The Belmont Stakes is Rich in Racing History
The Belmont Stakes is Rich in Racing History: Two thirds of the Triple Crown is over, and the longest – and likely toughest – race any of these three-year-olds will ever run is upon them. The Belmont Stakes is called “The Test of the Champion,” one of the truest statements in horse racing. Only certain horses can win the Belmont Stakes. The 1½ mile race is run at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York, which is situated on Long Island.
The Belmont Stakes is the oldest of the three Triple Crown races. The first edition of the Belmont Stakes went off in 1867 at Jerome Park Racecourse in The Bronx. A filly named Ruthless won the inaugural event.
In 1890, the race was run at Morris Park Racecourse. However, the race remained there only until 1904 because in May of 1905, Belmont Park opened.
The Triple Crown has experienced several changes throughout its history. On eleven occasions, the Belmont was run before the Preakness Stakes. Also, on the same number of occasions, the Preakness was run before the Kentucky Derby. In 1917 and 1922, it would have been impossible for there to be a Triple Crown since the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby were run on the same day. It was not until 1931 that the current order of the Triple Crown was settled.
Belmont Park has experienced renovations, however. From 1963 to 1967, the Belmont Stakes was run at Aqueduct. The winners of these five editions of the Belmont Stakes were Chateaugay, Quadrangle, Hail to All, Amberoid, and Damascus. In 1968, the Belmont Stakes was back at Belmont Park for Stage Door Johnny to win the race for Greentree Stable.
The Belmont Stakes has seen plenty of history in its time. In 1973, those who were fortunate enough to witness the race saw Secretariat set a new speed record, as he had in his previous two races, and a record for greatest margin of victory. The son of Bold Ruler stopped the Belmont clock in 2:24 and was 31 lengths in front of the second-place finisher, Twice a Prince. Both of those records still stand today. The only horse to come close to Secretariat’s time was still two seconds slower; Easy Goer defeated Sunday Silence in the 1989 Belmont Stakes, stopping the clock in 2:26. The attendance record of the Belmont Stakes tops out at 120,139. That record crowd occurred in 2004 when Smarty Jones attempted to become the twelfth Triple Crown winner and to do so undefeated. However, he finished second to Birdstone.
The Belmont Stakes trophy is designed by Paulding Farnham for makers Tiffany and Co. The trophy is called the August Belmont Memorial Cup. There are four horses on the trophy. The horse atop the trophy is 1869 Belmont winner Fenian, and the three horses the cup sits on are figures of Herod, Eclipse, and Matchem. These three represent the grandsons of the three foundation sires, the Byerley Turk, Godolphin Bard, and Darley Arabian. The trophy is presented to the Belmont Stakes winner’s family who is allowed to keep the trophy until the next year’s champion is crowned. The owner, trainer, and jockey all receive silver miniatures of the statue.
Some interesting facts about the race include that Julie Krone became the first, and only, woman to win a Triple Crown race. She did so upon Colonial Affair in the 1993 Belmont Stakes.
Woody Stephens won five Belmont Stakes in his training career. All five of those wins came back-to-back. From 1982 to 1986, Woody Stephens sent out Conquistador Cielo, Caveat, Swale, Crème Fraiche, and Danzig Connection.
Belair Stud owns the most Belmont Stakes wins for an owner. They won six Belmont Stakes, two of which completed a Triple Crown (1930 and 1935).
The biggest upset in Belmont history came in 2002 when Sarava defeated War Emblem to play spoiler to his Triple Crown bid.
This year, the Belmont Stakes will not have a record crowd due to limited ticket sales on June 6, 2015. However, this year could be another chance to see who will shape up to be the best horses later in the year. Only time will tell, but at the end of the 1½ mile test, there will be a new classic champion in the horse racing world.