Homeracing

The Belmont Stakes' luckiest (and unluckiest) draws

Profile Picture: Josh Powell

May 31st, 2021

We are less than a week away from the Belmont Stakes. Although we won’t be crowning a Triple Crown winner in New York this weekend, there is still plenty at stake including more than $530,000 for the winner.

The so-called "Test of the Champion" looks set to be another fiercely contested race with Hot Rod Charlie and Essential Quality in the likely line-up alongside Preakness Stakes winner Rombauer and the well fancied Rock Your World.

With such a competitive field set to line up, we examined the results from the last 100 years to see if post positions could help us determine this year's winner.

There’s Something Odd going on

The most notable thing over the last 100 years is more of a strange quirk rather than a significant trend, but for the superstitious bettors out there it would appear odd numbers have the advantage. In the last century, 68% of winners have been from odd numbered stalls compared to 32% from the even numbers.

Tiz The Law won from stall 8 last year, but he is just one of three horses to have won from an even number in the last decade, alongside Tapwrit from 2 in 2017, and Palace Malice from 12 in 2013.

It’s a strange phenomenon, but odd numbers appear to have the edge when it comes to the Belmont Stakes.

Number 1 is Number 1

Historically the most successful post position in the Belmont Stakes is stall 1. That draw has produced 17% of winners over the last 100 years – more than any other draw. Stall 1 had a real purple patch in the late 1960s and early 1970s, producing four of the seven winners with Damascus (1967), Arts and Letters (1969), Riva Ridge (1972), and Secretariat (1973). Although a dry spell is not uncommon…

After Secretariat won in 1973, there was almost two decades without a win from stall 1 until A.P. Indy got the job done in 1992, and was followed up soon after by Touch Gold in 1997.

There was another 21-year gap until 2018, when Justify obliged favorite backers to win from stall 1 and complete the Triple Crown.

The Drive for 5

Just behind stall 1 is stall 5, a position which has produced 15 winners in the last 100 years. In the last 50 years though it holds the advantage, having produced 14% of winners – more than any other position.

Bob Baffert’s Triple Crown winner American Pharoah was the last horse to win from draw 5 in 2015, just seven years after Da’ Tara won from that stall in 2008. That had ended a 27-year wait for a winner from stall 5 and a 37-year wait for a Triple Crown winner.

This position had its most success in the 1950s, though, as it was able to claim three winners on the spin with Native Dancer (1953), High Gun (1954), and Nashua (1955) all hitting the line in front from stall 5.

Seventh Heaven

If we just consider the last 25 years, however, the position to be in is stall 7, which has produced 16% of winners, including Sir Winston in 2019.

That win followed Drosselmeyer (2010), Rags to Riches (2007), and Editor’s Note (1996) to make stall 7 the most sought after in recent memory. The only position to not have a winner in the last 25 years is stall 10, which has been on a losing run ever since Thunder Gulch won in 1995.

Don’t Discount the Outside

While that run from position 10 is desperate, the outside has seen plenty of success in the last 25 years, with 32% of winners coming from stall 9 or higher.

Six of those eight wins have come from either 9 or 11, a nod towards the odd numbers yet again, with Creator winning by a nose from stall 13 in 2016, and Palace Malice winning from 12 in 2013.

Although stalls 10, 12 and 13 have only ever produced one winner of the Belmont Stakes each in the last 100 years, position 9 and 11 have seen plenty of recent success, so don’t be put off by a high draw.

There have been the same number of winners from stalls 9 and above that there have been from stalls 1 to 4 in the last 25 years.

Don’t Pick Six

The position you want to dodge, if possible, is stall 6.

In the last 100 years, the position has provided just six winners, the fewest of any draw 8 or lower. The losing run currently stands at 21 years, with longshot Lemon Drop Kid surprising the world in 1999 to win from this position at odds of almost 30-1.

Lemon Drop Kid aside, you must go all the way back to 1984 to find the last winner from stall 6 which was Swale, who won here after also winning the Kentucky Derby that year.

The best Position to Bet in the Belmont Stakes

Purely based on the draw, the trends suggest odd numbers are the way to go with particular focus on stall 1 and stall 7. Stall 1 is the most successful position in the last 100 years, while more recently it has paid to stick with 7.

Stall 5 and stall 3 have always been consistent and shouldn’t be overlooked, but it’s best to avoid stalls 10 and 6.

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