A Brief History of the Belmont Stakes
One of the oldest Grade one horse races, this will be the 154th Belmont Stakes meeting. The first took place back in 1867 when it was held at Jerome Park in The Bronx. Jerome Park was built in 1866 and financed by August Belmont Senior, from whom the race took its name. Morris Park became the new Belmont Stakes racecourse from 1895 and remained so until 1905 when Belmont Park was opened. In 1911 and 1912 Belmont racecourse was closed due to anti-gambling legislation being passed and the race was cancelled. The current August Belmont Trophy is traditionally awarded to the winner for one year and it was first presented in 1926.
It was during the 1930s that the Triple Crown came to prominence and the Belmont Stakes fell into this bracket as the last of the Triple Crown races each season. To complete the Triple Crown the Belmont Stakes is included with the most prestigious flat races in the United States calendar including the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes. The races are seasonally run in this order, however, the covid pandemic saw the order of the races temporarily changed in 2020 when the Belmont was the first to be run in June.
Having opened in 1905, Belmont Park was due for renovation and modernisation in the 1960s and was closed for racing between 1963 and 1967 which saw the Belmont Stakes moved to Aqueduct Racetrack. Moving back to Belmont Park, the venue was rewarded with one of the largest crowds of the last century with over 80,000 people. In 2002 the largest crowd in its prestigious history saw just over 103,000 people attend Belmont Stakes-day. Sadly, 2020 saw the lowest crowd as the races went ahead without spectators due to the covid pandemic.
Famous Belmont Stakes Horses
Only three fillies have ever won the Belmont Stakes and one of them was called Ruthless. This was at the inaugural Belmont Stakes back in 1867. Ruthless made 11 career starts and won seven of these races.
Sir Barton was a horse that changed ownership in 1918 for $10,000 for not performing on the race track despite his training promise. Later that year Sir Barton came second in the Belmont Futurity only afterwards to be nursed for the remainder of 1918 having been kicked by another horse, which cut the left hind and resulted in blood poisoning. In 1919 Sir Barton became the first horse to win the Triple Crown. The following year in 1920 Man o’ War set a Belmont Stakes record winning by 20 lengths and winning 9 out of 10 starts that season. Man o’ War was also the stud of War Admiral who was the fourth horse to win the Triple Crown in 1937 and had a career of 21 wins from 26.
A horse named Secretariat was also known as ‘Big Red’ and was the first horse in 25 years that went on to win the Belmont Stakes and the Triple Crown. Winning the Belmont Stakes by a jaw dropping 31 lengths, his overall finishing time in 1973 remains a record.
More recent famous horses to have won the Belmont Stakes include American Pharoah and Justify. American Pharoah won the Belmont Stakes in 2015 becoming the twelfth horse to win the Triple Crown. Justify repeated this achievement in 2018 becoming the only horse to do so remaining undefeated.
Famous Belmont Stakes Jockeys
While coming from the Dwyer Stable that was a great source of high-quality thoroughbreds, McLaughlin is joint top jockey in terms of being a six-time winner in the Belmont Stakes between 1882 to 1888. Sadly, for him, leaving the Dwyer Stable and personal issues potentially stopped him from having the all-time highest number of wins.
Like McLaughlin, Arcaro is a six-time winner during the period of 1941 to 1955. Nicknamed ‘The Master’ he is the only jockey to win the Triple Crown twice on Whirlaway and Citation.
Riding a career of 3,704 winners she won the Belmont Stakes on Ecstatic Ride in 1992 and the following year on Colonial Affair this time winning the Triple Crown and becoming the first female jockey to do so.
Riding American Pharoah, he became the oldest jockey and first Latino to win the Triple Crown in 2015 in what was the first time the Triple Crown had been achieved in 37 years.
Famous Belmont Stakes Trainers
James Gordon Rowe Sr was an eight-time champion trainer at the Belmont Stakes between the period of 1883 to 1913. Placed in the Hall of Fame having trained 34 champion horses he also won the Belmont Stakes twice as a jockey.
James ‘Sunny Jim’ Fitzsimmons dominated the 1930s at the Belmont Stakes by training five winners. Some of those champions include the famous Seabiscuit and Nashua. Starting from the lowest and dirtiest jobs like cleaning stables, his love for horses and racing saw him grow his hard work into a thriving career as a trainer winning the Belmont Stakes six times.
Woody Stephens dominated the Belmont Stakes during the 1980s and won an overall eight Triple Crown races. For five years in a row, he trained horses that won the Belmont Stakes between 1982 and 1986.
Belmont Park and the Belmont Stakes
Situated in the North East of the United States of America, Belmont Park is located in Elmont just to the East of New York’s City limits.
The racecourse provides a 1,5-mile track (2.4km) and the Belmont Stakes is the longest of the Triple Crown races, also known as ‘the Test of the Champion’. The track is a dirt and known as the ‘Big Sandy’ with a deep and unforgiving surface. With long straights and wide sweeping turns the racetrack is considered fair. Belmont Park has seen crowds of up to 120,000 people providing for a great atmosphere.
The racecourse offers a wide array of food and beverage options to cater for all areas of the track. Private hire is also available for dining or boxes located in elevated positions that provide a great view of the racing.
Ticket prices depend on the package you are seeking for a day out at Belmont Festival. If you are looking for an affordable entry price then you can find standard admission from $5 per person per day. These enclosures will give great views of the run in, finishing line and there are loads of bars and food outlets to satisfy any needs. Naturally, private hire areas, grandstand seating, dining packages or private boxes will significantly increase prices.
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