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Horse racing’s Triple Crown will finally get underway Saturday.
The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly disrupted the sport’s calendar across the spring and summer. The Belmont Stakes is traditionally the final leg in the Triple Crown but is instead this year’s curtain-raiser.
The Kentucky Derby was moved from May 2 to September 5, while the Preakness Stakes is delayed until October 3.
An additional two weeks is all fans had to wait for the Belmont Stakes, with the biggest change coming on the track. The New York Racing Association shortened the race from 1½ miles to 1⅛ miles.
Here’s the viewing info for today’s event.
When: Saturday, June 20, at 5:42 p.m. ET (coverage beginning at 2:45 p.m. ET)
Live Stream: NBCSports.com
Ten horses are registered for the Belmont Stakes. Tiz the Law is the heavy favorite and will run from the No. 8 gate.
Especially in shorter races, post position can often carry added significance. Too close to the rail and a horse might struggle to break free from the pack. Too far from the rail and he has to do extra work to make his way to the inside.
The size of the Belmont field should offset that impact, especially for Tiz the Law.
The three-year-old earned his first graded stakes race win last October and headed to Belmont Park following back-to-back victories in the Holy Bull and Florida Derby. His performance at Gulfstream Park, Florida, in March was particularly impressive as he cruised past Shivaree and Gouverneur Morris, two horses who looked like Belmont Stakes contenders.
Perhaps more notable than who’s running in the 2020 Belmont Stakes is who isn’t running.
The respective Arkansas Derby winners, Charlatan and Nadal, both removed themselves. A minor ankle injury ruled Charlatan out, while Nadal suffered a career-ending injury. Maxfield, who was victorious in the Matt Winn, is also eschewing the Belmont Stakes for the Blue Grass Stakes.
To call the 2020 Belmont Stakes a coronation for Tiz the Law would do a disservice to the other nine horses, but he’s far and away the strongest. NBC analyst Jerry Bailey called him “the best three-year-old in the country.”
“Tiz the Law has been the best three-year-old since January basically, and he remains that,” Bailey said to the Baltimore Sun‘s Childs Walker. “He would have been favored in whatever Triple Crown race we ran first, so we have a superstar that we’re going to see on Saturday.”
Anything other than a first-place finish will be a disappointment for Tiz the Law and trainer Barclay Tagg, who’s looking for his first Belmont Stakes win.