The Belmont Stakes

History of The Belmont Stakes

Belmont Stakes BettingThe Belmont Stakes is an American Grade I horse race held every June at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York. It is the third and final leg of the American Triple Crown following the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes. It is timed to fit into the training schedule for the best three-year-olds competing in the earlier races in the hope of attracting a Triple Crown hero. It is mile and a half race and is one of the highlights of the American racing season. Only the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and the Kentucky Oaks attract a larger audience.

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The first Belmont Stakes was run at Jerome Park Racetrack in The Bronx in 1867 and remained there until 1890 when it moved to the nearby Morris Park Racecourse. In May 1905, the new Belmont Park racetrack was opened in Elmont, New York. Although many winners of the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness have started hot favourite for the Belmont, they have struggled over this gruelling mile and a half circuit. For that reason, it is regarded as the “Test of the Champion”. The step up in distance can often find them out, with the jockeys positioning through the race vital when it comes to the finishing stretch.

In 1993, racing’s all-time leading female rider, Julie Krone, became the first woman to win a Triple Crown race when she rode Colonial Affair to victory in the Belmont Stakes. Only three fillies have won the Belmont in the history of the race; Ruthless (1867), Tanya (1905) and Rags to Riches (2007).

Triple Crown Winners

There is nothing that sets up the excitement more for the Belmont Stakes than having a horse attempting the Triple Crown. There have been eleven Triple Crown winners, the most recent being Affirmed in 1978.

Sir Barton 1919

Sir Barton was a maiden when he contested the Kentucky Derby, supposedly as a pacemaker for stable companion Billy Kelly. He led from start to finish, crossing the line five lengths clear. He repeated the performance in the Preakness and completed the Triple Crown with an easy victory in the Belmont.

Gallant Fox 1930

Gallant Fox won the Preakness Stakes, then the first of the “Triple Crown” races, by three-quarters of a length under jockey Earl Sande. Two weeks later he ran out a two-length winner of The Kentucky Derby before completing the Triple Crown at Belmont Park comfortably.

Omaha 1935

Omaha won the Kentucky Derby by a length and a half without his rider having to resort to the whip and was made odds-on favourite for the Preakness. He took up the running on the home turn to win by six lengths and defied treacherous conditions to slog his way to victory in the Belmont.

War Admiral 1937

Although a Triple Crown winner, War Admiral is possibly best remembered for his match race with Seabiscuit in 1938. He was beaten four lengths at Pimlico with Seabiscuit breaking the track record.

Whirlaway 1941

Whirlaway was ridden by Eddie Arcaro to all of his Triple Crown victories but the jockey was stood down for the following season due to racing infractions.

Count Fleet 1943

Count Fleet won the Kentucky Derby by three lengths before going on to Baltimore to win the Preakness Stakes by eight lengths. He completed the Triple Crown by winning the Belmont Stakes by a staggering 25-lengths.

Assault 1946

After a poor run in the Derby trial, Assault was considered a big outsider in the Kentucky Derby. However, he recorded an emphatic eight-length victory. Hot favourite for the Preakness, he was sent for home early and was almost caught, holding on by just a neck from Lord Boswell. Punters felt that lack of stamina would catch him out in the Belmont but he was held up at the rear before sprinting past the leaders for a 3-length victory.

Citation 1948

Citation won the Kentucky Derby by 3½ lengths over his stablemate, Coaltown and followed up in the Preakness Stakes by 5½ lengths. He became the 8th Triple Crown winner when he equalled the race record of 2:28 set by Count Fleet.

Secretariat 1973

Secretariat broke last in the Kentucky Derby but moved through the field to win by two-and-a-half lengths. In the Preakness Stakes, Secretariat was again last to break but produced a massive move on the first turn to take up the running, leading nearly six furlongs out and winning by the same distance as in Kentucky. Secretariat completed the Triple Crown by winning the Belmont Stakes by an astonishing thirty-one lengths in a record time of 2:24. That record still stands as the fastest speed for the Belmont Stakes.

Seattle Slew 1977

Seattle Slew was 1-2 favourite for the Kentucky Derby and recovered from an early swerve to defeat Run Dusty Run by 1¾ lengths. In the Preakness Stakes, Seattle Slew fought on bravely to hold off Iron Constitution by 1 1⁄2 lengths. He completed the Triple Crown in The Belmont Stakes by four lengths and became the first Triple Crown winner to finish the series undefeated (nine wins from nine starts).

Affirmed 1978

Affirmed remains the last horse to have completed the American Triple Crown and is best remembered for his famous battles with the brave Alydar. He was second choice with the punters for the Kentucky Derby and held off Alydar’s late charge to win by 1½ lengths. In the Preakness Stakes, Affirmed made the running under jockey Steve Cauthen whilst Alydar made his big move on the far turn. Affirmed held a short lead entering the stretch and frustrated Alydar to repel him by a neck. The scene was set for another clash between the pair in the Belmont and they did not disappoint. Cauthen set a very slow pace with Alydar’s jockey, Jorge Velasquez, keeping Alydar in close attendance. He disputed the lead almost a mile from home and the two colts raced neck and neck all the way home. Alydar got his nose in front half-way up the stretch but Cauthen galvanised Affirmed for one final effort and fought back to win by a nose.

Betting on the The Belmont

There is a strong futures betting market on The Belmont Stakes but it really catches the public’s interest after the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes. The three races are very difficult to separate and it is vital to keep right up-to-date with the relevant trial races. It is well worth taking the time to analyse the pedigree of the leading contenders as The Belmont puts the emphasis firmly on stamina. As one of the biggest horse races in America, the race attracts global interest and most sports books will offer prices in the build up to the race.

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