Playing the Ponies

5 keys to betting on the Belmont Stakes

The Belmont Stakes will cap off this year's Triple Crown, which will go down as one of the most controversial and eventually disappointing three races in a long time. But there is still money to be made, so here are five ways to approach the race. My horse-by-horse analysis is here. My premium plays are available at Historically the Belmont is where we do our best work in the Triple Crown. It is the longest of the Triple Crown races, and it takes a good combination of stamina and speed. Most of these horses will never run this far again.

1) Hard to get around the favorites

Tacitus, one of our Derby horses, will be the favorite after finishing fourth in that race on a track he hated. He has classic distance breeding, a good running style for the distance and has all the qualities you look for in a Belmont winner. He is also 9-5. War of Will, who dominated the Preakness and is very tough at his best, is 2-1. Both horses should be significant factors. That makes it more difficult to put together a decent score. However, when faced with this scenario, you look for long shots in the trifectas, and that is how we will approach the race.

2) About those long shots...

There are three that are intriguing. Master Fencer was seventh in the Derby, but the Japanese horse was beaten just four lengths and was finishing very strongly. His style should suit Belmont, and Japanese horses tend to run well everywhere. He was not elite in Japan, but let's face it, this field isn't either. He could surprise at a big price. We were all-in on Bourbon War in the Preakness and he took us all out by finishing eighth. He really had no excuse that day other than maybe the long layoff got to him. We will give him one more chance to reward our faith. Sir Winston already has a nice effort over the surface and always seems to show up at a big price.

3) The next tier

Everfast was second in the Preakness, but that effort came out of nowhere and horses that don't run in the Derby, then run well in the Preakness tend to falter in the Belmont. Intrepid Heart is a regally bred, lightly raced colt who could improve. Joevia should be the pace setter, and that is a big advantage in longer races, because he will likely get the lead all to himself and could last a long time. All of these could be bottom factors in the trifectas.

4) So how do we play it? 

I like exacta and trifecta boxes with the two favorites plus Master Fencer and Bourbon War. I also like the idea of keying the two favorites on top and in second with the long shots we like and as many horses as possible in third.

I also like the idea of playing the two long shots - Bourbon War and Master Fencer, across the board.

On the undercard, I like some long shots to throw in your wagers:

Race 8: No. 8 Hog Creek Hustle

Race 9: No. 5 Tale of Silence

Race 10: No 4 Qurban.

5) Keep an eye on the surface

As of today, they are expecting nice weather at Belmont so everything is handicapped for a fast track. Should that prove wrong, check back on Twitter as I will likely change some plays. Good luck and let's finish this year strong.

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You feel that? Can you hear it? Do you smell it? Are you able to taste it? Take a minute to absorb the atmosphere and get back to me in a sec…NOW are you getting it? No? It's the season we all know and loathe: Lying Season! Lying Season AKA NFL draft season is definitely upon us. Fans are getting upset with the media because they're “putting out false info,” but won't get mad at the teams they love for putting the info out there for the media to report. Where do you think the media gets their info from? I addressed some of this the last couple columns I wrote on Texans draft rumors, and mock drafts.

My main gripe about Lying Season are the fans who believe the hype. Some get so upset, they'll do and say crazy things when opposing sources report opposing things about their team. When reports came out about the Texans potentially trading, not drafting a QB, or drafting a QB at number two overall, people became unglued! The “build around the defense” crowd were ecstatic and salivating at getting a pass rusher. The “trade back” crowd were happy because they want to acquire more picks in order to continue building. The “QB at two or bust” crowd was not happy at all, especially when these reports coincided with reports of Bryce Young being Carolina's pick at number one.

While Young is widely considered the best QB in the draft, C.J. Stroud, Will Levis, and Anthony Richardson are the other QBs expected to go in the first round. Some think these guys will all be gone in the top half of the first round. All have traits and skills I like. Stroud is a proven winner with prototypical size, a good arm, and above average athleticism. Levis has prototypical size, a cannon for an arm, and good athleticism. Richardson is built like a tank, big arm, and off the charts athleticism. Stroud seems like the safest of the three. Levis has some concerns. Richardson is the most intriguing. But what if the Texans go in a different direction?

Tennessee QB Hendon Hooker could be who the Texans are targeting

Let's say the “build around the defense” and “trade back” crowds both win. What if Texans take best defensive player available at number two, then trade back out of number 12 to acquire more picks, but still address QB at a different time in the draft? It could be in the backend of the first round, second round, or even later. Hendon Hooker was a former first round prospect and leader for the Heisman before his ACL injury this past season. What if there's another guy like Clayton Tune or Jaren Hall that they like that can be drafted in the mid to later rounds? What if they want to make a run at trading for a guy they like? Mac Jones? Trey Lance?

The possibilities are endless. So are the frustrations. What I ultimately recommend to folks is to enjoy the ride as much as possible. Don't get too hung up on what conflicting reports say or don't say. If they take an alternative route to addressing QB, let's focus on the guys they're drafting to make this team better. With as many holes as this team still has, best player available at every pick is exciting. There are not many positions that they'll draft in which the rookie won't at least have a chance to compete for time. QB is the most important position on the field and the organization knows this. They'll address it when they feel they have the right target in mind, along with the means to get said target. For now, woosah and try to enjoy the buildup to the season finale of Lying Season.

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