The $1 million Belmont Derby comes a couple of days after the Fourth of July and in its brief, five-year history it has certainly produced a goodly amount of fireworks – at the betting windows.
A highlight of Saturday’s Stars and Stripes Racing Festival at Belmont Park, the 1 ¼-mile grass stakes for 3-year-olds has been the antithesis of a certain 1 ¼-mile stakes on dirt for 3-year-olds on the first Saturday in May. While the Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve had a streak of six straight winning favorites come to an end this year, the Belmont Derby has yet to have a winning favorite since its inception in 2014.
For longshot players, the Belmont Derby has been a nice holiday treat with all five winners generating a double-digit win payout.
The very first edition of the stakes provided some insight as to what was to come with Mr Speaker winning for trainer Shug McGaughey at 23-1 odds and paying $49 for a $2 win ticket.
After that came Force the Pass at 10-1, Deauville at 6-1, Oscar Performance at 5-1 and Catholic Boy at 5-1.
Meanwhile, the five betting favorites produced two seconds and three unplaced finishes, further illustrating how wide open the results have been over the last five years.
As for some other trends, look for horses with speed. Two of the five winners were on the lead after the opening half-mile. Another was second at that same point and one other was third. Mr Speaker was the lone closer as he rallied from 10th and last to take the inaugural edition.
Perhaps the most surprising note about the race is that trainer Chad Brown has yet to notch a victory in it. America’s premier turf trainer and three-time Eclipse Award winner has sent out eight starters, but to date has just a second and two thirds to his credit.
Conversely, Europe’s top trainer, Aidan O’Brien, has done quite well. From six starters, he won the 2016 edition with Deauville and also has a second and two thirds for a 66.7% in-the-money rate.