Nilsen’s Belmont Stakes Analysis

Rich Nilsen handicapperby Rich Nilsen, founder of

To say this is an unusual Triple Crown year would be a huge understatement.  We have a 1 1/8 miles Belmont Stakes as the first jewel of the Triple Crown with the second and third legs not run until September and October, respectively.   With several recent,  major defections, this year’s running is a pretty weak group overall.  Let’s take a look, starting with the legitimate favorite #8 Tiz The Law.

#8 Tiz The Law has done little wrong for Sackatoga Stable and trainer Barclay Tagg, the same team that brought us the loveable Funny Cide.  The son of Constitution was an impressive debut winner last summer at Saratoga and then quickly stepped up into Grade 1 company where he crushed the field despite stumbling at the start.  He was then a troubled third in the slop in his last start as a juvenile.  He’s returned this year and rolled to victory to two stakes at Gulfstream Park, the G3 Holy Bull and the G1 Florida Derby.  The colt has the perfect tactical speed, two works over the local surface  and is simply faster  than the majority runners in this field.  His main fear is…

#1 Tap It To Win – trainer Mark Casse goes for his third consecutive victory in a Triple Crown race, so don’t take this colt lightly.  The Tapit runner was simply spectacular last time out at Belmont Park, crushing a quality allowance field.  This was a jaw-dropping performance because he easily outran some other speed while setting swift fractions and then just continued on to a dominating win.  I don’t know what happened to him in his two starts in Kentucky last fall, but he looks like a new horse as a sophomore colt.

#4 Modernist – The Bill Mott runner showed his talent by stepping up of a maiden win at Aqueduct in the mud to score in the G2 Risen Star at Fair Grounds over 10 rivals.  He didn’t have the best of trips last out in the G2 Louisiana Derby but still managed to run a respectable third.  Who would ever think we would see a ‘turn back’ horse in the Belmont Stakes?  It’s that type of year.  This guy is a major sleeper at square odds.  Get the latest Belmont Stakes news and notes.

#2 Sole Volante – was a horse to watch for me after some subtle trouble and then finishing strongly up the rail in the G2 Tampa Bay Derby.  This gelding has finished well in all six of his career starts, including a solid win last out at Gulfstream Park.  The biggest concern with this closer is jockey Luca Panici, an average jock who is unfamiliar with ‘Big Sandy.’  Knowing when to make your move over this track is a critical trait.

#10 Pneumatic – Uncle Mo runner won back-t0-back races at Oaklawn Park and then was a good third last time out behind Maxfield, who would be co-favorite in this race if he was running.  Owns good tactical speed and starts for a Belmont winning trainer in Steve Asmussen.  Certainly a contender but not sure he’s good enough to win.

#9 Dr Post – runner from St Elias Stable has done little wrong in three starts for Pletcher and is coming into this race in sharp form.   This is still a big step up off his last race at Gulfstream and he’s no bargain at 5/1 on the line.

#3 Max Player – has ability and is going in the right direction for Linda Rice.  He’s also been working well and has a new rider in Rosario, who is great on closers.  Chance for a piece.

#5 Farmington Road – could be overbet due to the Pletcher factor and there are better closers in this field.  Playing against this maiden winner.

#6 Fore Left – I had this horse in the Tremont S. victory last spring.  This isn’t the Tremont.

#7 Jungle Runner – Pass.

Wagering strategy:  Superfecta partwheel 1, 8 with 1, 2, 4, 8 with 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 9, 10 with ALL ($21 wager for every $.10 increment).


If you end up doing well on Belmont Stakes day, please consider giving a donation to one of the following great organizations:

Belmont Child Care Association which supports Anna’s House and the families and children on the New York backside (  New York, of course, was hit the hardest by the Covid-19 pandemic.  Another is Acacia Courtney’s Racing For Home, which supports ex-racehorses.


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About Editor

Rich Nilsen is a 19-time qualifier to the National Horseplayers Championship (NHC), an event he has cashed in four times. He was the first player to finish in the top 10 of the NHC twice. A former executive with and a member of the NHC Players’ Committee, Rich is a graduate of the University of Louisville Equine Business Program and is founder of, a site devoted to horse racing education and promotion.

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