A novice’s guide to watching the Belmont Stakes on TV

It’s probably safe to assume that many people tuning into NBC’s coverage of the Belmont Stakes Saturday have watched little to no horseracing in the past. But that will be the case Saturday as millions of viewers will turn to their TVs to see if I’ll Have Another will be the first horse in 34 years to win the elusive Triple Crown.

With I’ll Have Another already victorious at the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, we sought out national horseracing expert Frank Carulli to get some perspective on the race, tips on how best to watch it, and his prediction on how it will unfold. Carulli is a racing analyst and handicapper at Laurel Hills and Pimlico, the latter of which is the home of the Preakness.

UPDATE 6/8/12: I’LL HAVE ANOTHER HAS BEEN SCRATCHED FROM THE RACE DUE TO TENDINITIS, SO THERE WILL BE NO TRIPLE CROWN WINNER THIS YEAR.

Many more people will be watching the Belmont Saturday due to the possibility of a Triple Crown winner. What are your thoughts on the additional buzz for the sport?

I’m not sure how many viewers they will draw, but I know NBC Sports has expanded its coverage and Belmont is expecting a crowd of 120,000.

There have been 19 horses who have won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness before failing to win the Belmont. What is it about the track that makes the Triple Crown so elusive?

The Triple Crown has proven elusive because of the demand on a 3-year-old thoroughbred to run three Triple Crown races in a 5-week span and at an the unchartered distance of 1-1/2 miles at the Belmont.

Can you put into perspective what it would mean historically if I’ll Have Another wins the Triple Crown?

Historically, I’ll Have Another can become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978 and join such greats as Secretariat, Citation and Seattle Slew on the list of racing immortals.

Explain the kind of impact the weather and track conditions could have Saturday.

If the chance of isolated thunderstorms become reality at Belmont Saturday, some horses could improve on the “off track” and others might falter. It’s all subjective, of course, but bettors evaluate “off track” pedigree in varying degrees. The more relevant factor is the 1-1/2-mile distance and which horses are bred to run that long

What should novice horseracing viewers look for when watching the race?

When watching the race, turn up the volume and listen to the race call. The announcers are very accurate and will give you a feel for where and how well your horse is traveling. The numbers that they post at the bottom of the TV screen are okay to follow, because they will be more accurate in a 1-1/2-mile race as opposed to a 6F sprint (six-eights of a mile) where the field is more bunched.

What advice would you give to recreational spectators in terms of picking a horse to win, and what is your prediction?

I generally pick against Triple Crown hopefuls, but I believe I’ll Have Another will win. He overcame post 19 to win the Kentucky Derby and overcame sub-par racing luck to win a dramatic Preakness. His main rival, Bodemeister, is skipping the Belmont, and the race set-up should suit him perfectly. Breaking from post 11 is no problem at Belmont with a long run to the first turn. I’ll Have Another will offer little value to those wagering on the race, so to try and make some money, play exactas and trifectas with I’ll Have Another (#11) over longshot My Adonis (#12) and Dullahan (#5). Good Luck!

Channel Guide does not encourage or discourage legal wagering, and Mr. Carulli’s horse selections are his own, and are not intended to reflect any endorsements by Channel Guide.

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