Seth Wenig/Associated Press
Finally, the beginning of the Triple Crown season is upon us.
Horse racing fans are long overdue for a Triple Crown race—usually by the middle of June, all three have been completed.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic has halted all major sports since mid-March, meaning both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes were postponed from their typical May dates to Sept. 5 and Oct. 3, respectively.
That makes Saturday’s Belmont Stakes the opening leg of the Triple Crown for the first time in history.
Even though fans will be blessed with a race to watch, they won’t be able to attend because Belmont Park is closed to spectators. The race is also being run at a shorter length—1⅛ miles instead of 1½.
The 2020 Belmont Stakes will be the first major sporting event in New York since New York City became the epicenter of the pandemic in the U.S.
Eric Kalet @erickalet
The first major sporting event in New York of 2020 is tomorrow and will be conducted without fans in attendance. For the first time in history, the Belmont Stakes is the first leg of Horse Racing’s Triple Crown. Strange times indeed in the era of covid19. #TripleCrown https://t.co/E0wJY9UcBL
Here’s a last-minute overview of everything you need to know for the race.
2020 Belmont Stakes Information
Date: Saturday, June 20
Post Time: 5:42 p.m. ET
Live Stream: New York Racing Association YouTube Channel, NBC Sports app
Post Positions and Betting Odds (per Vegas Insider)
1: Tap It To Win (6-1)
2: Sole Volante (9-2)
3: Max Player (15-1)
4: Modernist (15-1)
5: Farmington Road (15-1)
6: Fore Left (30-1)
7: Jungle Runner (50-1)
8: Tiz The Law (6-5)
9: Dr Post (5-1)
10: Pneumatic (8-1)
It’s no surprise that on the day of the race itself, Tiz The Law remains the overwhelming favorite to make a trip to the winner’s circle and be the only horse in contention for the Triple Crown.
On top of that, the New York-bred horse will have more than two months to train before he has to race in the second leg of the series on September 5:
“If he can win this race, we are going to have almost two-and-a-half months with having the only horse with a chance to win the Triple Crown,” operating manager of Sackatoga Stable Jack Knowlton said, according to The Times Union‘s Tim Wilkin. “That, I would very much like to see happen.”
Even Sole Volante’s trainer, Patrick Biancone, thinks the race is Tiz The Law’s to lose, saying “he is the best three-year-old in the country right now” to Wilkin on the phone Friday.
Tiz The Law is the only Grade 1 winner in the group, and he easily handled the field at the Florida Derby. He has won four of his five career starts in effortless fashion, and he hasn’t seemed to showcase any real struggles. A sloppy third-place finish in November at the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) is the three-year-old’s only loss.
While Barclay Tagg’s horse may be the favorite, there are a few others that may be able to give him a run for his money.
Sole Volante, Dr Post and Tap It To Win all have the abilities to make a run at Tiz The Law.
Dr Post is a closer with the speed to secure a last-minute victory and is being ridden by 27-year-old jockey Irad Ortiz Jr., who has experience tasting victory at the Belmont Stakes.
Tap It To Win also has experience on his side with trainer Mark Casse, who won two of three Triple Crown races in 2019—the Preakness with War of Will and the Belmont with Sir Winston.
The son of Tapit notched a five-length win at Belmont on June 5 in a 1 1/16-mile race, and he may just be able to add another one to his belt coming out of the No. 1 post position, which has produced the most wins at the Belmont Stakes.
Sole Volante has risen in the ranks to have the second-best odds in the race.
“I think he’s a closer,” Andie Biancone, assistant trainer for her father and Sole Volante’s co-owner, told the New York Racing Association (h/t Paulick Report). “With a lot of speed in the race, hopefully he can sit back comfortably and pick his route from there. Also, this is the best he’s ever been right now, both fitness-wise and mentally.”
Pete Denk @petedenk
Sole Volante is my favorite Group Herd Dynamic closer in the race. He is bred for turf, but I love how he moves over dirt. If the pace collapses late, he could be the one. Trainer Biancone is a talented horsemen with a checkered past. Hopefully his training can travel beyond Fla.
The thoroughbred is riding high off a win June 10 at Gulfstream Park in Florida over a few Kentucky Derby hopefuls, but he has his work cut out for him to beat Tiz The Law.
Expect Tiz The Law to add another win to his resume and continue training the next few months for the Kentucky Derby on Sept. 5.