The Belmont Stakes WIN ZONE – Who’s In It? – Super Screener
Super Screener

The Belmont Stakes WIN ZONE – Who’s In It?

The question resurfaces this time each year…which running style is best suited for winning the Belmont? In doing some research a few years ago for the Belmont Stakes Super Screener, we extended that question to include which energy distribution (running style) profiles account for the four available slots in the Belmont Stakes Superfecta? The answer to both questions was somewhat surprising.

Going back over the past 14 years, we captured the energy distribution profiles for each of the first four finishers of the Belmont Stakes. We classified horses into four energy distribution categories using their position at the 6-furlong mark.

Here are some interesting conclusions we can take away from this chart:

  • Most winners (8 of 14) are Mid-pack Closer types sitting 3 to 5 lengths off the lead in the early stages of the race.


  • The only “Deep” Closers that managed to win in the past 14 years were Afleet Alex and Jazil and neither of these colts were more than 8 lengths off the lead early on.


  •  The bottom of the Trifecta is where you are likely to see a Deep Closer finish (8 of 14), yet, there were only 2 Deep Closers that accounted for the bottom of the Superfecta.


  • 75% of all Superfecta positions are filled by a Mid-pack Closer or Deep Closer!


  • The Pace player managed to hit the Superfecta in 8 of the past 14 Belmont Stakes but accounted for only two of the victories. A place finish was far more likely with half of those 8 Pace setters finishing second.


  • Pressers accounted for only 5 of the available 56 Superfecta slot opportunities making it the least desirable energy distribution profile in the  past 14 runnings of the Belmont Stakes.


  • Only 2 of the past 14 Belmont Stakes races featured more than one Pace/Presser type hitting the Superfecta and that occurred in the only two races that came up sloppy over the past 14 years (2011 and 2003).


  • The win spot accounted for the most double-digit odds winners (8 of 14).


  •  At least one 15-1+ long shot hit the board in 9 of the past 14 Belmont Stakes races.

So, why is it that as of late, Pace and especially Presser types have struggled to make an impact in win spot and across all of the other Superfecta slots? I believe there are two clear reasons.
1. Belmont field sizes today are much larger than what past Triple Crown winners  encountered…often featuring 12 or more participants in today’s fields. There has been no Triple Crown winner in history that faced a field of more than 8 horses in the Belmont Stakes. This difference in field sizes has a significant impact on race shape and pace pressure in today’s larger Belmont fields.
2. There is far more parity across today’s Belmont Stakes fields than there was even as recently as 20 years ago when there was a lot of separation between the elite 3 year-olds and the also rans.



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