Nine Try To Deny Justify A Triple Crown In Belmont Stakes
Dual Classic Winner Looks To Become 13th Triple Crown Winner
By Margaret Ransom
It hardly seems like three years since the world witnessed American Pharoah capture the first Triple Crown in 37 years, but here we are again with Justify, as he attempts to become the 13th horse in history to win all three jewels — the Kentucky Derby (GI), Preakness Stakes (GI) and, now, the Belmont Stakes (GI).
This year marks the 150th running of the Belmont Stakes, the oldest of the three races and the longest at its 12-furlong distance.
The Belmont Stakes is known for a lot of things, from being the crowning glory of a grueling five-week race series to a crushing spoiler for runners and their connections attempting to earn racing immortality with a Triple Crown. But of all the things the Belmont Stakes is known for it’s probably the sheer amount of amazing horses who’ve won the 1 ½-mile race since it was first contested in 1867.
In addition to the 12 Triple Crown winners, a host of historic names have graced the Belmont Stakes winner’s circle draped in the blanket of carnations. Sometimes the term “legends of the turf” is used too loosely, but it seems almost an understatement when it comes to the Belmont Stakes. It has been the stop for all of the great racing legends, from Belair Stud, Sam Riddle and Greentree Stable to the greats, “Sunny” Jim Fitzsimmons and Woody Stephens. Back in the day winning the Belmont was as important – if not more so – than any other race.
Some names even the casual racing fan will recognize as third-jewel winners, in addition to the 12 Triple Crown winners, include Spendthrift, Peter Pan, Colin, Native Dancer, Nashua, Needles, Gallant Man, Sword Dancer, Riva Ridge, Conquistador Cielo, Swale, Bet Twice, Risen Star, Easy Goer, A.P. Indy, Colonial Affair, Point Given and Empire Maker. Fillies have won three times with Rags to Riches being the last in 2007, and nine foreign-bred horses have taken to the track known as “Big Sandy” on the Saturday three weeks after the Preakness Stakes to win the big race.
This year a field of 10 will race the entire circumference of Belmont with their hopeful connections looking to add their names to the annals of history, one very special one in pursuit of the most distinguished honor in American racing.
The weather in the New York area on Saturday is expected to be on the warmer side, with highs in the upper 70s. There isn’t expected to be a rain cloud in sight, though skies may be partly cloud, so a fast track and firm turf is on tap for the 13-race card. The Belmont Stakes has been carded as the 11th on the day with a post time of 6:46 p.m. ET. Network coverage on NBC Sports begins at 4:00 p.m. ET with undercard races and commentary on NBC Sports Network starting at 2:00 p.m. ET.