The best longshot to bet in the 2024 Belmont Stakes

June 5th, 2024

The Belmont S. (G1) has had its share of offbeat winners over the years, but not so many in the past decade. Since 2015, Triple Crown winners American Pharoah and Justify, along with Tiz the Law, Essential Quality, and Mo Donegal, all prevailed as the public's choice in the "Test of the Champion."

There's a couple new wrinkles to the 2024 Belmont, as well as the one that will be held next year. Both editions will be contested over a reduced distance of 1 1/4 miles at Saratoga, while Belmont Park undergoes a complete refurbishment of its facility.

Handicapping a 1 1/4-mile race on dirt is rather different than handicapping the increasingly rare 1 1/2-mile race on dirt. But from my viewpoint, it really doesn't matter what the distance of this year's Belmont is. Following his effort in the Kentucky Derby (G1) five weeks ago, probable favorite Sierra Leone was going to be, and is, my top selection.

That being said, the topic of this piece is the best longshot to bet in the Belmont. Although I find the race itself potentially formful on paper, especially if the track is wet, there is one longer-priced hope bettors might consider to hit the frame.

#2 Resilience (10-1) has outrun expectations multiple times this season. The first was in the Risen Star (G2) at Fair Grounds, his stakes debut. Sent away at close to 17-1 having just exited the maiden ranks, Resilience was beaten only 3 1/2 lengths by Sierra Leone, with two other stakes veterans also placing ahead of him.

After comfortably winning the Wood Memorial (G2) next out in his first start with blinkers, Resilience was a big price again in the Kentucky Derby. Breaking from post 18 at more than 31-1, Resilience turned in a credible effort.

In a race which favored the ground-saving Mystik Dan and deep closers like Sierra Leone and Forever Young, Resilience's five-wide bid at the quarter pole, into the teeth of a fast pace, was a solid move. He wasn't quite good enough to stay on through the stretch, but finishing sixth while more illustrious names struggled even more leant credence to his performance.

The gap between Sierra Leone and Resilience widened to 7 3/4 lengths in the Derby, and trainer Bill Mott has debated in the interim whether Resilience would not be better suited going shorter. Given his effort in the 1 1/8-mile Wood Memorial, distance is probably not the overriding concern.

Yes, Resilience will have to come on from what we've seen over his last several starts, and also have his primary rivals decline some in form. Not only Sierra Leone, but the other classic winners Mystik Dan and Seize the Grey, plus new shooters like Mindframe.

Resilience is far from the finished article, but his record this year suggests he stands a strong chance of again outrunning his likely double-digit price. For this reason, he looks like the longer shot to keep an eye in this unconventional renewal of the nation's oldest classic.