Scully: How I’m playing the Belmont Stakes

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June 19th, 2020

Tiz the Law has been pegged at 6-5 on the morning line for Saturday’s $1 million Belmont Stakes (G1), the first leg of the 2020 Triple Crown, but 1-2 odds are probably more realistic by post time. He’s the lone Grade 1 winner in the 10-horse field, winning the Champagne (G1) at Belmont Park last fall and the March 28 Florida Derby (G1) in his latest outing, and the Barclay Tagg-trained colt drew perfectly in post 8.

He opened the year with a facile tally in the Holy Bull (G3) at Gulfstream Park, netting a 108 Brisnet Speed rating that towers over Saturday’s competition. Only three rivals have managed to reach the triple-digit threshold so far. Tiz the Law could not run back to the same number while posting a 4 1/4-length decision in the Florida Derby (receiving a 100 Speed figure), but I came away impressed by the maturity displayed.

Tiz the Law overpowered the competition winning three of his first four starts, but the New York-bred son of Constitution never experienced a clean trip and would drift in during the stretch run of all his wins. That loomed as a potential liability down the road, but Tiz the Law turned a proverbial corner in the Florida Derby. Jockey Manny Franco never got stopped in traffic, or had to angle his mount out of a difficult spot, and Tiz the Law ran straight through the Florida Derby stretch while drawing away magnificently.

So how do we bet the Belmont Stakes? Multi-race wagers are one avenue. Carded as the 10TH race, the Belmont Stakes is included in pair of Pick 5, one beginning in the 6TH race and the other in the 8TH race, and I will single Tiz the Law. I will employ the same strategy for the Pick 3s surrounding the Belmont Stakes, but play those for bigger denominations than the Pick 5.

As far as in-race wagers, Tiz the Law offers no appeal for straight bets as an overwhelming favorite, but I will key him in the exacta over two horses of interest.

Farmington Road is a slow-starting type, but he’s gained valuable experience making his last three starts against stakes rivals at 1 1/8 miles. He appears to have cranked up his training in the 49-day interim since the Arkansas Derby (G1), recording a couple of swift moves for three-time Belmont Stakes winner Todd Pletcher, and the late runner is eligible to receive a favorable setup with Tap It to Win and Fore Left going at it from the break. I like him the best of the off-the-pace runners.

Pneumatic opened his career this year with a couple of nice wins at Oaklawn Park, defeating solid rivals both times, and received a tough rail post when making his stakes debut in the May 23 Matt Winn (G3) at Churchill Downs. That forced Ricardo Santana Jr.’s hand, and the Uncle Mo colt took pressure from Ny Traffic from the get-go. Maxfield proved too tough in the stretch for the front-runners, but Pneumatic never quit trying finishing a close third. He draws outside for his second stakes appearance Saturday, and I can envision a perfect stalking trip just off the pace. Pneumatic is eligible to keep moving forward for Steve Asmussen with a strong showing.

Belmont Wagers

  • $25 Exactas: 8 over 5,10 ($50)