The Belmont Stakes is a G1 stakes horse race held in the U.S.A. and is open to 3-year old thoroughbreds. It is the third, and chronologically oldest, leg of the triple- crown races, although there were some years in which it wasn’t run due to gambling restrictions in the state of New York. The purse for the Belmont is $1 million dollars, of which $600,000 goes to the winner of the race. The Belmont Stakes is held each year on the first Saturday falling on or after June 5. The 147th running of the Belmont Stakes will be held on Saturday, June 6, 2015. The Belmont Stakes has been a distance of 1 ½ miles since 1925, but before then the distance was frequently changed.
Throughout the years, the Belmont has had to struggle to retain its popularity in the shadow of the Preakness Stakes and the Kentucky Derby. This is due in large part to the fact that in most years there isn’t a contender for the triple-crown. On years when the same horse has won both the Derby and the Preakness however, the Belmont has often had more viewers than any of the other North American races.
The most recent example of this was in 2012 when I’ll Have Another won both the Derby and The Preakness Stakes. The Belmont Stakes looked like it might have its highest viewing in decades when the horse had to drop from the race due to an injury. When I’ll Have Another dropped out of the race, it ruined the anticipation of the race for many.
Race History and Facts
The first running of the Belmont Stakes took place at Jerome Park Racetrack in 1867. This racetrack is located in The Bronx and the race was held there until 1890, when it was moved to Morris Park Racecourse. In 1905 Belmont Park opened in Long Island and the race was relocated there, where it has remained to this day; over 100 years later.
Although chronologically older than the Kentucky Derby, the Belmont Stakes was cancelled in 1911 and 1912 because of New York’s anti-gambling legislation cannot claim the title of longest consecutively run race. Since 1931, the Triple Crown races have been run in a particular order, with the Kentucky Derby first, the Preakness Stakes second, and the Belmont Stakes third, but it wasn’t always that way. Before that time, the Preakness was run before the Derby on 11 separate occasions and twice they were run on the same day. There were also eleven occasions when the Belmont Stakes were run before the Preakness. Today, the Kentucky Derby is run on the first Saturday in May, the Preakness Stakes takes place two weeks later, and finally the Belmont Stakes are held around three weeks later. There are many interesting facts about the Belmont Stakes and while you may already know some of them, there are a few that my surprise you.
The race record is 2:24:00, set by Secretariat in 1973, the same year that he set the track record at the Kentucky Derby. Secretariat came in first by 31 lengths, another track record that still stands today.
Two jockeys are tied for most wins, with Eddie Arcaro and Jim McLaughlin having 6 each. The record for most successful trainer is held by James G Rowe Sr. as the trainer of 8 winners.
There have only been 3 fillies that have won the Belmont Stakes since its inauguration: Ruthless, in 1867, Tanya, in 1905, and Rags to Riches, in 2007.
While it seems that non-native horses seem to struggle with this track, nine foreign born horses have won the Belmont; six of the nine were from the U.K.
Betting Tips for the Belmont
As with the Kentucky Derby, betting on the underdog is usually the way to go in the Belmont Stakes. In the past few years some incredible longshots have paid off big at the Belmont Stakes and since 1990 only four of the favorite picks have gone on to win the race. The biggest underdog to ever win the Belmont was Sarava in 2002, at 70/1 odds. Some others include Ruler on Ice in 2011 at 24/1 odds, Da’ Tara in 2008 at 37/1 odds, and Bird Stone in 2004 at 35/1.
Don’t necessarily look for the horses that have run in both the Derby and the Preakness to be winners. In recent years many of the winners have run in only one or the other of these races and there have also been several Belmont winners with no Triple Crown experience at all.
Whether you’re a big bettor or just in it for the excitement of the race, the fact that the Belmont is the last leg of the Triple Crown doesn’t make it any less exciting when you win.