DraftKings Race Director Johnny Avello Previews 2023 Belmont Stakes

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Written By Giovanni Shorter | Last Updated
Johnny Avello Belmont Stakes

The 2023 Belmont Stakes is Saturday, June 10. Horse racing enthusiast and DraftKings Director of Race & Sportsbook Operations Johnny Avello spoke with TheLines.com about the festivities. Among the topics: the 50th anniversary of the Secretariat’s historic Belmont Stakes run, the DK Horse app, if there are any dark horses in the race to look out for, and more.

Johnny Avello On The 50th Anniversary Of Secretariat

This Belmont Stakes is special because it marks the 50th anniversary of the Secretariat’s race. This is possibly the most famous Triple Crown run of all time. The legendary horse finished 31 lengths ahead of the competition, setting the Belmont track record at 2:24. We asked Avello about the impact of this legendary run.

“Well, I think that was talked about for, you know, so many years after, we’re still talking about it today,” said Avello. “As a matter of fact, we were thinking of how do we tie in promotions to that race….Will any horse win by 31 and a half lengths? Will any horse run 2:24 or better? But they’re just unrealistic numbers. There’s no horse that’s ever probably going to be able to duplicate what those numbers were for Secretariat. That was a special animal. Anybody that’s been around the game for a while knows that and continues to talk about it.”

Triple Crown Races Are Always Huge

We then asked Avello about how the air of the 50th anniversary will affect this upcoming race.

“I think always the Triple Crown, if there’s a Triple Crown on the line then the Belmont will be a huge event,” continued Avello. “If there’s not a Triple Crown on the line then it’s still going to be a huge event.”

Avello believes that this year’s race will be special regardless of the 50th anniversary or not. The Belmont Stakes is one of the Triple Crown races alongside the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. These are the biggest horse racing events every year.

“When you look at all the races for the day it’s a special card. There’s a lot of great 1’s there’s a lot of great 2’s….It’s just going to be an event for racing fans.”

Even so, Avello admits that he expects the 50th anniversary to be a major talking point during the festivities.

“The 50th anniversary what does it mean? It’s something to talk about,” said Avello. “100 is more important than 50, 50 is more important than 25. I think they’ll always be a number to associate with that particular day….There’s going to be a lot of conversation around the 50th.”

Why Preakness Winner National Treasure Isn’t The Favorite

Looking closer to tomorrow’s race, the winner of Preakness Stakes, National Treasure, is not coming into Belmont as the favorite. Avello believes it’s the three-year-old colt’s performance in the Preakness that’s the reason.

“Well because in the Preakness it was a softer field, to begin with,” said Avello on National Treasure. “And the goal for National Treasure was to get to the lead, set slow fractions, and have something left at the end of the race. I still think that’s the goal for him to run that way. Except there’s going to be two or three or four horses that are gonna be looming large you know when it gets to the head of the stretch. It’s a bigger stretch. National Treasure’s times weren’t that great for the Preakness. You know he figured for that race. This race here if he wins it I think it’ll be a mild surprise.”

National Treasure won the Preakness with a time of 1:55.12. This was also the horse’s only first-place race of the year and second for their career in six starts. A look at the morning odds shows that racing bettors are leaning towards Forte who has had two first-place wins this year and is coming off of a 1:49.37 run at the Florida Derby.

Post PositionHorseMorning Line OddsOwnerTrainerJockey
1Tapit Shoes20-1Spendthrift Farm et alBrad CoxJose Ortiz
2Tapit Trice3-1Whisper Hill Farm, Gainesway StableTodd PletcherLuis Saez
3Arcangelo8-1Blue Rose FarmJena AntonucciJavier Castellano
4National Treasure5-1SF Racing et alBob BaffertJohn R. Velazquez
5Il Miracolo30-1AlexandresAntonio SanoMarcos Meneses
6Forte5-2Repole StableTodd PletcherIrad Ortiz, Jr.
7Hit Show10-1Gary & Mary WestBrad CoxManny Franco
8Angel of Empire7-2Albaugh Family StablesBrad CoxFlavien Prat
9Red Route One15-1Winchell ThoroughbredsSteve AsmussenJoel Rosario

Avello’s Dark Horses To Look Out For

Finally, Avello makes note of some dark horses fans should look out for. With underdogs winning the majority of the races, this could be the direction bettors lean towards.

“In horse racing, the underdogs do win,” said Avello. “They win probably 60, 65 percent of the time. The favorite wins probably 30, 35 percent of the time. I think some horses to take a look at is maybe like a Hit Show. And the reason I pick out Hit Show is, in the Derby, he came out of the #1 post which is a really difficult post to run out of. And he ran a pretty fair race. And he seems to be improving. So he’d be one.”

Hit Show will be running out of the more favorable #7 post which should lead to a stronger performance.

“There’s a horse named Arcangelo,” continued Avello. “He’s trained by a female trainer. That’s a good story. He’s got a couple of solid victories in his last couple of races….You know he’s got a good jockey on him so that also will be a good story. Those are a couple longer shots to keep in mind.”

Closer Look At The DK Horse App

This is the first Belmont Stakes that the DK Horse betting app will be live. We asked Avello more about the new horse racing betting product.

“Well firstly the DK Horse app has more content than you can ever imagine,” said Avello. “Besides the Belmont, we’ll have promotions up for the Belmont. You’ll be able to bet the race, watch the race, get past performances. But you can do that on races around the country, around the world. We offer races in Hong Kong, European racing, there’s racing around the clock. I think that’s what kind of separates us from some of the others is that content that we have. Just a huge menu for race players to play.”