The 2020 renewal of the Belmont S. (G1) on June 20 was already going to be a unique and unusual one in the history of the “Test of the Champion.” The composition of the probable field as we now know it also suggests we could be seeing something rare as well in regards to the betting.
With the recent defections of Nadal, Charlatan, and Maxfield from consideration, multiple Grade 1 winner Tiz the Law could be an especially heavy favorite in the 1 1/8-mile Belmont. Those aren’t unusual in the Belmont’s history given the number of Triple Crown-seeking horses we’ve had as well as those attempting to win two-thirds of the series.
With the Belmont coming first this year, Tiz the Law can’t fall into either of those categories. He would, though, belong to a more select group should his post-time odds be 1.30-1 or less, which seems entirely possible.
In the last 60 years, only four Belmont favorites started at odds of 1.30-1 or less having not won either of the two Triple Crown races: Tompion (.85-1 in 1960), My Dad George (1.30-1 in 1970), A.P. Indy (1.10-1 in 1992), and Strodes Creek (1.30-1 in 1994). Only A.P. Indy among the four entered the Belmont as a Triple Crown newcomer and he was the only one of the quartet that won.
While a one-turn Belmont could conceivably fall to a horse who might not have otherwise contended or competed in a conventional 12-furlong renewal, Tiz the Law appears to be one of the few Belmont probables who would have looked strong regardless of the distance. As good as he looked winning the Florida Derby (G1) and Holy Bull (G3) around two turns (earning Brisnet Speed ratings of 100 and 108), keep in mind this was the same colt who was similarly impressive winning the Champagne (G1) at Belmont over a mile last fall.
The amount of support Tiz the Law will receive is also entirely justified given the potential opposition at this writing. It’s hard to get too excited about the chances of Farmington Road, Gouverneur Morris, Max Player, and Modernist. All would need to run the race of their lives to upset, and in Max Player’s case off a layoff dating to Feb. 1.
Offspring of Tapit have dominated recent Belmonts and Tap It to Win has earned rave reviews for a pair of recent allowance wins. However, his two previous stakes attempts were dreadful and any price in the single digits wouldn’t be much of an enticement.
Of greater interest is Sole Volante, whose participation in the coming days depends on his performance in an allowance at Gulfstream on Wednesday and whether connections want to wheel him back on 10 days’ rest.
Although we don’t think too highly of Farmington Road’s or Gouverneur Morris’ chances, Todd Pletcher has an interesting candidate in the lightly-raced Dr Post. He earned a 104 Brisnet Speed rating breaking his maiden over 7 furlongs in late March and returned a month later to win the 1 1/16-mile Unbridled S., also at Gulfstream.
Basin might not end up being the type to be a leading contender for either the Kentucky Derby (G1) or Preakness (G1), but certainly benefits from the change in Belmont distance this year. Although he placed in two of three starts at Oaklawn, the Hopeful (G1) winner’s best chance at a 9-furlong prize would probably come in a one-turn race like this year.
Which brings us back to where we started. Tiz the Law brings so much good to the table it’s hard to see anything but an historically short price in this most unusual of Belmonts. Whatever that price might be, it could prove to be a steal.