The Belmont Stakes is famous for being the final leg of the Triple Crown.
And although there is no chance of a Triple Crown this year, the Belmont is still a very prestigious race with a wonderful history.
For the uninitiated here are the basics, as we head toward that big day of racing on June 11th:
WHO: ELITE 3-YEAR-OLDS. Winning the Belmont Stakes is literally a once-in-a-lifetime chance for horses since the race is only open to 3-year-old Thoroughbreds. Look at it this way: 20,433 Thoroughbreds were born in 2019, and of those, only one can be the Belmont Stakes Winner. (Unless there’s a dead heat, but you get the idea.) While the Belmont Stakes is open to both male and female horses, only three fillies have ever captured the race, the most recent being RAGS TO RICHES in 2007.
WHAT: THE TEST OF THE CHAMPION. The Belmont Stakes earned the moniker; the Test of the Champion honestly – at a mile and a half, it’s the longest of the Triple Crown races and the reason only 13 horses have Won the Triple Crown out of 35 Thoroughbreds who have come into the Belmont having Won both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. Belmont’s main track is nicknamed Big Sandy because it’s an unusually large track and it contains more sand than other tracks in America.
WHERE: NEW YORK, NY. Long Island, actually. Belmont Park is located at the corner of Queens and Nassau counties, and it’s an incredibly easy place to attend. Not only does Belmont offer bountiful parking, but you can reach the track by subway or the Long Island Railroad if driving is not an option. The Belmont Park Grandstand at 1,266 feet, is longer than the Empire State Building (1,250 feet) is tall
WHEN: SATURDAY, JUNE 11TH. Traditionally, the Belmont Stakes is run as the third leg of the Triple Crown, three weeks after the Preakness Stakes. That’s not always the case, though: because 2020 was just weird in general, the Belmont was the first leg of the series that year in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic for the first time in its long history. The very first running of the Belmont Stakes in 1867 took place on a Thursday.
WHY: NEW YORK HISTORY. The very first edition of the Belmont Stakes was run at Jerome Park in the Bronx in 1867, but the race has been moved several times around New York City and its suburbs since its inception. It was held at the now-defunct Morris Park until 1905, when the race moved to the newly-constructed Belmont Park in Elmont. The largest Belmont Stakes attendance was in 2004 when over 120,000 fans hoped to see SMARTY JONES take home the Triple Crown– only to lose in an upset to BIRDSTONE.