This year’s Belmont Stakes will be held June 5th at Belmont Park.
While there is no Triple Crown on the line, the race is shaping up to be one of the deepest and most competitive editions in recent memory.
The COVID-19 pandemic turned the 2020 Triple Crown calendar up-side-down, as the Kentucky Derby was postponed to the first Saturday in September, and the Preakness Stakes moved to the first weekend in October.
The Belmont Stakes, however, was only pushed back a couple of weeks from June 6th to June 20th and was held as the first jewel of the 2020 Triple Crown.
Here are a few more interesting and historical tidbits regarding the Belmont Stakes.
1. The Belmont Stakes is the longest of the three Triple Crown races as well as the oldest. It’s contested at 1 ½ miles and was first held in 1867.
This year is the 153rd running, compared with the 147th Derby and 146th Preakness.
2. The 2020 Belmont Stakes marked the first time since 1926 that the race was not contested at its famed 1 ½-mile distance. The COVID-19 pandemic led to many racetracks being temporarily shut down, the postponement or cancellation of key races on the Triple Crown Trail, and the interruption of training schedules for trainers and their racehorses.
That prompted the Belmont Stakes to be held at 1 1/8 miles around one turn and scheduled as the first leg of the Triple Crown instead of the last one, for the first time in the race’s history. The race returns to its normal distance and placement as the final leg of the Triple Crown for 2021.
3. A record crowd of 120,139 turned out to watch SMARTY JONES go for the Triple Crown in 2004. The fan favorite was beaten by 36-1 longshot BIRDSTONE.
Conversely, the 2020 Belmont Stakes was held without spectators due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year Belmont Park will operate at a reduced capacity based on current New York State guidelines, and will offer fully vaccinated sections within the facility.
4. Historically, the betting favorite has Won the Belmont Stakes 42% of the time (64 of 152 contests). But just four of the last 16 editions featured Winning favorites: TIZ THE LAW (2020), JUSTIFY (2018), AMERICAN PHAROAH (2015) and AFLEET ALEX (2005).
5. A pair of Triple Crown Winners have the two largest Winning margins in the Belmont. SECRETARIAT Won by 31 lengths in 1973 and COUNT FLEET Won by 25 lengths 30 years earlier.
6. SECRETARIAT set a world record for 1.5 miles on dirt when he Won the 1973 Belmont in 2:24. So fast that he also holds the record for the fastest half-mile, three-quarters of a mile, one-mile, and 1 1/4-mile fractions in Belmont Stakes history.
7. The first Belmont Stakes featured a total purse of $2,500, with the filly RUTHLESS taking home the $1,850 Winner’s share. This year’s race is worth $1.5 million including $800,000 for the Winner.
8. In the 1993 Belmont Julie Krone became the first woman to ride a Winner in an American Triple Crown race. She guided longshot COLONIAL AFFAIR from off the pace to win by 2 ¼ lengths.
9. TIZ THE LAW in 2020 became the first New York-bred Winner of the Belmont Stakes in a remarkable 138 years. He joined RUTHLESS (1867), FENIAN (1869), and FORESTER (1882) in the history books as the only New York-bred Winners of the race.
10. In 2002 at odds of 70-1, SARAVA was the biggest longshot Winner in the history of the Belmont. For a $2 Win wager his Victory earned bettors $142.50 !