by Keith McCalmont
Tournament veteran Tony Zhou bested a field of 68 horseplayers to capture the 2022 Belmont Stakes Challenge, which was contested online via NYRA Bets and on-track at Belmont Park during the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival.
Zhou, a 38-year-old New York City resident, took home $85,800 in prize money plus $52,945.50 in live bankroll for a total of $138,745.50. With the victory, Zhou secured a seat at the 2022 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge in November at Keeneland.
The Belmont Stakes Challenge was a live-money contest featuring a $5,000 Entry Fee [$3,500 in Live Money Wagers/$1,500 to Prize Pool], contributing to a prize pool that the New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) seeded with $50,000 - including $40,000 to the winner and $10,000 to the runner-up.
Contestants were permitted to make Win, Place, Show, Exacta, Trifecta, Quinella, and Daily Double wagers and required to wager a minimum of $200 per race on at least five separate Challenge Races conducted on Friday; and an additional $500 per race on a minimum of five separate Challenge Races conducted on Saturday.
Zhou was in third place heading into the final challenge race of the contest – the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets. A field of eight lined up in the 1 1/2-mile “Test of the Champion” and Zhou staked his chances on the 5-2 favorite Mo Donegal, who would be piloted by Irad Ortiz, Jr. for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher.
Mo Donegal, who was also in third position through 10 furlongs of the 12-furlong test, made a four-wide move at the top of the lane and edged clear to a three-length score over his filly stablemate Nest.
TOP THREE FINISHERS
PLAYER / PRIZE MONEY / LIVE BANKROLL
Tony Zhou / $85,800 / $52,945.50
Christian Hellmers / $32,900 / $70,900
Travis Pearson / $13,740 / $29,928
Zhou took to social media to express his satisfaction after securing his first Belmont Stakes Challenge title.
“After 3rd and 2nd place finishes in previous years, getting this win in a major brought pure joy,” Zhou said via Twitter. “My 1st day at the races was Belmont Stakes 2010 when I left with an empty wallet. I vowed to figure out the game and with some hard work and deliberate practice, things do work out!”
Horseplayers are invited to take part in NYRA's Belmont Saturday live-money contests which are available online through NYRA Bets; pre-registration is required. Upcoming contest dates include, Saturday, June 18; Saturday, June 25; Saturday, July 2; and Saturday, July 9. For more information, please visit https://www.nyra.com/belmont/racing/handicapping-contests.
NYRA Bets is the official wagering platform of Belmont Park, and the best way to bet every race of the spring/summer meet. Available to horseplayers nationwide, the NYRA Bets app is available for download today on iOS and Android at www.NYRABets.com.
NYRA Press Office