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With No Triple Crown on the Line, Belmont Handle Drops from 2018

Saturday’s Belmont Stakes did not have the drama of previous years, when a Triple Crown was at stake. However, even without history on the line, the race and Belmont Park’s entire Saturday card still attracted plenty of interest.

Sir Winston holds off Tacitus to win the Belmont Stakes Saturday in New York. The Mark Casse-trained colt’s next race may also take place in New York as the trainer noted he’s considering the horse for the Travers Stakes in August. (Image: Longines)

The New York Racing Authority announced that bettors wagered $102.2 million for all 13 races, with $53.2 bet on the Grade I stakes race won by Sir Winston. That handle set a record for the authority in a non-Triple Crown year. The previous mark was in 2017 when $93.7 million was wagered.

In 2018, with Justify winning the Triple Crown, nearly $138 million was bet on the track’s stakes-day card. The overall record was set five years ago, when fans watching whether California Chrome would win the Triple Crown gambled $151.1 million on that day’s races.

Three weeks ago, Pimlico set a record this year with nearly $99.9 million bet on this year’s 14-race Preakness Card. Of that, $54.4 million was bet on the Triple Crown race won by War of Will.

Churchill Downs announced a record-breaking handle for its Kentucky Derby card, as $250.9 million was bet on the Louisville track’s 14-race card. The Derby itself accounted for $165.5 million of those betting dollars.

Travers Next for Casse’s Colts?

Sir Winston, a 10-1 shot, gave trainer Mark Casse his second Triple Crown race win in as many tries, after getting to the winner’s circle in Baltimore with War of Will.

While War of Will finished ninth in the 10-horse race, Casse said he’s considering him and Sir Winston for the Travers Stakes in August at Saratoga. Casse said the “real” War of Will, who won two Kentucky Derby prep races in the spring, didn’t show up in Saturday.

As far as War of Will, first we’ll have a couple days and make sure how he is. Probably send him back to Kentucky (and) give him a little break,” Casse said.

Another horse who may head upstate is Tax, who finished fourth in the Belmont. Trainer Danny Gargan noted the timing of the Aug. 24 race might work in his favor.

“This horse does his best running when he has eight weeks between starts, so we’ll see where we’re at,” Gargan said.

Other Horses Coming Back

The next major race for 3-year-olds is the Haskell Invitational, scheduled for July 20 at Monmouth Park in New Jersey, and it will likely feature Maximum Security. The Jason Servis-trained colt who finished first in the Kentucky Derby but was disqualified and placed to 17th after stewards ruled he interfered with horses in the final turn.

Joevia, who finished third in the Belmont, may be a challenger in that race. The Asbury Park Press reported that Gregg Sacco, Joevia’s trainer, is based out of Monmouth and was pleased with how his colt performed last weekend.

Meanwhile, Country House, the 65-1 shot who ended up winning the Kentucky Derby after Maximum Security’s disqualification, will likely race next on July 27 in the Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga. Trainer Bill Mott, who finished second in the Belmont with Tactius, kept the Derby winner out of the remaining Triple Crown races due to a respiratory issue.

One horse though that may not be coming back any time soon is Omaha Beach. The Richard Mandella-trained colt was the morning line Derby favorite, but his handlers scratched him on the Wednesday before the race due to an entrapped epiglottis.

Horse Racing Nation reported Tuesday that’s the colt’s recovery from the surgery has taken longer than initially expected. As a result, the Arkansas Derby winner will likely miss out on competing in either the Haskell or Travers.

“The throat is much better, but not perfect yet,” Mandella told the website. “When it’s perfect, we’ll begin to go the racetrack.”

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