Home Sports Horse racing odds: Introduction to Saratoga, best bets for Belmont Park

Horse racing odds: Introduction to Saratoga, best bets for Belmont Park

by Atlanta Business Journal

By Andy Serling
FOX Sports Horse Racing Analyst

With the Triple Crown races in the rearview mirror, bettors are gearing up for the second half of the season which officially kicked off last weekend. 

Belmont Stakes winner Mo Donegal is out for the rest of the year with minor issues, but trainer Todd Pletcher will still be on the competitive circuit. 

Pletcher served notice that he’ll still be a factor in the big 3-year-old races. We saw this firsthand when his horse Charge It won the Dwyer Stakes by 23 lengths. Can Charge It be a factor at Saratoga, too?

Let’s jump into what is on the horizon on the racing front.

The Saratoga race meet — kicking off on July 14 and running through Labor Day — is the premier 40-day event in the country. The races attract an average attendance of more than 25,000 daily spectators and running the track are some of the best horses in training. Highlights of these incredible eight weeks include the Travers Stakes, the Jim Dandy and the Whitney Stakes. Plain and simple, this is horse racing at its very best. And if you can’t make it to upstate NY, watch Saratoga Live on FOX Sports every racing day to follow in on the action. 

At Saratoga, we can expect to see Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike, Preakness winner Early Voting, Derby and Preakness runner-up Epicenter, Derby third-place finisher Zandon, Jack Christopher and, of course, Charge It. So while no other competition matches the pomp and circumstance of the Kentucky Derby, a race featuring all those horses is worth waiting for. So mark your calendars.

On Aug. 6, the Whitney Stakes will likely feature a matchup of Life is Good and Olympiad, currently two of the top older horses in the country. Early Voting, Zandon and Jack Christopher are trained by Chad Brown, and Brown is a heavy favorite to be leading trainer after his record-setting Belmont Park meet. 

Irad Ortiz, however, hopes to regain the riding title over last year’s winner, Luis Saez. Overall, Saratoga features some of the best riders in the world, so fans are in for a treat regardless of which rider comes out on top.

Admittedly, while we’re all anticipating either heading upstate or at least watching the races, I shouldn’t jump the gun. There’s still one more weekend of racing at Belmont Park before Saratoga. 

Saturday will feature the first legs of our Turf Triple races. There is one race for colts, one for fillies and all races are run on the grass. Both races, for purses of $1 million and $700,000, respectively, will be run at 1 ¼ miles and will feature top horses from the United States and Europe. When we talk about races, we got to make some picks right? So, let’s try to make some money before heading to Saratoga.

The Belmont Derby, for the boys, is led by Stone Age and Nations Pride. Both have raced exclusively in Europe and are trained by two of the leading trainers in the world, Aiden O’Brien and Charles Appleby respectively. The horses are ridden by world-class riders Ryan Moore and Frankie Dettori. 

While they appear to be the favorites, I will try to beat them with another European, the less highly regarded Royal Patronage, who will be ridden by champion American rider Joel Rosario. I will bet on him to win, and box exactas with Stone Age, Nations Pride and U.S.-based runner Tiz the Bomb — unraced since finishing ninth in the Kentucky Derby and grass is his preferred surface.

BELMONT DERBY PICKS

#8 Royal Patronage to win

Exacta boxes 8-9, 8-10 and 8-13

In the filly counterpart, the Belmont Oaks, European runner Concert Hall, trained by O’Brien — who won two of the last four runnings of this race — and ridden by Ryan Moore, is the horse to beat.

However, I like With The Moonlight, which is trained by Appleby and ridden by Dettor, to win. I believe the American runners have a better chance in this race than in the Belmont Derby, and prefer McKulick, one of three runners in the race trained by Brown (who has won the race five times). Four-time champion rider Irad Ortiz has the mount, which is always a plus.

I will bet With The Moonlight to win and box her in exactas with Concert Hall and McKulick.

BELMONT OAKS PICKS

#4 With The Moonlight to win

Exacta boxes 4-10 and 4-1

Like many horseplayers and racing fans, I’m counting the minutes until Saratoga opens next week. That won’t stop me from attacking the Belmont races this coming weekend. Jump aboard and enjoy the ride!

Andy Serling is the Senior Racing Analyst for the New York Racing Association (NYRA) and appears regularly on America’s Day at the Races/Saratoga Live on FOX Sports. He also analyzes the races daily on Talking Horses on the NYRA simulcast network among other duties covering Saratoga, Belmont and Aqueduct. In his slightly more respectable days, he traded options on the now-defunct American Stock Exchange. Follow him on Twitter @andyserling.


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