- The total betting handle for the 2022 Belmont Stakes was down 16.5% compared to wagering on the 2021 event.
- The 2021 Belmont Stakes had an attendance cap of 11,238 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The attendance at the 2022 event was 46,301.
- Mo Donegal won the 2022 Belmont Stakes ahead of Nest and Skippylongstocking.
After every race, horse trainers and connections evaluate the performance to see what went wrong and what can be done better. This is also true for the betting handle. The New York Racing Association (NYRA) is likely scratching their collective heads trying to figure out why the 2022 Belmont Stakes total betting handle was down 16.5% from last year despite a near capacity crowd. Making the betting numbers even more curious is the fact that the 2021 Belmont had an attendance cap of 11,238 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Belmont played to 22.4% of capacity in 2021 and 92.6% of capacity in 2022 yet betting was still down.
The Daily Racing Form is reporting that the total handle for the 2022 Belmont was 50.25 million USD which also includes multi-leg bets that ended with the Belmont Stakes. In 2021, overall handle was 60.15 million. Both races had eight horses in the field. NYRA added several new multi-leg wagers to the betting board this year, including a pick four spread over the two days.
Despite the deeper betting board, handle was down in every pool except for the Pick 4 and Pick 6 that ended with the Belmont. These two multi-race exotics were down 4.6% and 4.3% respectively. The only pool that increased year over year was the double linking Friday’s Belmont Gold Cup with the Belmont Stakes. Straight pools were down 18.2%, the exacta pool was down 12.3%, the trifecta pool was down 19.8% and the superfecta pool down 29.1%. Betting on the overall Saturday card was down 11.7%.
There’s been a lot of talk recently about smaller field sizes and the impact they have on interest in the sport. The 2022 Belmont card had 100 runners, seven fewer than the 2021 card. On a per race basis, however, that equates to 7.69 this year and 8.23 last year. It’s difficult to accept the premise that a difference of .54 runners per race would cause betting handle to drop so precipitously. The Daily Racing Form suggested that it could have been due to the ‘rotating cast of characters’ that cycled in and out of three races. While the connections of 2022 Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike made the rare decision to bypass the Preakness, otherwise there was three Kentucky Derby runners to move on to the Preakness in both years.
DRF also speculated that the positive drug test of 2021 Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit generated ‘immense publicity’ and the presumed lack of that this year caused betting to drop. Not sure how you’d quantify this, but there was at least as much media coverage of 80-1 longshot Rich Strike’s Kentucky Derby win. The mainstream media gave the Rich Strike story significantly more coverage than the Medina Spirit/Baffert situation last year.
We’ll do some more extensive research into the Belmont betting numbers this year versus last year and see what we come up with. In addition, we’ll consider the relationship between on-track attendance and betting handle. Stay tuned.