Horse Racing
How to bet the Belmont Stakes: Chris 'The Bear' Fallica's expert picks, best bets
Horse Racing

How to bet the Belmont Stakes: Chris 'The Bear' Fallica's expert picks, best bets

Updated Jun. 10, 2023 5:10 p.m. ET

"Bear Bets" are real wagers that Chris "The Bear" Fallica is actually making.

All eyes will be on the 155th running of the Belmont Stakes this weekend. Post time is set for 7:05 p.m. ET Saturday, and the race will be on FOX and the FOX Sports app.

While no horse is in the running for the coveted Triple Crown, the field is strong, which should make for an eventful race.

Let's take a look at the race from a betting perspective. 


Forte, the Kentucky Derby favorite before withdrawing, is the current +250 favorite. The field is so solid that Preakness winner National Treasure is actually the fourth choice on the Belmont odds board at +500.

As for best bets, to keep it simple, I'll lead with my picks first. After that, keep reading to learn about each of the horses running.

My betting card

[RELATED: Chris Fallica talks FOX Sports TV debut, Belmont Stakes breakdown]

Primer on all the horses (position, horse, jockey, trainer, odds)

1. Tapit Shoes (Jose Ortiz/Brad Cox) 20-1

I think this horse has a nice future. In fact, I had him at 5-1 in his last race at Oaklawn when he suffered a gross beat at the hands of Red Route One. However, I think Tapit Shoes' presence in the race is merely that of a rabbit to help Brad Cox’s other two horses (Angel of Empire and Hit Show) by making sure National Treasure doesn’t get away with an easy lead. 

It's a short enough field where it doesn’t cost much to hit the all button for third, but on any press tickets, I don’t think you need to include him.

2. Tapit Trice (Luis Saez/Todd Pletcher) 3-1

Destin, Tapwrit, Vino Rosso and now Tapit Trice. All ran well at Tampa, and then they kinda went around the track in the Derby before skipping the Preakness. I bring this up because the first three returned with huge efforts in the Belmont. Will Tapict Trice produce as well?

He was very close to being favored in the Derby and just never fired. But now he's back in New York where he broke his maiden with a huge chance to win. Tapit Trice is a closer but can be more of a stalker than a deep closer. 

He beat Blazing Sevens by a greater margin at KEE than National Treasure did in the Preakness, but Blazing Sevens needed that race. Of the two Todd Pletcher runners, I prefer Tapit Trice to Forte as I have fewer doubts about his racing shape. He should be grinding away at the leaders and has a great chance of winning this race. 

If you're looking to make a bet on one horse to win, Tapit Trice would be the wager for you, as indicated in my betting card.

3. Arcangelo (Javier Castellano/Jena Antonucci) 8-1

It seems like the Peter Pan winner gets hyped and becomes the buzz horse every time he goes on to run in the Belmont. So one has to decide — is he Tonalist, who won the 2014 Belmont? Or is he We The People, a horse that was nowhere in last year’s race? 

My guess is that he’s somewhere in between, as he ran a good race against Kingsbarns in his second start and has improved since. 

I’m not sure that he beat much in either the maiden win or the Peter Pan, but given it's a short field, and he should be relatively forwardly placed, he’s got a money chance. Although, I think a win is asking too much. 

4. National Treasure (John Velazquez/Bob Baffert) 5-1

He was my top pick in the Preakness, and he bravely held off Blazing Sevens to get into the money with a gate-to-wire trip. One would have to assume the strategy will be the same here, which is basically, "Come and get me if you can." However, I would expect Tapit Shoes to provide more pace pressure than anything National Treasure faced at Pimlico, which could be the difference here. 

He’s never been worse than fourth in any of his six starts. I’d be surprised but not shocked if he won Saturday. I expect him to run his race and have a decent chance of hitting the board. But this is a much better field than he faced three weeks ago. 

5. Il Miracolo (Marcos Meneses/Antonio Sano) 30-1

If he can just beat one horse, it's a $15k trip because eighth place takes home $15k. And that's for the hopeless long shot that was nowhere vs. Forte at Gulfstream. In short, there’s no need to include him on any of your tickets. 

6. Forte (Irad Ortiz Jr/Todd Pletcher) 5-2

I was against Forte in the Derby prior to the scratch, and there haven’t been any developments to make me want to run to the window and back him on top here, either. He hasn’t raced in 70 days and had his training interrupted because he was on the vet's list. 

I had concerns in Louisville about Forte getting a 1 1/4, and I have the same concerns about him being able to get 1 1/2 here — even with Todd Pletcher’s mastery of this race. We’ll see how much punch the closer has in the late stages. Maybe he’ll surprise me. But I’d be looking to fade him in head-to-head and exchange wagers.

It is a bit of a shame because he had great 2-year-old and early 3-year-old campaigns, but things just went bad for him at the worst possible time. 

7. Hit Show (Manny Franco/Brad Cox) 10-1

His Beyer Speed Figures have gotten better with each start. After going favored in his first five starts, the rail draw in the Derby meant he was pretty much up against it from the start. But Manny Franco actually worked out about as good of a trip as he could from there, and he finished a decent fifth. 

The running style best suited to win this race will be just a nice forwardly placed or mid-pack trip, so you are never out of touch with the leaders. He’s got two good races in New York, granted they came at Aqueduct, where he ran too good to lose in the Wood from the far outside post. 

The presence of the ML Derby favorite Forte, the actual Derby favorite Angel of Empire, the second choice in the Derby, Tapit Trice, and Preakness winner National Treasure means you'll get a great price on him, so I’m all in.

Either Hit Show or Tapit Trice will be your winner. If you want to place a Win-Place wager, look no further.

8. Angel of Empire (Flavien Prat/Brad Cox) 7-2

He may not have won the Derby, but it was his best race in terms of speed figures by a lot. I’m curious to see how far back Flavien Prat has him here. Trainer Brad Cox has Tapit Shoes in the race, presumably as a rabbit. So Angel of Empire won’t want to be that close, but at the same time, you don’t want to be too far back where others might get the first jump on you. 

Angel of Empire has fired every time on dirt, with four wins, a second and a third from six starts. And while my instinct is to say he’s running over his head based on where he started his career and the odds he’s won some races with, it's hard to knock the results. 

While Angel of Empire can certainly win, I still like Tapit Trice in that spot. And because of the price, I also like Hit Show better.

9. Red Route One (Joel Rosario/Steve Asmussen) 15-1

Given the weakness of the Preakness field, he finished right where he should have, and that was fourth in the field of seven. Even Mage, who didn’t run that well, beat him by better than two lengths. 

Closers don’t typically win the Belmont. Steve Asmussen’s Creator was an exception, but he has nowhere near the resume of Creator, and he’s best used in the third and fourth spots in trifectas and superfectas as he could pass some tiring horses and get a minor share. 

Let's have some fun and win some money!

P.S. If you need a little primer/ refresher on how to bet on the ponies, here's an introduction to horse racing that should help.

Chris "The Bear" Fallica has covered sports for nearly three decades. While college football has been his focus, he also enjoys the NFL, Soccer, Golf, Tennis, MLB, NHL and Horse Racing, with an "occasional" wager on such events. Chris recently won the inaugural Circa Football Invitational and finished in the Top 10 of the Golden Nugget Football Contest. He’s a multiple-time qualifier for the NHC Handicapping Championship. Remember, "The less you bet, the more you lose when you win!" Follow him on Twitter @chrisfallica.

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