In terms of North American horse racing, there aren’t too many races bigger than the Belmont Stakes. The Triple Crown event has long been one of the best attended spectacles of the season, previously bringing in over 100,000 people to Belmont Park in New York. Since 2015, the capacity at the course has been capped at 90,000 due to overcrowding concerns but this is more than enough to create a rapturous atmosphere.
Nicknamed the Test of the Champion, this one and a half mile battle stands as the oldest and final leg in the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing. It is run at Belmont Park, a course known for being one of the fairest around thanks to its wide turns and long homestretch. Recently published data also shows that it’s one of the safest American courses too due to the meticulous way the surface is maintained.
Belmont Stakes Course Map (Dirt Course)
Belmont Stakes Past Winners
|2021||Essential Quality||13/10||Brad H. Cox||Luis Saez|
|2020||Tiz The Law||4/5||Barclay Tagg||Manuel Franco|
|2019||Sir Winston||102/10||Mark Casse||Joel Rosario|
|2018||Justify||4/5||Bob Baffert||Mike Smith|
|2017||Tapwrit||5/1||Todd Pletcher||Jose Ortiz|
|2016||Creator||16/1||Steve Asmussen||Irad Ortiz Jr.|
|2015||American Pharaoh||3/4||Bob Baffert||Victor Espinoza|
|2014||Tonalist||9/1||Christophe Clement||Joel Roasrio|
|2013||Palace Malice||138/10||Todd Pletcher||Mike Smith|
|2012||Union Rags||11/4||Michael Matz||John Velazquez|
|2011||Ruler On Ice||248/10||Kelly Breen||Jose Valdivia Jr.|
|2010||Drosselmeyer||12/1||William Mott||Mike Smith|
|2009||Summer Bird||11/1||Tim Ice||Kent Desormeaux|
|2008||Da'Tara||38/1||Nick Zito||Alan Garcia|
|2007||Rags to Riches||4/1||Todd Pletcher||John Velazquez|
|2006||Jazil||6/1||Kieran McLaughlin||Fernando Jara|
|2005||Afleet Alex||6/5||Timothy Ritchey||Jeremy Rose|
|2004||Birdstone||36/1||Nick Zito||Edgar Prado|
|2003||Empire Maker||2/1||Robert Frankel||Jerry Bailey|
|2002||Sarava||70/1||Kenneth McPeek||Edgar Prado|
About the Belmont Stakes: Tasty Racing in the Big Apple
Belmont Park is one of the most important sites in American horse racing. Known as ‘The Championship Track’ the New York State racecourse has played host to virtually every major horse in American racing history.
Of all the races to take place annually at Belmont Park, the Belmont Stakes is the most important. The 12 furlong, Grade 1 race is the final leg of the American Triple Crown and, as of 2020, features a prize fund of a rather healthy $1 million.
A Rich History
The Belmont Stakes is a truly historic race. First run just three years after the oldest horse race in America, the Travers Stakes, the Belmont Stakes has been held in New York since 1867. The Belmont Stakes was initially held at Jerome Park Racetrack in the Bronx (which was financed by August Belmont Sr., after whom the race is named) before moving to Morris Park Racecourse and then Belmont Park in 1905.
The race was just growing in stature following the move to Belmont Park but had to be cancelled in 1911 and 1912 due to the Hart-Agnew Law which banned gambling in New York. Thankfully for racing fans, it returned to in 1913 and as of 1926 the winner was presented with the August Belmont Trophy.
The Test of the Champion
The American Triple Crown was rarely referred to before Omaha completed a hat-trick of wins in the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes in 1935. His sire, Gallant Fox, had done the treble five years previously and was subsequently honoured for the feat, as was Sir Barton who won all three races back in 1919.
The Triple Crown is now so important in American racing that it sets the date of the Belmont Stakes. The final leg of the Triple Crown now always takes place three weeks after the Preakness Stakes which is itself held two weeks after the Kentucky Derby, which takes place on the first Saturday in May.
Just as with the final leg of the British Triple Crown, the St Leger, the Belmont Stakes is the longest of the three races. At one mile and four furlongs, the trip is shorter than the St Leger (one mile and six furlongs) and isn’t too much longer than the Kentucky Derby (one mile and two furlongs) or the Preakness Stakes (one mile and one and a half furlongs). Still, the Belmont Stakes is known as ‘The Test of the Champion’ due to its longer trip, which has caught out many horses attempting the Triple Crown over the years.
Trends to Keep In Mind
The Belmont Stakes is an important race far beyond New York. Punters from around the world follow the race and there are plenty of useful trends to help them come up with a winner. The first thing to note is just how tough it is to win the Triple Crown. Horses who come into the race on the back of a run in the Preakness Stakes have a poor record in the Belmont Stakes with those who arrive fresh generally preferred. It really does take a special horse to win all three of course.
Belmont Park is widely regarded as one of the fairest tracks around but it still trips some horses up so previous experience of ‘Big Sandy’ is a help even if the importance of Belmont experience has diminished in recent years. Winning the Belmont requires a certain amount of stamina with those who can hit the front fairly early before holding on preferred over horses who tend to kick strongly for home later on in races.