|This article needs additional citations for verification. (May 2014)|
|Grade I race|
The final and longest leg of the
United States Triple Crown
Elmont, New York
|Distance||1 1⁄2 miles (12 furlongs)|
|Record||2:24, Secretariat (1973)|
|Weight||Colt/Gelding: 126 pounds (57 kg); Filly: 121 pounds (55 kg)|
The Belmont Stakes is an American grade I stakes Thoroughbred horse race held every June at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York. It is a 1.5 miles (2.4 km) horse race, open to three-year-old Thoroughbreds. Colts and geldings carry a weight of 126 pounds (57 kg); fillies carry 121 pounds (55 kg). The race, nicknamed The Test of the Champion, is the third and final leg of the Triple Crown and is held five weeks after the Kentucky Derby and three weeks after the Preakness Stakes, on a Saturday between June 5 and June 11. The 1973 Belmont Stakes and Triple Crown winner Secretariat holds the mile and a half stakes record (which is also a track and world record on dirt) of 2:24.
The attendance at the Belmont Stakes ranks fourth in North America, and typically trails only the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Kentucky Oaks. The 2004 Belmont Stakes drew a television audience of 21.9 million viewers, and had the highest household viewing rate since 1977 when Seattle Slew won the Triple Crown.
The first Belmont Stakes was held at Jerome Park Racetrack in The Bronx, built in 1866 by stock market speculator Leonard Jerome (1817–1891) and financed by August Belmont, Sr. (1816–1890), for whom the race was named. The race continued to be held at Jerome Park until 1890, when it was moved to the nearby facility, Morris Park Racecourse. The race remained there until the May 1905 opening of the new Belmont Park, 430 acres (1.7 km2) racetrack in Elmont, New York, on Long Island just outside the New York City borough of Queens.
When anti-gambling legislation was passed in New York State, Belmont Racetrack was closed, and the race was cancelled in 1911 and 1912.
The first post parade in the United States was at the 14th Belmont, in 1880. Before 1921, the race was run in the clockwise tradition of English racing. Since then, the race has been run in the American, or counter-clockwise, direction. The winner of the Belmont Stakes is presented the August Belmont Trophy, one of the most prestigious trophies in the country.
Because of its length (one lap around the enormous Belmont main track), and because it is the final race of the Triple Crown, it is called the "Test of the Champion". Most three-year-olds are unaccustomed to the distance, and lack the experience, if not the stamina, to maintain a winning speed for so long. In a long race such as the Belmont, positioning of the horse and the timing of the move to chase for the lead can be critical.
The race was held at Aqueduct Racetrack from 1963 to 1967, while the track at Belmont was restored and renovated.
Evolution of the Triple Crown series
Since 1931, the order of Triple Crown races has been the Kentucky Derby first, followed by the Preakness Stakes, and then the Belmont Stakes. Prior to 1931, eleven times the Preakness was run before the Derby. On May 12, 1917 and again on May 13, 1922, the Preakness and the Derby were run on the same day. On eleven occasions, the Belmont Stakes was run before the Preakness Stakes.
The Belmont Stakes is held on the first Saturday that falls on or after June 5. The Kentucky Derby is always held on the first Saturday in May; the Preakness Stakes is held two weeks later; and the Belmont Stakes is held three weeks after the Preakness. The earliest possible date for the Derby is May 1, and the latest is May 7; the earliest possible date for the Belmont is June 5, and the latest is June 11.
The first winner of the Triple Crown was Sir Barton, in 1919. On June 9, 1973, Secretariat won the Belmont Stakes by thirty-one lengths, in a record time of 2:24, becoming a U.S. Triple Crown champion that year. His record still stands as the fastest speed for the Belmont Stakes. Count Fleet won the race by the large margin of twenty-five lengths in 1943. 1989 winner Easy Goer ran the second fastest time of 2:26. Easy Goer also holds a Beyer Speed Figure of 122 for the race, the best of any Triple Crown race since these ratings were first published in 1987.
Affirmed was the last winner of the Triple Crown, taking the Belmont Stakes in 2:26 4/5 on June 10, 1978. Ridden by eighteen-year-old Steve Cauthen, Affirmed defeated rival Alydar with Jorge Velasquez in the saddle. At the time the race was the third slowest start and the third fastest finish with the quarter in 25, the half in 50, 3/4 in 1:14, the mile in 1:37 2/5.
Belmont Park saw its largest crowd in its history when 120,139 people witnessed the Belmont Stakes in 2004 when Smarty Jones was seeking the Triple Crown but was upset by Birdstone. The largest crowd of the 20th century was in 1971 with over 80,000 people, supplemented by the city's Latino community, there to cheer on their new hero, Canonero II, the Venezuelan colt who had won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes and was poised to win the U.S. Triple Crown. However, due to a foot infection that had bothered the horse for several days, Canonero II failed to win the Triple Crown when he struggled across the finish line in 4th place behind Pass Catcher, ridden by Walter Blum. Despite this loss, Canonero II was named the winner of the first Eclipse Award for Outstanding Three-Year-Old Male Horse.
Changes in distance
The Belmont Stakes was run at a mile and five furlongs from 1867 to 1873; a mile and a quarter in 1890, 1891, 1892, 1895, 1904 and 1905; a mile and a furlong in 1893 and 1894; a mile and three furlongs from 1896 to 1903 and from 1906 to 1925. The current distance of a mile and half was established in 1926.
The Belmont Stakes is traditionally called "The Test of The Champion" or "Run for the Carnations" because the winning horse is draped with a blanket of white carnations after the race, in similar fashion to the blanket of roses and black-eyed susans for the Derby and Preakness, respectively. The winning owner is ceremonially presented with the silver winner's trophy, designed by Paulding Farnham for Tiffany and Co. It was first presented to August Belmont, Jr. in 1896 and donated by the Belmont family for annual presentation in 1926.
Despite the fact that the Belmont Stakes is the oldest of the Triple Crown races, its traditions have been more subject to change. Until 1996, the post parade song was "The Sidewalks of New York". From 1997 to 2009, the song was changed to broadcast a recording by Frank Sinatra of the "Theme from New York, New York" in an attempt to appeal to younger fans. In 2010, the song was changed to Jay-Z's "Empire State of Mind" before reverting to "Theme from New York, New York" from 2011 through the present. This tradition is similar to the singing of the state song at the post parades of the first two Triple Crown races: "My Old Kentucky Home" at the Kentucky Derby and "Maryland, My Maryland" at the Preakness Stakes. The change of song gave rise to “the myth of Mamie O’Rourke,” a reference to a character in the lyrics of "The Sidewalks of New York." Some claim that changing the official Belmont song "cursed" the Triple Crown and was why no horse had won since Affirmed in 1978. Others note that there was no Triple Crown winner between 1979 and 1996, even though "Sidewalks" was still played.
Along with the change of song in 1997, the official drink was also changed, from the "White Carnation" to the "Belmont Breeze." The New York Times reviewed both cocktails unfavorably, calling the Belmont Breeze "a significant improvement over the nigh undrinkable White Carnation" despite the fact that it "tastes like a refined trashcan punch."
From 1986 until 2005, the Triple Crown television rights comprised a single package. In late 2004, the New York Racing Association withdrew from that agreement to negotiate independently. As a result of this NBC, who was the rights holder for all three events, was only able to keep its broadcast rights to the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. ABC regained the rights to the Belmont Stakes as part of a five-year contract that expired following the 2010 race; NBC has since regained the rights to the race.
- CBS Sports 1960–1985
- ABC Sports 1986–2000
- NBC Sports 2001–2005, 2011–2015
- ESPN on ABC 2006–2010
- 2:24.00 – Secretariat (1973)
Record Victory Margin:
Most wins by a jockey:
- 6 – Jim McLaughlin, Eddie Arcaro
- 5 – Earl Sande, Bill Shoemaker
- 3 – Braulio Baeza, Pat Day, Laffit Pincay, Jr., James Stout, Gary Stevens
Most wins by a trainer:
- 8 – James G. Rowe, Sr.
- 7 – Sam Hildreth
- 6 – Jim Fitzsimmons
- 5 – Woody Stephens (all consecutive from 1982 to 1986)
- 4 – Max Hirsch, D. Wayne Lukas, R. Wyndham Walden
- 3 – J. Elliott Burch, John M. Gaver, Sr., Lucien Laurin, Frank McCabe, David McDaniel
Most wins by an owner:
- 6 – Belair Stud (1930, 1932, 1935, 1936, 1939, 1955)
- 6 – James R. Keene (1879, 1901, 1904, 1907, 1908, 1910)
- 5 – Dwyer Brothers Stable (1883, 1884, 1886, 1887, 1888)
- 4 – August Belmont, Jr./Blemton Stable (1896, 1902, 1916, 1917)
- 4 – Harry P. Whitney (1905, 1906, 1913, 1918)
- 4 – Glen Riddle Farm (1920, 1925, 1926, 1937)
- 4 – Greentree Stable (1931, 1942, 1949, 1968)
- Only James G. Rowe, Sr. and George M. Odom have won the Belmont Stakes as both jockey and trainer.
- On June 5, 1993 Thoroughbred racing's all-time leading female jockey, Julie Krone, became the first woman to win a Triple Crown race when she rode to victory in the Belmont Stakes aboard Colonial Affair.
- In 1984, Sarah Lundy became the first female trainer to saddle a horse in the Belmont Stakes.
- The 2004 race had the biggest attendance in the park's history with 120,139.
- Sarava, at odds of 70–1, upset War Emblem's bid for the Triple Crown.
- Braulio Baeza has the distinction of winning three Belmont Stakes over three different surfaces. He won in his Belmont Stakes debut on 65 to 1 long-shot Sherluck in 1961 at the old Belmont Park, won in 1963 on Chateaugay when the race was run at Aqueduct, and won in 1969 on Arts and Letters at the new Belmont Park.
Three fillies have won the Belmont: Ruthless in 1867, Tanya in 1905, and Rags to Riches in 2007. By comparison, three fillies have won the Kentucky Derby. On average, fillies have won between 2% and 3% of the Triple Crown races, with similar numbers for geldings; while about 95% of these races have been won by colts.
- 1874 – Saxon
- 1898 – Bowling Brook
- 1917 – Hourless
- 1918 – Johren
- 1957 – Gallant Man
- 1958 – Cavan
- 1960 – Celtic Ash
- 1990 – Go And Go
- 1998 – Victory Gallop
Belmont Stakes winners
- Note: Timed to the 1/4 second 1867 to 1901 and 1903, to the 1/5 second 1902 and 1904 to 2001, then to the 1/100 since 2002 as well as in 1992.
Note: D. Wayne Lukas swept the 1995 Triple Crown with two different horses.
- Triple Crown Productions
- American Thoroughbred Racing top Attended Events
- List of Belmont Stakes broadcasters
- Belmont Stakes Top three finishers
- "Viewership of 2008 Belmont Stakes".
- "Belmont Stakes Records & Traditions". New York Racing Association. Retrieved 2011-11-04.
- "Preakness Stakes". Turfnsport.com. Retrieved 2010-10-07.
- Beyer, Andrew (May 17, 2004). "On the Fast Track To History". The Washington Post.
- "Belmont Stakes Traditions". Horseracing.about.com. 2010-06-15. Retrieved 2010-10-07.
- The Associated Press (June 4, 2010). "The Belmont Stakes singing a new tune". newsobserver.com. Retrieved June 19, 2012.
- The Associated Press (June 4, 2011). "Sinatra’s voice returns to Belmont Stakes". boston.com. Retrieved June 19, 2012.
- Scheinman, John (2014-05-30). "Five Myths About the Triple Crown". Washington Post. Retrieved 2014-05-30.
- "Belmont Stakes Traditions". Horseracing.about.com. 2010-06-15. Retrieved 2010-10-07.
- Powell, Julie (June 8, 2005). "The Summer Cook; The Appetites Are Nearing the Gate". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-06-09.
- Scheinman, John (October 5, 2004). "ABC Will Broadcast Belmont Stakes Starting in 2006". The Washington Post.
- Novy, Eben (February 22, 2011). "NBC Gets Belmont TV Rights to Complete Horse Racing's Triple Crown Package". Bloomberg. Retrieved 2012-05-08.
- "Belmont Stakes Attendance, Wagering Set Records". BloodHorse.com. Retrieved 2010-10-07.
- Dandrea, Phil. Sham: Great Was Second Best. Acanthus Publishing.
- Belmont Stakes Website
- ESPN.Com Attending the Belmont Stakes (gives future race dates)
- Details of all past Belmont Stakes courtesy of the New York Racing Association
- Belmont Stakes History & Facts
- Ten Things You Should Know about the Belmont Stakes at Hello Race Fans!