The 2020 Belmont Stakes will be in the unusual position of opening the Triple Crown racing season instead of closing it. The Third Jewel, for the first time in its illustrious history, will serve as the series' first event when "The Run for the Carnations" goes down this Saturday, June 20 (5:42 p.m. ET post time on NBC) in Elmont, N.Y.
With the Kentucky Derby (Sept. 5) and Preakness (Oct. 3) moved back late from their usual Saturdays in May, the Belmont Stakes arrives only on a two-week delay from its originally scheduled June 6 date. In addition to the COVID-19 pandemic causing a big schedule adjustment in relation to the other two races, the Belmont Stakes also goes from the longest Triple Crown race (usually 1 1/2 miles or 12 furlongs) to the shortest (1 1/8 mile or 9 furlongs)
Taking a look at all the three-year-old thoroughbreds competing, here's breaking down the pedigree, odds and the best bets for the marquee action at Belmont Park:
Belmont Stakes horses 2020
Here's a snapshot of the 10 horses in the field for the first leg of the Triple Crown, including who's riding them and who trains them:
Tap It To Win
Tiz The Law
Irad Ortiz Jr.
Ricardo Santana Jr.
Belmont Stakes odds
Here's another look at all the horses ranked by their latest odds from Sports Insider and how those compare to their initial morning line odds at Belmont Park:
Morning line odds
Tiz The Law
Tap It To Win
Why is Tiz The Law such a heavy favorite?
Tiz The Law stamped his status as the favorite for the Kentucky Derby had it been run on May 2 by speeding to victory in the Florida Derby on March 28. With the Grade 1 race at Gulfstream Park also being 1 1/8 miles, it makes sense Tiz The Law keeps that same vibe for the Belmont Stakes.
Tiz The Law has shown great instincts with his deliberate pace early in races before picking the right time to hit his fastest gear and pull away. It's appropriate that his first Triple Crown race is in New York, given he's both locally owned by Sackatoga Stable and bred by Twin Creeks Farm.
HIs 82-year-old trainer, Barclay Tagg, once had a dominant popular horse in Funny Cide, who won both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness in 2003. Based on the impressive results that include four wins in five races, Tagg has conditioned Tiz The Law to be able to win with different styles from different posts.
Is Tap It To Win the biggest threat to upset Tiz The Law?
Tap It To Win has good recent experience at Belmont Park having just won the Allowance (1 1/16 miles) on June 4. Tap It To Win relies on starting fast and wouldn't surprise anyone if he had the early lead on Saturday. The question is whether, even with the shorter distance, whether he can hold up until the end with Tiz The Law working to leave a lot in the tank for the stretch.
Sole Volante might be a better choice for the upset as the opposite kind of horse. He needs to stay in it early because he is strength is closing. Neither horse is as well-rounded as Tiz The Law, but a big burst somewhere could end up paying off.
Going deep into the field, Dr Post can give Tiz The Law some trouble right next to him at No. 9 if he can stay with him halfway through the race. Max Player and Farmington Road are the true longshots to watch, however.
Max Player won the Grade 3 Withers, a 1 1/8-mile race at Aqueduct when he last raced on Feb. 1. Linda Rice, who is attempting to become the first female trainer to win the Belmont Stakes, has worked to make him feel at home on the track. Max Player is ridden by Joel Rosario, who won a much longer Belmont Stakes with Sir Winston last year.
Farmington Road needs a fast, tight race but those would be ideal conditions for him to shock everyone after coming in fourth in the 1 1/8-mile Arkansas Derby on May 2.
Which post position is the most favorable in the Belmont Stakes?
Tiz The Law is trying to change a long-standing trend from No. 8, which has produced only 5 past winners. No. 1 has by far produced the most winners, at 23, which is an obvious boost to the chances of Tap It To Win.
Then come No. 3 and No. 5, tied for 13 winners each, playing well into the upset chances of Max Player and Farmington Road. No. 2 has been rather effective between two favorable spots, producing 11 winners and providing some hope for Sole Volante.
Two years ago, Triple Crown winner Justify came through from No. 1. Sir Winston made it work with the middle from No. 7 last year.
Which trainers have had the best Belmont Stakes success?
Mark Casse, who trained Sir Winston for his first victory, builds a stronger case for Tap It To Win. Todd Pletcher, a three-time Belmont Stakes winner, has both Farmington Road and Dr Post in the mix. The only other trainer with a Belmont victory is Steve Asmussen with Creator in 2016, but he has two shaky entries in Pneumatic and the overwhelmed Jungle Runner.
Which jockeys have had the best Belmont Stakes success?
While Manny Franco and Tagg are both looking for their first wins with Tiz The Law, there's some good experience elsewhere. Before Sir Winston, Rosario also won with Tonalist in 2014. John Velazquez is looking to make it three with Tap It To Win, after victories with Union Rags in 2012 and Rags to Riches in 2007.
Jose Ortiz is going for the big upset with Fore Left after bringing home Tapwrit in 2017. HIs brother, Irad Ortiz Jr., won for Asmussen with Creator and is trying to do the same for Pletcher with Dr Post.
Belmont Stakes picks
With the Belmont Stakes replacing the Kentucky Derby as the first Triple Crown race and the Preakness as the shortest one, it sets up for a predictable result and no surprise on top, especially with the extra time to rest and prepare.
Tiz The Law has everything in his favor, with the right speed for the right length. Max Player is set up to sneakily emerge as a real challenger until right near the end. Tap It To Win will build enough momentum early to make sure he will at least settle for third.
Win: Tiz The Law
Place: Max Player
Show: Tap It To Win