Sunshine State Horse Racing Fans Have Connections At Belmont Stakes

Written By Dave Bontempo on June 7, 2023 - Last Updated on June 14, 2023
Florida horse racing at Belmont Stakes

This is horse racing’s all-star game.

Florida horse racing bettors can see jockeys and trainers who clash at Gulfstream Park and Tampa Bay Downs all year, reaching the sport’s pinnacle on Saturday.

The $1.5 million Belmont Stakes and its worldwide stage is filled with Sunshine State power brokers. They carved much of their 2023 success right here before heading to Belmont Park in New York for the third jewel of racing’s Triple Crown.

Post time is listed at 6:50 p.m., although the 1 1–2-mile test of champions may start after 7 p.m.

Gulfstream Park has a live 12-race card starting at 12:50 p.m. and ending about half an hour before the Belmont. Gamblers can wager on the Belmont at the track or through all the “app-propriate” devices.

Florida connections to the 155th Belmont Stakes

Todd Pletcher has the favorite

Forte, guided by Gulfstream Park’s leading money-winning trainer, was installed as the 5-2 chalk at Tuesday’s draw. He romped in the Fountain of Youth and nipped Mage at the wire in a thrilling Florida Derby finish.

A foot injury caused him to be withdrawn from the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. But he’s back, on a five-race win streak and expected to do well.

Irad Ortiz is on him

Yes, Ortiz’ acrobatic ride meant all the difference in the Florida Derby. He patiently waited until the final turn to swing Forte wide and power up just enough to make a bold winning move in the homestretch. It was regarded as one of Ortiz’s best rides ever.

The victory also capped his Gulfstream championship riding title. Ortiz reclaimed the crown after Luis Saez had broken Ortiz’ three-year mark last year.

Speaking of Saez, we will see him too. Saez is aboard Tapit Trice, who notoriously breaks badly and tries to make up ground. Tapit Trice was the 3-1 second favorite on Tuesday.

Tapit Trice’s Florida link

You saw him here during the winter.  Tapit Trice won an allowance optional claiming event at Gulfstream in February and then captured the Tampa Bay Derby, a Kentucky Derby prep.

Tapit Trice won that race with a strong late move and may be comfortable with a race that goes long, 1 1-2 miles.

*Arcangelo broke his maiden at Gulfstream Park. It happened in March and he pulled away impressively after closing on a fast pace. He later won the Peter Pan at the host track.

From Gulfstream Park maiden special weights to the Belmont Stakes winner’s circle? We’ll see.

Javier Castellano rides Arcangelo

Oh, yes, the jockey who piloted Florida-based Mage to the Kentucky Derby triumph goes North to handle Arcangelo. That’s a strong sign of respect by the connections of the horse.

You gotta have the Ortiz brothers

Jose Ortiz is often played in exacta boxes with his brother Irad at Gulfstream Park. On Saturday, Jose mounts Tapit Shoes, who has a lot of talent for a 20-1 longshot. He finished a nose behind Red Route One, who is 15-1 in the Belmont, at the $200,000 Bath House Row Stakes.

Here’s a look at the draw:

1Tapit ShoesBrad Cox Jose Ortiz20-1
2Tapit Trice Todd Pletcher Luis Saez3-1
3ArcangeloJena AntonucciJavier Castellano 8-1
4National TreasureBob BaffertJohn Velazquez 5-1
5Il MiracoloAntonio SanoMarcos Menese30-1
6Forte Todd PletcherIrad Ortiz Jr. 5-2
7Hit Show Brad Cox Manny Franco10-1
8Angel of Empire Brad Cox Flavien Prat 7-2
9Red Route One Steve AsmussenJoel Rosario 15-1

How Belmont Pace Shapes Up

Il Miracolo and National Treasure are expected to set the early pace, with Tapit Shoes perhaps along for the ride.

Forte and Angel of Empire want to make mid-pack moves and Tapit Trice will be running late. He won’t run out of race track at this distance.

While the Belmont is a remote spectacle for Florida bettors, a vibrant live racing weekend unfolds at 1:05 p.m. Friday, 12:50 p.m. Saturday and Sunday in Hallandale Beach.

It’s the start of a new Pick 6 campaign because a crazy thing happened last weekend.

Bettor Nails Pick Six for More Than A Quarter Million

It was the once-in-a-blue-moon experience. It was the struck-by-lightning occurrence, the Impossible Dream, the ship that came in.

The 20-cent Rainbow 6 jackpot pool was hit for a $263,655.91 payoff Sunday at Gulfstream Park. The popular multi-race wager had gone unsolved for 11 racing days following a mandatory payout.

Sunday’s winning combination was 5-6-6-6-2-3.

As Florida bettors know, the  Rainbow 6 jackpot is paid out when a single unique ticket is sold with all six winners. When there is no unique ticket, 70 percent of that day’s pool goes back to those bettors holding tickets with the most winners, while 30 percent is carried over to the jackpot pool.

What created the foundation for the payout? There were many short-priced horses, which one gambler presumably singled to allow more room for the big longshot that made this payday.  And that horse, Amor Leano, produced the 30-1upset a large Pick 6 payout needs. (More on that in Salute to Longshots section below).

The Rainbow 6 will start anew Friday. The Rainbow 6 sequence will span Races 4-9, featuring a high-quality field of 3-year-olds and up in Race 6.

Novo Sol headlines Friday’s action

Saffie Joseph Jr.-trained Novo Sol, a multiple graded stakes-placed 6-year-old, headlines a field of eight 3-year-olds and up in the Race 8 feature, a 1 1/16-mile optional claiming allowance on Tapeta.

Novo Sol, who finished third in the Autumn on Tapeta at Woodbine last fall, will be making his second start off a layoff following a late-fading seventh in the April 1 Pan American (G2) on turf.

Earlier on Friday’s program, a field of eight 2-year-old fillies will be featured in Race 2, a 4.5-furlong maiden special weight race.

Arindel’s Cherokee brings an edge in experience into the race, having finished second twice. Eddie Plesa Jr.-trained Epona’s Hope, a half to $400,000 earner Schivarelli, is scheduled to debut Friday.

A Super Hi-5 carryover of $6,881.83 will be heading into Friday’s nine-race card.

Salute to Longshots

This is a big one.

The Pick 6 Hit capped off a weekend marked by impressive longshots.

There was one game-changing bomb each day.

It started on Friday.

Fast Fixer paid 30-1 to win, while 5-1 shot The Great Cesar was second. Far From Home hit home for bettors, getting third at 10-1. Peach Nectar obtained fourth at 5-1.

The 6-5 favorite Get Khozy faded in the stretch and the floodgates opened.

The $2 exacta was worth $562.40. The $1 trifecta paid $1,264. 60 and the $1-dollar superfecta returned $7,261, or $726  for 10 cents.

Saturday’s salute belonged to Samy Camacho

Florida bettors have followed our coverage of him all year. Camacho is far and away the pre-eminent jockey at Tampa Bay Downs.

He captured the Tampa meet with 114 winners, surpassing his nearest rival at 56. Camacho also notched more than $2 million in purses, the only jockey above $1 million.

When Camacho comes here, he is stepping up against tougher competition. Camacho is not going to get the short-price horses. He gets the bombs and his ticket up the ladder is to make some of these longshots come through.

And step up he did last Saturday.

Camacho guided 40-1 shot Truth and Honesty to victory in the day’s final race.

Camacho parked his horse behind a speed duel and pounced when the favorite faltered. He returned a sweet on the win line.

Truth and Honesty paid a handsome $91.40 to win, $32 to place and $19.80 to show.

Second went to Tumiga at 5-1, capping a $478.40 exacta. Doc Ballard was third at 8-1 and the $1 trifecta paid $897.

Fourth belonged to Brooklyn Dreams at 7-2. The $1-dollar superfecta paid $6,263, meaning the 10-center as $626.

The Sunday Slam was a beauty

Here’s another look at the race which solidified the monster Pick 6 payday.

Amor Lejano prevailed at 30-1, tracking a pace that compromised the frontrunners and overcoming them in the stretch. Favored Straight Shot was second at 2-1, while No Angel was third at 5-2.

Fourth went to  Lunar Rocket at 18-1.

Amor Lejano paid $68 on the win line.

The $2 exacta paid a whopping $455.80, while the $1 trifecta was worth $887.35. The 10-cent super paid $845.30, or $16,906 for $2.

How do you pick out a 30-1 shot in this crowd?

Some bettors didn’t have to. The key wager bet putting favored Straight Shot first and second in the $1 trifecta only costs $12. One might throw Amor Lejano in because he was the longest shot on the board.

That’s how you could “back into” this payout, getting the right key and stabbing with long shots.

Some astute bettors undoubtedly picked up something else. The middle of the track was performing well all day. Four of the previous six races had been won by a horse from the six-post. Some bettors likely took a pop on the middle of the track positioning.

Either way, a great hit for anyone with a piece of this.

Good luck this weekend.

Photo by Shutterstock
Dave Bontempo Avatar
Written by
Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo is a multiple national award-winning boxing commentator and writer. He writes NFL betting columns for the Press of Atlantic City, iGaming Player and others. For PlayFL, he will focus on the world of Florida horse racing. 

View all posts by Dave Bontempo