2019 Belmont Stakes: Betting on Designer Genes

In a 2017 article on the lazybettor.com site, I referred to the Belmont Stakes as “the last bastion of racing’s upper crust.” More regularly than in the Kentucky Derby, winners claim some affiliation with racing’s most prestigious breeding operations. Juddmonte Farms. The Phipps Family. Mary Lou Whitney. Shadwell Stables.

In that 2017 article I used stud fees and purchase prices as the top handicapping factors to compile a short list of serious contenders:

  • Tapwrit (out of Tapit, $300,000 stud fee)
  • Irish War Cry (out of Curlin, $150,000 stud fee)
  • Gormley (out of Malibu Moon, $75,000 stud fee)
  • Patch (out of Union Rags, $50,000 stud fee)

Unfortunately I couldn’t leave well enough alone. I used performance factors to rearrange the order of contenders when making my recommended picks of Gormley and Patch. Too bad, because the stud-fee list above pegged the exacta cold and filled every slot in the superfecta.

This year I recommend you side with the most regally sired runners and not second-guess the captains of the industry by rearranging their order. In the Belmont Stakes, “Money goes to money.” The following list of the most-moneyed sires should help you share in that positive flow of cash.

1. War of Will (sire War Front, stud fee $250,000)

Imagine how successful a sire must be to command a stud fee higher than Tapit’s current fee of $225,000! Graded stakes victories among War Front’s offspring must be piling up rapidly to make that math work for racing’s wealthiest and possibly wisest investors.

In addition to a lofty pedigree, War of Will owns the most impressive graded stakes victories as well as exceptional recent form. From the breeding shed to the finish line he rates as the best horse in the field. As a bonus for bettors he probably won’t be the post-time favorite.

2. Tacitus (sire Tapit, stud fee $225,000)

Oddsmakers expect Tacitus to enter the starting gate as the race favorite. The Wood Memorial and Tampa Bay Derby winner certainly stands out among the trio of Tapits in this race, but his accomplishments to date do not overshadow those of War of Will. His winning time in the Wood Memorial was slow, and his best effort came at a mere mile and a sixteenth. Perhaps his pedigree and the added distance will help him notch his first victory over a top graded stakes horse. Do you really want to take 8-5 odds on that?

3. Intrepid Heart (sire Tapit, stud fee $225,000)

Todd Pletcher trains the lightly raced Intrepid Heart. His unimpressive first try in graded-stakes company (the Grade 3 Peter Pan Stakes) suggests he’s over his head here. But Pletcher has experienced some Belmont success, and Intrepid Heart might improve at a price, given that his pedigree fits the distance so well.

4. Bourbon War (sire Tapit, stud fee $225,000)

After an encouraging start to his racing career, Bourbon War racked up two abysmal efforts in Grade 1 events. Most recently he failed to gain ground late in the Preakness while the front runners were collapsing from the fast early pace. Regular rider Irad Ortiz opts to ride Tax rather than eating dirt sandwiches for a mile and a half.

Roger LeBlanc

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