Belmont Stakes Day Strange Betting Stories; TV Ratings Up

June 16, 2011 | Gary Quill

On Belmont Stakes Day (June 11, 2011) if anyone was watching TVG (one of the horse racing networks) you may have seen this… co-hosts Ken Rudolph & Todd Schupp were on set at Belmont Park talking about the Late Pick-4 (races 10-13) when a guy walks behind them yelling, “Play all the Joses!!!”. Translated, in each of those four remaining races on the card, there was at least one jockey with the first name of “Jose” with a mount.


Race 10 had two Joses… Lezcano on #2 Bold Hawk (25-1) and Espinoza on #1A Mission Approved (21-1).  Race 11 (Belmont Stakes) had Jose Valdivia, Jr. on #3 Ruler on Ice (24-1) and Lezcano on #7 Monzon (28-1).  In the 12th race Lezcano was on #5 Dr. W (8-1) while Espinoza was aboard #8 Russian Sage (7-2). In the finale, race 13 Lezcano rode #6 A Rod (6-1) and Espinoza #7 Austerity Measures (44-1).


Jose Espinoza        Jose Lezcano      Jose Valdivia, Jr.

Jose Espinoza               Jose Lezcano                             Jose Valdivia, Jr.



So if you would have taken the subtle hint from the loud mouth, a $1 Pick-4 Part-Wheel bet on 1, 2 w/ 3, 7 w/ 5, 8 w/ 6, 7 cost a total of $16. Well, race 10 (1st Leg) was won by Jose Espinoza on #1A Mission Approved then race 11 (2nd Leg), Ruler On Ice won the Belmont Stakes with Jose Valdivia, Jr. in the irons.  


In the aftermath of the Belmont Stakes, while the TVG on-air personalities discussed what has just occurred and killing time prior to the next race, the “Play all the Joses” guy appears in the background again, this time yelling at them, “I told you… ALL THE JOSES’!!! “.


So you know what’s coming… in the 12th and 13th races, jockey Jose Lezcano is aboard both winners, #5 Dr. W in the 12th and #6 A Rod in the 13th.  The winning late Pick-4 combination of 1-3-5-6, based on a $1 wager returned $56,349.


There was another oddity that played out a few races earlier at Belmont that day, also involving the Pick-4 wager. Starting in race 8 and ending with the Belmont Stakes (race 11), for the minimum amount (50 cents) if you were eccentric and wanted to guarantee winning this Pick-4 bet, thus having every horse in all 4 races (i.e. ALL-ALL-ALL-ALL ticket), costing a mere $2,430 you would have won $35,524.25. Go figure.


If you have any similar stories from Belmont Day or any day at the track I’d like to here them, so please comment.


Onto the television ratings, that from year to year can be very misleading. Every year on the first Saturday in May, when thoroughbred horse racing takes center stage for the running of the Kentucky Derby, fans of all levels of interest have hope that this will be the year we witness the first Triple Crown winner since 1978. Then two weeks later the anticipation turns to anxiety as we desperately hold onto hope that the Derby winner can prevail in the Preakness. If he does, then it’s a ratings bonanza for the network covering the Triple Crown. But if he doesn’t, the Belmont could sink into ratings hell.


Even though the Belmont could not offer a Triple Crown possibility, they could offer the next best thing, a rubber match between the Derby winner Animal Kingdom and Preakness winner Shackleford. That’s what NBC Sports sold and the public bought it.


The overnight rating for the race portion was a 4.8, up 55 percent over the overnight for the race portion of the broadcast last year on ABC. The pre-race portion of the broadcast, from 5 p.m. to 6:15 p.m. EDT, received a 2.6 rating, up 86 percent over the pre-race last year of 1.4.


NBC is in the first year of a five-year contract to broadcast all three races of the Triple Crown. That’s great news for both NBC and thoroughbred horse racing, not so much for ESPN and its parent ABC. In addition, ESPN bit itself “where the sun don’t shine” on Memorial Day, the day the Indianapolis 500 is run.


The ESPN website poll question was “What is your favorite race?” There were 3 answers to chose from… Daytona 500, Indy 500 or Kentucky Derby. The results showed…

     Kentucky Derby   43%

     Daytona 500         36%

     Indy 500                21%


So much for the theory that thoroughbred horse racing only appeals to a very small audience.