Lessons Learned Betting the 2019 Belmont Stakes

With the 2019 Triple Crown chase behind us, congrats if you hit one or two of the classics.

And if you correctly picked all three of the Triple Crown winners, you deserve a tip of the hat – and dinner should be on you. With winners at odds of 65-1, 6-1 and 10-1 it was quite an impressive feat to come up with Country House, War of Will, and Sir Winston in succession.

Yet, for handicappers who wagered on exotic wagers culminating in the Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets, there was an MVP (Most Valuable Pick) for the $2 bettor.

While those bettors with big pockets or those involved in expensive syndicates would have preferred to have longshots triumph in all of the races leading up to the Triple Crown, each of three had a similar lead-in to the main events. All three races were preceded by a turf stakes that was won by the favorite.

At Churchill Downs and Belmont Park, it was Bricks and Mortar winning at prices of $4.20 and $3.30, while Catholic Boy prevailed at Pimlico, paying $4.80.

As a result, with a solid favorite in the mix, the sequence wagers like the Pick 3 and Pick 4 had what was basically a free spot, reducing the challenge by one race.

Looking at the Belmont Stakes results in regards to the Pick 3, Sir Winston was the co-fourth choice at 10-1, sharing that price with two other starters. That meant you might have needed to go six deep in the Belmont Stakes, which was a steep number that could have sent the cost of Pick 3 soaring through the roof – unless you singled Bricks and Mortar in the middle leg.

To start the sequence, there was a fabulous edition of the Runhappy Metropolitan Handicap. The victory went to Mitole, who was the second choice at 7-2.

So, in theory, a winning ticket could have been constructed with a 2 x 1 x 6 pattern. That meant for $24 you could have collected $295 or $271 in profit.

Now in the Pick 4, the longshot players had their moment in the sun. Hog Creek Hustle, at 18-1, opened the sequence by winning the Woody Stephens as the eighth choice in the wagering.

That led to an expensive ticket but a golden reward. Built in an 8 x 2 x 1 x 6 fashion, the ticket would have cost $192 using $2 tickets but the payoff was a sensational $8,472.

There was even an option for the $2 bettor. By buying 50-cent tickets, the cost could have been cut to $48 which still paid off to the tune of a ritzy $2,118, which left $2,070 in profit.

The lesson here, repeated from the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, is that rather than avoid a favorite in a sequence wager, there are times when embracing the low odds in one race will give you the options you need to include a few extra longshots in a less predictable race and open the door to a huge payoff.