The Belmont Stakes is the Oldest of the Triple Crown
Being the third race of the Triple Crown series each calendar year (unless we are unfortunate to have a Covid pandemic) people may assume it is the youngest of the three races. The Belmont Stakes happens to be the fourth oldest race in North America and the third oldest in the United States, and yes, the Kentucky Derby is eight years its junior while the Preakness Stakes is six years younger. In the United States the Phoenix Stakes, now known as the Phoenix Breeders Cup was first introduced in 1831. In 1864 the Travers ran its first race in Saratoga just pipping the first Belmont Stakes being run in 1867. Also, in the 1860s before the first Belmont Stakes the Queen’s Plate was run in Canada. Taking into account disruptions to events taking place the Belmont Stakes is the third most run.
Distant Memories of the Belmont Stakes
Eventually the Belmont was becoming worthy of its own venue and the Belmont Park race track was opened in 1905. It was not a direct move but was a process that commenced after the passing of August Belmont and his associate Leonard Jerome who had also financed Jerome Park. As a result, an interim venue called Morris Park was used to host the race from 1891 until Belmont Park was ready.
Since 1925, the Belmont Stakes has been run at 1.5 miles, however, since the first race held in Jerome Park, the length of the race has changed from time to time from a minimum of one and a quarter of a mile to one and five eights of a mile.
During the first 14 years of the event running from 1867, the horses went directly from paddock to post. In 1880, the first post parade of the Belmont Stakes occurred.
It has been a general rule, or at least widely accepted in recent times, that all of the Triple Crown races are run anti-clockwise in what seems to be an American tradition. Not at the Belmont! Up until 1920 the Belmont Stakes was run clockwise around the Belmont Park track. However, to conform with the Derby and the Preakness, the Belmont Stakes finally fell into line and Grey Leg, who raced one mile and three eights in an anti-clockwise direction, won the 53rd meeting.
Who’s the Belmont Stakes Daddy?
To be a runner in the Belmont Stakes not only does the horse have to be trained and perform at a very high standard, it has to be a three-year-old thoroughbred colt or filly. The horses have to be bred from a certain bloodline and within the racing world champion horses can breed champion horses. As a result, the Belmont Stakes has no fewer than eleven winners being sired by a previous winner. Let’s take a look at some of those proud parents that has provided such great memories.
Duke of Magenta
A winner of the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes in 1878 and one of the most successful US race horses in history sired Eric who won Belmont in 1889.
Spendthrift & Hastings
He was a winner of the Belmont Stakes, Jersey Stakes and Champion Stakes in 1879 and went on to sire Hastings, a winner of the Belmont in 1896. It certainly ran in the family as Hastings went on to sire Masterman the 1902 champion.
Winning the Belmont Stakes in 1901, Commando was placed in the United States Racing Hall of Fame and sired the 1907 and 1908 winners, Peter Pan and Colin.
Recognised as the American Champion three-year-old colt, the Finn won the Belmont stakes in 1915 and sired Zev, the winner in 1923.
This thoroughbred really did seem to have it in his name and has been regarded as an all time great winning the Preakness and Belmont in 1920. He sired three other Belmont winners including American Flag 1925, Crusader, 1926 and War Admiral 1937. War Admiral is also decorated with honours having claimed the Triple Crown when winning at Belmont.
Quite clearly a gallant effort from Gallant Fox who became only the second US Triple Crown champion in 1930, the American Champion three-year-old and took his place in the United States Racing Hall of Fame. He sired Belmont winners Ohama and Granville winners of the Belmont in 1935 and 1936 respectively.
Winning the Belmont Stakes by a then record twenty-five lengths in 1943 to take the Triple Crown, Count Fleet sired back-to-back winners Counterpoint and One Count who won at Belmont in 1951 and 1952 respectively.
An American Hall of Fame and Belmont winner in 1959, Sword Dancer sired 1967 winner Damascus
The ninth winner of the Triple Crown in 1973 and known as ‘Big Red’, Secretariat holds the world record time over one and a half miles over a dirt track. Secretariat sired Risen Star, a Belmont winner in 1988.
A Triple Crown winner and America Champion three-year-old champion of 1977 sired Swale who won the Kentucky Derby and Belmont in 1984. Seattle Slew also sired A.P. Indy a Triple Crown winner in 1992.
Belmont Trophy Cabinet
The winning owner of the Belmont Stakes can keep the trophy for one year until the next superstar three-year-old wins the title. It is a large silver trophy and stood atop is Fenian, the horse that won the Belmont Stakes in 1869 and was appropriately owned by none other than, August Belmont.
As the big race day approaches, details will begin to emerge about this year’s runners. Using some of the background information above together with our own research into the horses, hopefully you will be able to spot this year’s winner and place a number of successful bets.