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Belmont Stakes handle falls sharply, down more than $10 million as of 2021

Posted: June 11, 2022, 10:13 a.m.

Last update: June 11, 2022, 10:16 a.m.

Betting on this year’s Belmont Stakes and the other 12 races held Saturday at Belmont Park has dropped significantly from last year, according to a statement from the New York Racing Association.

Mo Donegal Belmont
Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. turns to the crowd at Belmont Park on Saturday as he and Mo Donegal win the Belmont Stakes. Bets on the third leg of the Triple Crown have dropped 17% from last year’s race, setting a record for a Belmont with no Triple Crown in play. (Photo: Chelsea Durand/NYRA)

NYRA netted an all-source handful of $50.2 million for the third leg of the Triple Crown, about $10.3 million less or 17% less than the $60.5 million bet on last year’s race.

The Belmont Stakes was part of a 13-race card this year and last year. Just like the race to the marquee, the grip for the whole day has also decreased. After punters wagered $112.7 million last year – a Belmont Stakes Day record when a Triple Crown was not on the line – this year’s card drew an all-source handle of 98.8 million, a decline of 12.3%.

Like last year, no horse had the chance to become Triple Crown winners on Saturday. Mo Donegal won the race as the 5-2 favorite after the hour mark. Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike, who bypassed the Preakness, finished sixth.

Saturday’s race was the Belmont Stakes’ first race under normal conditions since the COVID-19 pandemic. It served as the first leg of the Triple Crown in 2020 and was cut from a quarter mile to 1-1/4 miles. Last year, COVID restrictions limited Belmont Park’s crowd to just 11,238 people.

On Saturday, 46,301 people attended the races. Over 90,000 fans have attended the race in recent years. However, the recently opened UBS Arena on the Long Island track has taken up much of the space where fans have congregated in the past. As a result, the NYRA has capped attendance this year at 50,000.

Lower handle probably due to smaller fields

After last month’s Kentucky Derby produced a record number of bets, the following innings both saw a drop in the handle. Three weeks ago, the Preakness Stakes fell 5% to $65.3 million, and the 14-race card at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore fell 8% to nearly $9 million, at $104.3 million.

Like the Belmont, the Preakness Stakes also reported a record high in 2021.

While the lack of Triple Crown drama has certainly played a role in the betting drop in the past two rounds, there are likely other reasons why the Belmont Stakes card has fallen as much as it has.

The small size of the fields may be the cause of part of the drop. The card featured nine stakes races, but those races included four entries in one race, five in three others, and six in another.

Mo Donegal claims Belmont stakes

Mo Donegal came to the Belmont after a fifth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby. However, the Wood Memorial winner had a much better trip this time around with Irad Ortiz Jr. on board.

The colt trained by Todd Pletcher came out on the last corner to take the lead and pull away. Mo Donegal took a three-length victory over Nest, a Pletcher-trained filly who overcame a slight stumble out of the gate.

Mike Repole, entrepreneur behind Vitaminwater and BODYARMOR beverages and a native of neighboring Queens, is co-owner of the top two horses.

It’s a 40-year dream. said Repole. “Coming to this track and Aqueduct, being a New York kid, is New York racing… It was the biggest goal of my racing life, and I just accomplished it and I raced 1 -2.”

Rich Strike started at the back of the pack as he did in the Derby five weeks ago. However, a slower pace on Saturday likely prevented him from making a charge on the stretch.

The Derby winner also didn’t stay inside like he did in Louisville. This choice led coach Eric Reed to question himself afterwards.

“Our biggest change was deciding to stay a bit off the rail and trying to give him a good open run where he could take off,” said Reed. “All the way his head was spinning and he tried to get inside. Guess we made a mistake not putting it on the fence.