First, the $1 million Belmont Stakes unfolds Saturday, highlighting a major afternoon of elite-level racing. Post time is about 5:42 p.m.
Second, beginning Monday, spectators will be allowed at live sporting events in West Virginia. Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races announced the re-opening of the first floor of the grandstand for live racing and simulcast operations on June 22. The track runs a Thu-Sat schedule at 7 p.m.
Mountaineer Race Track, which runs Sunday-Tuesday at 7 p.m., did not make an immediate announcement, although it is likely to follow suit.
Belmont Stakes betting in West Virginia
Before that unfolds, the 152nd Belmont beckons on Saturday. It is a new, revamped race at 1 1-8 miles versus the standard 1 1-2 miles.
The event first ran in 1867 and is the oldest of the Triple Crown events. It is also one of the oldest stakes races in North America.
There will be no spectators, but there will be an avalanche of mobile sports betting in West Virginia and across the country.
The official post-position draw was held Wednesday afternoon and odds were established.
Here is the full field in post-position order with jockey and odds:
- Tap It To Win, John Velazquez, 6-1
- Sole Volante, Luca Panici, 9-2;
- Max Player, Joel Rosario, 15-1
- Modernist, Junior Alvarado, 15-1
- Farmington Road, Javier Castellano, 15-1
- Fore Left, Jose Ortiz, 30-1
- Jungle Runner, Reylu Gutierrez, 50-1
- Tiz the Law, Manny Franco, 6-5
- Dr. Post, Irad Ortiz Jr., 5-1
- Pneumatic, Ricardo Santana, 8-1
Belmont Stakes handicapping highlights
Tiz the Law is the Florida Derby winner and has looked impressive in his short career. He’s the 6-5 chalk by virtue of winning the highest-level race this year.
The Florida Derby winner has produced three of the last four Kentucky Derby champions, including Nyquist, Always Dreaming and Maximum Security. Although Maximum Security suffered a controversial disqualification for alleged interference last year, he initially crossed the finish line first.
Sole Volante won a June 10 allowance race at Gulfstream Park with a furious rally from last to first. Initially considered a longshot, he has become the second favorite at 9-2.
The question is whether he can afford to wait in the back of the pack as he did that day and if he can return 10 days after a win. Nonetheless, he beat the same horses Tiz the Law did earlier.
Trainer Mark Casse won the Belmont Stakes last year with Sir Winston and will look to repeat with Tap It To Win.
A big angle for Tap It To Win is having a victory at the track. He likes the one-turn layout of this race and could run a strong one.
Dr. Post overcame extreme traffic problems to gut out a victory at the Unbridled Stakes at Gulfstream Park in Florida. A less-congested trip would be worth 3-4 lengths and improve his chances significantly.
Max Player secured victory in the Withers Stakes at Aqueduct at this exact distance 1-1-8 miles.
The rest of the field would need to improve a couple of notches to reach the winner’s circle.
Belmont Stakes overview
The Belmont Stakes looks far different now than past years. It is two weeks later than normal and has been moved to 1 1-8 miles versus 1 1-2.
It is now the shortest, not the longest, Triple Crown race. The 1 1-4-mile Kentucky Derby will now be run Sept. 5 and the 1 3-16-mile Preakness Stakes occurs Oct. 3.
The new Belmont distance changes the flow of the race. It is only one turn. Horses have about a half-mile to establish position, rather than the usual amount of less than one-quarter of a mile.
The Belmont is the main event Saturday, but the entire afternoon card is loaded. The first post is 1:15 p.m. It’s a betting bonanza.
Here are some of the major stakes races supporting the Belmont:
- $ 300,000 Acorn Stakes, 1 mile
- $250,000 Woody Stephens, 7 furlongs
- $250,000 Jaipur, 6 furlongs
- $150,000 Wonder Again, 1 mile
- $150,000 Pennine Ridge, 1 mile
West Virginia horse racing overview
Charles Town’s Father’s Day card originally announced will not happen, according to Erich Zimny, the vice-president of racing and sports operations.
Zimny told WV Online Sports Betting that Charles Town’s revenue numbers have good.
“[Revenue has] been very positive since we returned in May. Hopefully, we will have a client base that we have built from people who were watching us when there was no one else.”
According to Zimny, Charles Town was one of the nation’s first tracks to beam out a high-definition signal and that its races have been streamed for free on its website for a long time.
Now, Zimny said his facility is looking forward to welcoming fans next week with some new safety measures in place, including:
- Social Distancing
- Verbal health screenings
- Temperature checks
- Encouraging mask-wearing
- Sanitizer stations