Betting Numbers Down Big
In the 154th running of the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes presented by the New York Racing Association (NYRA) and NYRA Bets, the day took in a handle exceeding $98 million. After bettors wagered a record $112.7 million on last year’s Belmont Stakes, this year’s handle presented a 12.3% decrease. The entire three-day Belmont Stakes racing event featured 17 stakes and 33 races from June 9-11, generating an all-sources handle of $127.8 million.
Betting on the third leg of the Triple Crown specifically, carded as Race 11 in which Mo Donegal came out on top, generated a $50.2 million handle, down over $10 million (or 17%) from last year’s $60.5 million handle. In this year and last year alike, a Triple Crown title was not on the line in the Belmont Stakes.
Last year, pandemic restrictions capped the attendance at Belmont Park to just 11,238, quite different from previous races which saw upwards of 90,000 fans in attendance. This year’s Belmont Stakes capacity was capped at 50,000 due to surrounding construction in the area, but only 46,301 fans attended the race.
Both of the last two legs of the Triple Crown saw dips in numbers despite the Kentucky Derby shattering records right out of the gate. The Preakness Stakes saw a 5% drop in its handle, down to $65.3 million and the entire 14-race card handle fell $9 million from the previous year to $104.3 million. Meanwhile the Kentucky Derby race took over $179 million in bets, up 15% from last year’s race while the entire Kentucky Derby Day program handle increased by 17% from 2021, totalling $273.8 million.
Mo Donegal Takes The Cake
Unlike the thrilling upset of Rich Strike at the Kentucky Derby, this year’s Belmont Stakes winner was the clear favorite. At post time, Mo Donegal and his jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. were the near 3-to-1 favorite; living up to the hype, he finished the mile-and-a-half marathon in 2:28.29 blowing past second place horse Nest, by three lengths. This win for Mo Donegal paid its bettors $7.20 for a $2 bet and its owners $800,000. Interestingly enough, both Mo Donegal and Nest are owned by Mike Repole, fulfilling a lifelong dream of his to take first and second place.
Mo Donegal and Rich Strike practically swapped places since the last time they faced off at the Derby in May when Mo Donegal fell to fifth place amid the Rich Strike victory. This time around, Rich Strike started in the back (again) and couldn’t do much with it – he finished in sixth place.
The Preakness Stakes winner Early Voting did not participate in the Belmont Stakes, much like Rich Strike sat out for the Preakness Stakes. This contributed to this year’s Triple Crown being the fourth consecutive time that three different horses have won the legs of the Triple Crown. The last time that happened was from 1926-1929.