What Is The Belmont Stakes?

The Belmont Stakes is an American Grade I stakes race for three-year-old Thoroughbreds run at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York. It is the oldest and longest of the three races that make up the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing, which also includes the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes. The Belmont Stakes is often referred to as the “Test of the Champion” due to its grueling 1.5-mile distance.

The Belmont Stakes has a storied history dating back to its inaugural running in 1867. Over the years, it has produced some of the most memorable moments in horse racing history, including Secretariat’s record-breaking performance in 1973, where he won by an incredible 31 lengths. The race has also been the site of heartbreak, such as in 2008 when Big Brown failed to win the Triple Crown after finishing last in the Belmont Stakes.

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History of the Belmont Stakes

The Belmont Stakes is one of the most prestigious horse races in the world, and it has a rich history that dates back to the 19th century. In this section, we will take a closer look at the early years of the Belmont Stakes and some of the significant moments in its history.

Early Years

The Belmont Stakes was first run in 1867 at Jerome Park Racetrack in The Bronx. It was named after August Belmont, a financier, diplomat, and sportsman who was instrumental in the creation of the race. The inaugural race was won by a filly named Ruthless, and the following year saw General Duke take the victory.

Over the years, the Belmont Stakes has been run at various distances and tracks. In 1905, it found its permanent home at Belmont Park, which was built by August Belmont Jr. and William C. Whitney. The track was modeled after the great race courses of Europe and quickly became known as one of the most beautiful and well-regarded tracks in the world.

Significant Moments in Belmont Stakes History

One of the most significant moments in Belmont Stakes history came in 1919, when Sir Barton became the first horse to win the Triple Crown. The Triple Crown consists of three races: the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes. Sir Barton’s victory in the Belmont Stakes cemented his place in history as one of the greatest racehorses of all time.

In 1973, Secretariat won the Belmont Stakes by an incredible 31 lengths, setting a new world record for the 1 1/2 mile distance. His performance is widely regarded as one of the greatest moments in horse racing history, and he remains one of the most beloved and celebrated horses of all time.

In 2015, American Pharoah became the first horse in 37 years to win the Triple Crown. His victory in the Belmont Stakes was a thrilling and emotional moment for horse racing fans around the world, and it cemented his place in history as one of the greatest racehorses of all time.

The Belmont Stakes has a long and storied history, and it continues to be one of the most prestigious and exciting horse races in the world.

The Race Itself

Distance and Track

The Belmont Stakes is a Grade 1 stakes race for three-year-old Thoroughbred horses. It is the oldest and longest race of the three races that make up the Triple Crown, with a distance of 1 1/2 miles or 12 furlongs. The race is held annually at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York, and is run on a dirt track.

Triple Crown

The Belmont Stakes is the third and final leg of the Triple Crown, following the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes. The Triple Crown is considered the most prestigious accomplishment in American horse racing, and winning all three races is a rare feat. Only 13 horses have won the Triple Crown, with the most recent being Justify in 2018.

Purse and Trophy

The purse for the Belmont Stakes is currently $1.5 million, with the winner receiving $800,000. In addition to the prize money, the winner is also awarded the August Belmont Trophy, which is a silver bowl that has been presented to the winner since the inaugural running of the race in 1867. The trophy is named after August Belmont, who was a prominent racehorse owner and breeder in the late 19th century.

The Belmont Stakes is known for its rich history and tradition, and it is considered one of the most important races in American horse racing. The race attracts top horses, trainers, and jockeys from around the world, and it is watched by millions of fans both at the track and on television.

Famous Belmont Stakes Winners

Secretariat

Secretariat is widely considered one of the greatest racehorses of all time, and his performance in the 1973 Belmont Stakes is legendary. He won the race by an astonishing 31 lengths, setting a world record for a mile and a half on dirt at 2:24 that still stands today. Secretariat’s dominance in the Belmont Stakes cemented his place in horse racing history and earned him the Triple Crown, which he won by also triumphing in the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes that year.

American Pharoah

American Pharoah ended a 37-year Triple Crown drought when he won the Belmont Stakes in 2015. He had previously won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, and his victory in the Belmont Stakes made him the first horse since Affirmed in 1978 to win all three races. American Pharoah’s performance in the Belmont Stakes was particularly impressive because he led wire-to-wire, meaning he was in first place for the entire race.

Justify

Justify followed in American Pharoah’s footsteps by winning the Triple Crown in 2018, with his Belmont Stakes victory sealing the deal. He had also won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes earlier that year. Justify’s win in the Belmont Stakes was notable for its wire-to-wire dominance, with the horse leading from start to finish. He became just the 13th horse in history to win the Triple Crown, cementing his place in racing history.

These three horses are just a few of the many famous Belmont Stakes winners. The race has a long and storied history, and each year, new champions emerge to add to its legacy.

The Belmont Stakes Today

Attendance and Viewership

The Belmont Stakes is one of the most popular horse racing events in the world, attracting thousands of spectators each year. In 2022, the event drew a crowd of over 50,000 people, with millions more tuning in to watch the race on television. The Belmont Stakes has consistently been one of the highest-rated television events in the United States, with viewership numbers rivaling those of the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes.

Betting and Wagering

The Belmont Stakes is also a major event in the world of sports betting, with millions of dollars wagered on the race each year. In 2022, the total amount wagered on the Belmont Stakes exceeded $150 million, with over $100 million of that coming from off-track betting locations. The race is known for producing some of the biggest upsets in horse racing history, making it a popular target for bettors looking to hit it big.

Controversies and Issues

Over the years, the Belmont Stakes has been the subject of several controversies and issues. One of the most notable controversies occurred in 2014, when California Chrome’s owner accused the New York Racing Association of rigging the race against his horse. The NYRA denied the allegations, but the incident sparked a debate about the fairness of the race and the role of the NYRA in regulating horse racing.

Another issue that has plagued the Belmont Stakes in recent years is the use of performance-enhancing drugs by horses. In 2021, the winner of the Belmont Stakes, Rombauer, was found to have been given a banned substance prior to the race. The incident sparked outrage among fans and led to calls for stricter drug testing and regulation in horse racing.

Despite these controversies and issues, the Belmont Stakes remains one of the most exciting and prestigious events in the world of horse racing. With a rich history and a tradition of producing some of the sport’s most memorable moments, the Belmont Stakes is a must-see event for any fan of horse racing.

Conclusion

Overall, the Belmont Stakes is an exciting and historic horse racing event that takes place annually at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York. It is the longest of the three Triple Crown races, and only a select few horses have been able to win all three races in the same year.

While the race is certainly a spectacle, it is also an important event for the horse racing industry. The Belmont Stakes draws in a large crowd of spectators and generates significant revenue for the surrounding area. It is a chance for fans to witness some of the best horses and jockeys in the world compete on a grand stage.

For those who are new to horse racing, the Belmont Stakes can be a great opportunity to learn more about the sport and its history. Whether you are a seasoned fan or a curious newcomer, the Belmont Stakes is an event that should not be missed.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the distance of the Belmont Stakes?

Traditionally, the Belmont Stakes is run over a distance of 1 1/2 miles (12 furlongs; 2,414 metres), making it the longest of the three Triple Crown races. However, the distance has varied at times, and in 2024 when the race moves to Saratoga, it will be run at 1 1/4 miles pending approval.

What race is the Belmont Stakes in the Triple Crown series?

The Belmont Stakes is the third and final leg of the American Triple Crown, following the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes. It is often referred to as the “Test of the Champion” due to its lengthy distance and its position at the end of the Triple Crown series.

Where is the Belmont Stakes usually held?

The Belmont Stakes is typically held at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York, just outside of New York City. However, in 2024, the race will be temporarily relocated to Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York, due to renovations at Belmont Park.

What are some of the notable traditions associated with the Belmont Stakes?

One of the most famous Belmont Stakes traditions is the winner’s blanket, which is made of white carnations. The winning horse is draped with this blanket after the race. Another tradition is the playing of “New York, New York” by Frank Sinatra as the horses enter the track before the race.


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