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Belmont Stakes 2020: Tiz The Law coasts to victory

Tiz The Law wins by 3¾ lengths in the Belmont Stakes, which this year is the first leg of the Triple Crown.

Tiz The Law (8), with jockey Manny Franco aboard, wins the152nd running of the Belmont Stakes horse race.
Tiz The Law (8), with jockey Manny Franco aboard, wins the Belmont Stakes on Saturday in Elmont, N.Y. The only Grade 1 winner in the 10-horse field, Tiz The Law prevailed by 3¾ lengths.
(Seth Wenig / Associated Press)
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Tiz The Law wins Belmont Stakes by 3¾ lengths

Tiz The Law, with jockey Manny Franco, crosses the finish line to win the 152nd Belmont Stakes on Saturday in Elmont, N.Y.
Tiz The Law, with jockey Manny Franco aboard, crosses the finish line to win the 152nd running of the Belmont Stakes on Saturday in Elmont, N.Y.
(Seth Wenig / Associated Press)

The Belmont Stakes’ debut as the first race in the Triple Crown had little of the suspense that normally accompanies the Kentucky Derby. Instead, the only Grade 1 winner in the watered-down 10-horse field, Tiz The Law, erased any doubt of being much the best by winning by 3¾ lengths.

Saturday’s race set up just as expected with Tap It To Win going to the front and joined by Fore Left, the other front-runner in the race. Tiz The Law was sitting comfortably in a stalking position in third. When it came to exiting the far turn, jockey Manny Franco looked under his arm to the rest of the field, a sign that he had plenty of horse left and planned to use it.

“I was pretty confident when I hit the 7/8 pole,” said Franco, who won his first Belmont Stakes in his first appearance. “He was relaxed for me. He was so comfortable. … I think that was the key for the victory.”

Tiz The Law paid $3.60, $2.90 and $2.60 as the heavy favorite. Dr Post was second, followed by Max Player, Pneumatic, Tap It To Win, Sole Volante, Modernist, Farrington Road, Fore Left and Jungle Runner.

The Belmont was thrust to the front of the line when Churchill Downs moved the Kentucky Derby to Sept. 5 after the COVID-19 pandemic played havoc with all live sports. The Belmont is normally third in the rotation and at the grueling distance of 1½ miles.

But there is no way the race could be that long when no 3-year-olds have even gone the Kentucky Derby distance of 1¼ miles. Instead, the race was shortened to 1 1/8 miles, the distance normally associated with the final prep race before the Kentucky Derby.

In winning, Tiz The Law became the first New York-bred horse to win the Belmont since 1882. It was also a special victory for the owners, who so desperately wanted to win this race. Sackatoga Stables, six high school friends whose dreams exceeded rational expectations, had purchased a yearling for $22,000. Two years later, in 2003, Funny Cide had won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness and needed a Belmont win to take the coveted Triple Crown. Funny Cide finished third after leading for the first mile.

Barclay Tagg, 82, was the trainer for both Funny Cide and Tiz The Law.

“I’m just glad I’ve lived long enough to have a horse like this,” Tagg said.

The Belmont looked to be a great opening race of the three-race series as Nadal, the top-rated 3-year-old in the country, was scheduled to run for Santa Anita-based Bob Baffert. But he suffered an injury during a workout and was retired. Baffert, having a deep barn, was then going to send Charlatan, another undefeated 3-year-old. He too suffered an injury but hopes to return possibly for the Preakness.

Maxfield, one of the best horses racing in Kentucky, also took a pass on the race because of an injury. What was left was Tiz The Law and everyone else. He had won two Grade 1 races, while no other horse had won even one.

Tiz The Law had won four of five races before Saturday’s Belmont Stakes. His only loss had come over a sloppy track in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes. His first Grade 1 win was in the Champagne Stakes as a 2-year-old over the same Belmont dirt track. He also won the Florida Derby this year.

Normally, the entire Triple Crown is conducted in five weeks instead of five months. Tiz The Law might look for a race before the Kentucky Derby, possibly the Travers Stakes on Aug. 8.

“I got the horse for the race,” Franco said. “I’m very happy with the opportunity owner Jack Knowlton and the trainer have given me. They know what they are doing, and the horse is very good.”

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Final Belmont Stakes odds update

Current Belmont odds as of 2 p.m. PDT:

1. Tap It To Win 9-2

2. Sole Volante 12-1

3. Max Player 11-1

4. Modernist 21-1

5. Farmington Road 13-1

6. Fore Left 18-1

7. Jungle Runner 21-1

8. Tiz The Law 1-1

9. Dr Post 8-1

10. Pneumatic 16-1

Analysis: The closer you get to post time, the less the odds change when you have a big mutuel pool. But, with no on-track wagering and everyone betting on their computers, you wonder if the idea of not having to stand in line will create a late surge in money. In the latest update, Tiz The Law ticked up to even money and Four Left and Pneumatic dropped by a point, but otherwise things stayed the same. About $3.6 million has been bet to win so far.

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Tiz the Law remains favorite in updated Belmont Odds

Sam Grossman plays to an empty grandstand before the 152nd Belmont Stakes in Elmont, N.Y. on Saturday.
(Seth Wenig / Associated Press)

Current Belmont odds as of 1 p.m. PDT:

1. Tap It to Win 9-2

2. Sole Volante 12-1

3. Max Player 11-1

4. Modernist 21-1

5. Farmington Road 13-1

6. Fore Left 19-1

7. Jungle Runner 21-1

8. Tiz the Law 4-5

9. Dr Post 8-1

10. Pneumatic 17-1

Analysis: Tiz the Law held firm at 4-5, while Max Player, Jungle Runner and Dr Post all ticked down one number. Modernist was the only horse to move up in odds. About $2.7 has been bet to win.

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Current Belmont Stakes odds

Current Belmont odds as of noon PDT:

1. Tap It to Win 9-2

2. Sole Volante 12-1

3. Max Player 12-1

4. Modernist 20-1

5. Farmington Road 13-1

6. Fore Left 19-1

7. Jungle Runner 22-1

8. Tiz the Law 4-5

9. Dr Post 9-1

10. Pneumatic 17-1

Analysis: Now things are starting to look a little more like everyone expected. Every horse in the field except Tiz the Law climbed on the odds board in the last hour. And Tiz the Law dropped from 6-5 to less than even money at 4-5. Tap It to Win remains the strong second favorite. About $2.157 million has been bet to win so far.

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Belmont Stakes field: Pneumatic

Post 10: Pneumatic

Trainer: Steve Asmussen

Jockey: Ricardo Santana Jr.

Morning line: 10-1

Jon White analysis:

The case for: As in the case of Dr Post, though Pneumatic has only three races under his belt, it looks like he could prove a tough customer Saturday off his two wins and a solid third in the 1 1/16-mile Matt Winn Stakes at Churchill on May 23. Dr Post did not win the Winn, but he acquitted himself well in defeat. He battled for the lead from the beginning and held on well enough late to lose by 1 3/4 lengths to the undefeated Maxfield. If Maxfield were in the Belmont, he would be one of the favorites. Ergo, after being far from disgraced against Maxfield, it stands to reason that Pneumatic should not be taken lightly Saturday.

The case against: As with Dr Post, a lack of racing experience is a concern for Pneumatic. Additional concerns are he’s never raced at Belmont Park and this will be the first time he’s been asked to go farther than 1 1/16 miles.

Final Belmont ranking: Fifth

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Belmont Stakes field: Dr Post

Dr Post works out on a track at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y., on Thursday.
(Seth Wenig / Associated Press)

Post 9: Dr Post

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.

Morning line: 5-1

Jon White analysis:

The case for: Though he has only three races under his belt, it looks like he could prove a tough customer Saturday off his back-to-back wins at Gulfstream in his two starts this year to date. He overcame a troubled trip to win Gulfstream’s 1 1/16-mile Unbridled Stakes by 1 1/2 lengths. Pletcher has said that while Dr Post “lacks a little bit of experience in terms of races run, he got a lot of education in the Unbridled. He was kind of boxed in through a good portion of the race and ate a lot of dirt. We were happy that not only was he able to win, but kind of overcome some adversity and get some education.” A big plus for Dr Post is his jockey, who is widely considered to be the best rider in the country. Dr Post probably will be about in the same position early as Tiz the Law. But will Dr Post have the same sort of punch in the lane as the big favorite?

The case against: A lack of racing experience is a concern. Even Pletcher seemed to concede that point when saying the doctor “lacks a little bit of experience in terms of races run.” Another concern is Dr Post lost the only time he’s raced on the Belmont Park main track, finishing fourth in a maiden sprint last year. And yet another concern is the 1 1/8-mile Belmont will be the farthest he has ever run.

Final Belmont ranking: Fourth

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Updated Belmont Stakes odds

Current Belmont odds as of 11 a.m. PDT:

1. Tap It to Win 4-1

2. Sole Volante 10-1

3. Max Player 11-1

4. Modernist 18-1

5. Farmington Road 12-1

6. Fore Left 17-1

7. Jungle Runner 20-1

8. Tiz the Law 6-5

9. Dr Post 8-1

10. Pneumatic 15-1

Analysis: The odds are holding pretty solid through early wagering as $1.438 million has been bet to win. Tiz the Law ticked up to 6-5, while Tap It to Win went down to 4-1. Jungle Runner, Dr Post and Pneumatic all dropped one number while Fore Left went up a number.

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Belmont Stakes field: Tiz the Law

Robin Smullen rides Tiz the Law during a workout at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y., on Friday.
(Seth Wenig / Associated Press)

Post 8: Tiz the Law

Trainer: Barclay Tagg

Jockey: Manny Franco

Morning line: 6-5

Jon White analysis:

The case for: There is much to like, hence his 6-5 morning-line favoritism. The belief here is his odds probably will be 4-5 or lower at race time. He’s four for four when racing on a fast track. It appears the track will be fast Saturday. He’s two for two this year, winning the Holy Bull Stakes by three lengths and Florida Derby by 4 1/4 lengths. Franco knows the Constitution colt well. They figure to get a good trip after exiting the gate from post 8. Look for Tiz the Law to lurk within close range of the early pace, then pounce when Franco pushes the button. Another positive is it appears Tiz the Law has trained beautifully up to Saturday’s race. Owner Sackatoga Stable and Tagg came to the 1 1/2-mile Belmont Stakes in 2003 with Funny Cide, who was bidding for a Triple Crown sweep following wins in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. But Funny Cide ended up third as an even-money favorite behind Empire Maker and Ten Most Wanted in the Belmont. Because of Funny Cide, Sackatoga Stable and Tagg will be all the more appreciative if Tiz the Law wins Saturday’s Belmont.

The case against: He has not raced recently, having not started since the March 28 Florida Derby. But even this is not too much of a concern in that it’s not an especially long layoff, plus he’s in the hands of an expert trainer. Maybe the biggest thing going against Tiz the Law is he’s a New York-bred. Guess what? It’s hard to believe, but no New York-bred has won the Belmont in 138 years. The only three New York-breds to have won this New York race were Ruthless in the inaugural 1867 running, Fenian in 1869 and Forester in 1882.

Final Belmont ranking: First

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Belmont Stakes field: Jungle Runner

Post 7: Jungle Runner

Trainer: Steve Asmussen

Jockey: Reylu Gutierrez

Morning line: 50-1

Jon White analysis:

The case for: He has one of the best trainers in the game. Asmussen, who sent out Creator to win the 2016 Belmont, had 8,872 career wins through Wednesday, according to Equibase. But it looks like Asmussen’s best chance by far to get his second Belmont victory is with Pneumatic.

The case against: He has lost his last four starts by 14, 18 3/4, 22, then 22 1/2 lengths. Enough said.

Final Belmont ranking: 10th

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Updated Belmont Stakes odds

Current Belmont odds as of 10 a.m. PDT:

1. Tap It to Win 9-2

2. Sole Volante 10-1

3. Max Player 11-1

4. Modernist 18-1

5. Farmington Road 12-1

6. Fore Left 16-1

7. Jungle Runner 21-1

8. Tiz the Law 1-1

9. Dr Post 9-1

10. Pneumatic 16-1

Analysis: Tiz the Law has ticked down from 6-5 to even money as the racing card has started at Belmont Park. About $461,000 of the $1.206 million in the win pool is on the Barclay Tagg colt. The fact that Modernist is at longer odds than Fore Left is interesting. Fore Left is the only Southern California horse in the race.

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Belmont Stakes field: Fore Left

Belmont Stakes hopeful Fore Left works out on a track at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y., on Thursday.
(Seth Wenig / Associated Press)

Post 6: Fore Left

Trainer: Doug O’Neill

Jockey: Jose Ortiz

Morning line: 30-1

Jon White analysis:

The case for: A surprise entrant in the Belmont, he originally had been slated to run in the shorter Woody Stephens Stakes at seven furlongs Saturday. But O’Neill feels that Fore Left has trained so well on the main track at Belmont Park that it’s worth taking a shot with him in the Belmont Stakes. It is interesting that Fore Left has won the last two times he’s raced on dirt. He won Santa Anita’s Sunny Slope Stakes on dirt Oct. 20 and the UAE 2000 Guineas on dirt Feb. 6 in Dubai in his only 2020 start. Sandwiched between those two wins were defeats in the Golden Nugget Stakes on synthetic footing at Golden Gate and Cecil B. DeMille Stakes on turf at Del Mar. Look for Fore Left to show early speed Saturday. Also keep in mind that in Fore Left’s lone start on the main track at Belmont, he won the Tremont Stakes last year by 4 1/2 lengths. Yes, Fore Left is going to be a big price in the wagering Saturday. But the belief here is it’s not out of the question for him to get into the superfecta. Can he shock the world and win? It seems unlikely, but it would be quite a story if it happened in that his owners, Paul and Zillah Reddam, and O’Neill had to scratch 4-5 morning-line favorite I’ll Have Another from the 2012 Belmont Stakes because of an injury. I’ll Have Another thus was denied a chance for Triple Crown glory after having won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.

The case against: A lack of enthusiasm for Fore Left to win Saturday is understandable when he’s had only one race in early February so far this year. He was supposed to have run in the UAE Derby in Dubai on March 28, but that race was scrapped because of the coronavirus outbreak. In the 1 1/8-mile Belmont, he will have to race farther than ever before. And quite frankly, winning this long of a race against this caliber of competition looks like a tall task for him.

Final Belmont ranking: Ninth

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Belmont Stakes field: Farmington Road

Belmont Stakes hopeful Farmington Road works out on a track at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y., on Thursday.
(Seth Wenig / Associated Press)

Post 5: Farmington Road

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Jockey: Javier Castellano

Morning line: 15-1

Jon White analysis:

The case for: Pletcher is a three-time winning Belmont Stakes trainer, though those victories (with Rags to Riches in 2007, Palace Malice in 2013 and Tapwrit in 2017) all came at the race’s usual 1 1/2-mile distance. Dr Post and Farmington Road give Pletcher two chances to get a fourth Belmont Stakes win. Farmington Road won a maiden race at Tampa Bay Downs on Jan. 12. In three subsequent starts, he has dropped back early and rallied in the stretch when fourth in a division of the Risen Star Stakes won by Mr. Monomoy, second in the Oaklawn Stakes won by Mr. Big News, then fourth in the Arkansas Derby won by Nadal. It’s not hard to envision Farmington Road making a late run to get into the superfecta Saturday. But can he mow them all down? Probably not, but stranger things have happened.

The case against: He’s won only once in six career starts. Chances are he just is not good enough to win a major event like the Belmont when still eligible for a race restricted to non-winners of two lifetime. He looks like he might be the sort who comes on late in the race but, more often than not, does not get the W. In his only start on the Belmont Par main track, he lost by nine lengths.

Final Belmont ranking: Eighth

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Belmont Stakes field: Modernist

Modernist works out on a track at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y., on Thursday.
(Seth Wenig / Associated Press)

Post 4: Modernist

Trainer: Bill Mott

Jockey: Junior Alvarado

Morning line: 15-1

Jon White analysis:

The case for: Mott had been targeting the June 27 Ohio Derby rather than the Belmont for Modernist. But after Modernist worked five furlongs in a sharp 0:59.20 last Sunday on the Belmont Park main track, the trainer decided to go ahead and put the colt in the Belmont. This move by Mott would seem to indicate he feels Modernist is going to give a good account of himself Saturday. Modernist was good enough to win a division of the 1 1/8-mile Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots on Feb. 15. He has not started since finishing third in the 1 3/16-mile Louisiana Derby at that same track March 21. It is a plus for Modernist that he’s already been victorious at the 1 1/8-mile Belmont distance. While it does look like Modernist needs to run better than ever before in order to win the Belmont, one gets the feeling that perhaps we have not seen his best yet. And that makes him dangerous.

The case against: One could reasonably interpret Mott’s serious consideration of originally targeting the Ohio Derby for Modernist as a negative. After all, if Mott had been totally confident all along that Modernist was going to be a major player in the Belmont, why then would the trainer have given any thought to the Ohio Derby? Another concern is that while Modernist did have a sharp workout Sunday on the Belmont Park main track, the only time he’s ever raced on that track, he finished fifth.

Final Belmont ranking: Sixth

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Belmont Stakes latest odds

Current Belmont odds as of 9 a.m. PDT

1. Tap It to Win 4-1

2. Sole Volante 9-1

3. Max Player 11-1

4. Modernist 20-1

5. Farmington Road 11-1

6. Fore Left 18-1

7. Jungle Runner 21-1

8. Tiz the Law 6-5

9. Dr Post 9-1

10. Pneumatic 16-1

Analysis: Not much money in the pool, so these odds will start to take shape around midafternoon. If this were fixed-odds betting, Tiz the Law would be a steal at 6-5. Expect him to be even money or less. Jungle Runner at 21-1 is people shopping for a longshot. He’ll be higher than 50-1.

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Belmont Stakes field: Max Player

Max Player works out on a track at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y., on Thursday.
(Seth Wenig / Associated Press)

Post 3: Max Player

Trainer: Linda Rice

Jockey: Joel Rosario

Morning line: 15-1

Jon White analysis

The case for: The owners of Max Player were so desirous of having Rosario ride the colt that they must pay a double jockey’s fee due to making a late switch from Dylan Davis to Rosario, the stewards ruled. Consequently, whatever Rosario earns in the Belmont, Davis likewise will get. The Daily Racing Form reported that George Hall, who owns a majority interest in Max Player, said he wanted the experience of Rosario, who won the 2019 Belmont Stakes astride Sir Winston. One thing Max Player does not need to prove is he can win a 1 1/8-mile race after having done so when he registered a 3 1/4-length victory in the Withers at Aqueduct earlier this year. Max Player has two wins and a second from three career starts. If he gets the job done Saturday, history will be made, as Rice would become the first female trainer to ever win a Triple Crown race. Though Max Player has not raced since the Withers on Feb. 1, Rice said Wednesday that, with respect to Max Player’s training, “he has improved dramatically in the last 60 days.”

The case against: Even though Rice has been pleased with the way Max Player has trained leading up to the Belmont, the truth of the matter is the lack of a race since Feb. 1 is not ideal. This also will be the toughest group Max Player has faced. And not having previously raced on the Belmont Park main track is still another knock.

Final Belmont ranking: Seventh

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Belmont Stakes field: Sole Volante

Post 2: Sole Volante

Trainer: Patrick Biancone

Jockey: Luca Panici

Morning line: 9-2

Jon White analysis:

The case for: He’s capable of producing a powerful late kick, as was the case when he won the 1 1/16-mile San F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs in February. He was sent away as the 3-2 favorite in the subsequent Tampa Bay Derby at 1 1/8 miles, but had to settle for second when unable to catch King Guillermo. Sole Volante then rallied from last in a field of six to win a one-mile allowance/optional claiming contest at Gulfstream on June 10.

The case against: He has never raced on the Belmont Park main track, so the Kentucky-bred Karakontie gelding is a question mark on that surface. And he has even a shorter period of time between races than Tap It to Win. Sole Volante will be racing again only 10 days after his June 10 triumph. But Biancone demonstrated in 1984 that he can keep a horse in top form even when the horse doesn’t have a whole bunch of time between starts. From Oct. 2 to Nov. 12 in 1984, the Biancone-trained All Along won important races in France, Canada, New York and Maryland en route to being voted America’s Horse of the Year. And if you think 10 days between races isn’t much time, how about what trainer Woody Stephens did with Conquistador Cielo in 1982? After Conquistador Cielo won the Met Mile on May 31, by 7 1/4 lengths against his elders, he splashed home a 14-length winner on a sloppy track just five days later in the 1 1/2-mile Belmont.

Final Belmont ranking: Third

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Belmont Stakes field: Tap It to Win

Tap It to Win works out at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y., on Friday.
(Seth Wenig / Associated Press)

Post 1: Tap It to Win

Trainer: Mark Casse

Jockey: John Velazquez

Morning Line: 6-1

Jon White analysis:

The case for: If he runs like he did in his dazzling allowance victory on June 4 at Belmont Park when he crushed a good field and completed 1 1/16 miles in 1:39.76, he will be one tough dude Saturday. Whenever a horse posts a time like that, it’s very impressive. He was just .54 off the track record. That June 4 win also shows that Tap It to Win likes the main track at Belmont. This is important. Not every horse likes the oval also known as “Big Sandy.” Casse has always been high on this Florida-bred Tapit ridgling, but a sparkling maiden win at Saratoga on the Travers undercard last year was followed by resounding defeats in his next two starts. After losing the Breeders’ Futurity by 43 1/2 lengths at Keeneland in early October, Tap It to Win lost the Street Sense by 21 1/4 lengths at Churchill Downs in October. He injured himself in the Street Sense. Tap It to Win “hit his sesamoid so hard coming out of the gate that doctors had to surgically take a piece of his sesamoid out,” Casse told Daily Racing Form’s David Grening. Tap It to Win has returned to win both starts so far this year. He is expected to show early zip Saturday. He led past every pole in his impressive June 4 win, but he also has won from off the pace. By the way, Casse is on a good roll when it comes to Triple Crown races. He’s seeking his third straight victory in a Triple Crown event after winning last year’s Preakness with War of Will and Belmont with Sir Winston.

The case against: The surprise entry of Fore Left does not help. Without Fore Left, there was a chance that Tap It to Win might get away with an uncontested early lead. That’s unlikely now. Inasmuch as Tap It to Win has never won a stakes race, he just might not be good enough to win this race. Also, whenever a horse runs a big race, there is a possibility the horse will regress or “bounce.” Tap It to Win certainly is a candidate to regress off his June 4 race in that not only was it fast, he is coming back quickly in just 10 days. But keep in mind that Got Stormy had but seven days between starts when she won Saratoga’s Fourstardave Handicap by 2 1/2 lengths last year in a lights-out performance in which her final time of 1:32.00 broke the course record for 1 1/16 miles.

Final Belmont ranking: Second

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What time does the 2020 Belmont Stakes start?

One thing about this year in sports is that nothing is as it used to be, especially when it comes to timing. All of which begs the question: What time is Saturday’s Belmont Stakes?

In a normal year, it would be going off around 6:40 p.m. in Elmont, N.Y., and all up and down the East Coast. But this year, it’s like coming out of daylight saving time and you have to set your watch an hour earlier for a 5:42 p.m. start.

Of course, you can do the math, but we’ll give you a little help. In Los Angeles, that’s 2:42 p.m., or 3:42 p.m. in the Mountain time zone and 4:42 p.m. if you live in the Midwest, or Central, time zone.

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