Belmont Stakes 2012: Betting Strategy

More: Latest Belmont odds are here.

The scratch of Derby and Preakness winner I'll Have Another leaves a big hole in the betting for the 2012 Belmont Stakes. Dullahan is your new morning line favorite at odds of 9/5, with Union Rags and Paynter the second and third choice on the board.

There are a couple of different strategies that players can employ to try and make some decent money on the Belmont. The first is simply playing the long shot horses to win. As pointed out by Andrew Beyer at the Daily Racing Form, had a player put a $2 win bet on every horse to run in the Belmont in the last 15 years, they would have doubled their money over the last ten years. Those are pretty remarkable numbers and the direct result of a parade of big priced horses winning the Belmont in 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2006, 2004 and 2002. In all seven of those years the winning horses paid a minimum of $25 for a $2 win bet.

If just placing random bets on the longest shots on the tote board doesn't appeal to you, the exotic wagers offer an opportunity to generate value off of your actual handicapping opinions. Since 2000, the median $2 exacta payout at the Belmont is a robust $130, which is incredibly strong. Even the years where a low priced horses has won the race, the exata has still paid in the$30 to $40 range. If you like Dullahan to win, you could play an exacta with the favorite on top and a couple of the mid-price horses underneath. And then as protection for an upset, you could play the reverse for a smaller amount. Below is an example of what an exacta play with Dullahan as the key horse might look like:

$10 Exacta: Dullahan over Paynter and Street Life (Total cost: $20)
$5 Exacta: Paynter and Street Life over Dullahan (Total cost: $10)

In the above scenario, the player has $30 in bets with the majority of his money on the combination with Dullahan in the win position. You always want to bet your strongest opinion for the most money, and your weaker or "back-up" tickets for smaller amounts.



The above wagers would pay out in the following situations:

  • If Dullahan were to win and Paynter finishes second, the player has the exacta for $10, or 5 times the $2 base.
  • If Dullahan were to win and Street Life finishes second, the player has the exacta for $10, or 5 times the $2 base.
  • If Paynter were to win and Dullahan finishes second, the player has the exacta for $5, or 2.5 times the $2 base.
  • If Street Life were to win and Dullahan finishes second, the player has the exacta for $5, or 2.5 times the $2 base.
  • If either Paynter or Street Life win and one of those same two horses finishes second, the player would not hold a winning ticket.

The player is vulnerable in the situation where Dullahan doesn't finish in the top 2 but this strategy is relying on a player's opinions, not simply hoping for a lucky finish. You could "box" all three horses in a $2 exacta which would ensure that you'd hold the winning ticket as long as any two of the three finish first and second. But boxing tends to increase the cost of the bet AND it prevents the player from wagering different amounts on different combinations (like the example above).

The strategy utilized above can be extrapolated to trifectas, perfectas and daily doubles. The goal, as always, is to have your bets working for your strongest opinions.

At the end of the day the most important piece of wagering strategy is this: if you have a strong opinion, play it for the most money.

Below is a chart summarizing the median, high and low payouts for various wagers at the Belmont Stakes since 2000.

Bet Median High Low
$2 Win $26.90 $142.50 $4.30
$2 Exacta $130.00 $2,454.00 $20.60
$2 Trifecta $1,007.50 $25,209.00 $67.50
$2 Super $10,658.00 $145,334.00 $183.50
$1 Pick3 $1,288.50 $3,237.50 $42.00
$1 Pick4 $3,654.50 $17,143.50 $135.50
$2 Pick6 $20,530.00 $969,345.00 $900.00
$2 DD $152.50 $1,988.00 $16.00
$2 Brklyn/Bel DD $383.00 $550.00 $20.20

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