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2020 Belmont Stakes Preview: Tap It To Win Is More Than Just A Name

2020 Belmont Stakes Preview: Tap It To Win Is More Than Just A Name

In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, the sports world came to a grinding halt. Instead of watching the NBA playoffs and sizing up the contenders heading into MLB’s All-Star break, punters have been relegated to golf, Korean baseball games and, as always, horse racing.

Horse racing will be in the limelight Saturday, with the running of the 152nd Belmont Stakes.

Just as the crisis has altered the lives of so many now and in the foreseeable future, it has also precipitated change in the order of Triple Crown races. The Belmont is being run first and at the distance of a mile and an eighth, instead of the traditional mile and a half. The length of the other Triple Crown legs remains the same. Critics of the usually grueling race, who claimed the allegedly excessive distance unnecessarily thwarted several Triple Crown winners, now get their wish.

For all of those gamblers who want to beef up their DraftKings (NASDAQ: DKNG) accounts, here is a look at the contenders, along with some wagering scenarios.

The 2020 Belmont Contenders

The once-predicted chalk, Bob Baffert’s Charlatan will not be running due to an ankle injury. Charlatan was a runaway winner in a heat of the Arkansas Derby, which has produced many winners of Triple Crown races.

By default, that will make Tiz the Law, an impressive winner of the Florida Derby, the favorite. This colt will likely go off at even money or slightly better odds, to win. Being a wagerer who tends to avoid favorites to win, I will likely include the 3-year-old in some perfecta and trifecta wagers.

Although he’s the favorite, Tiz the Law’s long three-month layoff since winning the Florida Derby has had his normal training regimen disrupted. If Tiz the Law is indeed rusty out of the gate, who are the potential longshots to win?

The 2020 Belmont Longshots

Lightly raced, but with some impressive wins, is Max Player. New York native Linda Rice, who is very familiar with the local racing circuit, has been prepping the horse for this race. In his New York debut race in February, he defeated a talented field by winning the Grade 3 Withers Stakes at Aqueduct Racetrack by more than three lengths. In winning the race he displayed impressive speed, which may bode well for the altered distance.

If looking for consistency in your pick, Sole Volante is the choice for you. In his six career outings, he has won four and never finished out of the money.

The bargain colt, who was purchased for only $20,000 by his trainer, Patrick Biancone, has been prepping at Tampa Bay Downs. He became a contender when he took the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis by 2 1/4 lengths and followed that with a runner-up finish in the Tampa Bay Derby.

Tap It To Win: More Than A Name?

While only amateurs bet on a horse because of its name, that's not the only reason my choice is Tap It To Win. My reasons involve speed, breeding, trainer, jockey and post position.

Although the pony hasn't faced as much tough competition as many of the other contenders have, he is fast. On June 4 at Belmont Park he won an allowance race, where he clocked the 1 1/16 race only 0.54 seconds slower than the revered track record.

His sire, Tapit, was the top-ranked sire in North America from 2014-2016 and is still highly successful. He also sired back-to-back Belmont Stakes winners in 2016 and 2017.

His trainer, Mark Casse, saddled the 2019 Belmont Stakes winner, Sir Winston. His veteran jockey, John Velazquez, is also familiar with the winner’s circle at Belmont Park; Velazquez won the race with Rag To Riches in 2007 and Union Rags in 2012.

Finally, in only a nine-horse field, post position is not nearly as important as with a larger field, but history is on my side: a wide margin of the most Belmont Stakes winners have come from the 1 starting post.

In order for Tap It To Win to be victorious, he will need to get out front, stay there and hold on in the stretch, which breaking from the rail should facilitate.


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