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Monday Myths: Do Closers Fire Best in Belmont?

by Jeremy Plonk

June 6, 2022

Welcome to a continuing handicapping series for our Monday blog space, “Monday Myths.” Each week I’ll use the power of the Betmix database to take common handicapping assumptions and either support or dispel them with data. Betmix data powers the 1/ST BET app and its features like Angler and Birddog give data-minded horseplayers a treasure trove of information in which to query your own curiosities.


The mile and one-half distance of the Belmont Stakes gives deep closers their best chance in the Triple Crown.


Late-running Kentucky and Preakness runners often are earmarked by handicappers and horsemen as potential Belmont Stakes successes. But does the longer distance equate to success?

Data Points:

This week I utilized the official race charts for the last 10 Belmont Stakes at 1-1/2 miles to see where the winners were placed with a half-mile left to run. I did not include 2020 when the race was conducted at just 1-1/8 miles.


-1/2 length | Essential Quality (2021)
-3 3/4 length | Sir Winston (2019)
+2 length | Justify (2018)
-2 length | Tapwrit (2017)
-3 1/2 length | Creator (2016)
+1 1/2 length | American Pharoah (2015)
-1 length | Tonalist (2014)
- 1/2 length | Palace Malice (2013)
-3 1/2 length | Union Rags (2012)
-1 length | Ruler On Ice (2011)

Bottom line:

None of the last 10 Belmont winners was farther than 3-3/4 lengths off the lead with a half-mile yet to run. Six of those 10 were within a length of the lead, in fact, or in front. The average winner was 1-1/4 lengths off the lead at that 1-mile point of the race. The idea that deep closers are bigger threats in the Belmont is adamantly false in the last decade of the Belmont Stakes.

Additional details:

You can go into Betmix and run your own queries for a deeper dive into this theory and any that you can create. For instance, check out the distance pedigree ratings for contenders and how they’ve fared in the Belmont Stakes.