fall. Best of luck! PHOTO: Belmont Park (c) Adam Coglianese Photography/Susie Raisher