The Grade 1 Belmont Stakes is one of the richest races on the American racing schedule, but it serves an even more important role as the third and final leg of the prestigious Triple Crown. The Belmont Stakes is where racing history is made. Nicknamed the “Test of the Champion”, the grueling 1 ½ mile race features horses that competed in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness as well as other stakes races. It is an exciting year in horseracing when a horse arrives at the Belmont having won the first two legs of the Triple Crown. California Chrome did just that in 2014 but was denied in his bid for history by Tonalist.
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The history of the Belmont Stakes
The Belmont Stakes is actually the oldest of the three races in the Triple Crown series. It had its inaugural running in 1868 at Jerome Park Racetrack in the Bronx, NY. In 1890 the race was moved to the nearby Morris Park Racecourse and remained there until the legendary Belmont Park opened its doors in 1905. In the years 1911 and 1912 the track was closed and the race cancelled due to a ban on gambling by New York State.
It wasn’t until the 1930’s that the Triple Crown series truly began to take shape. Prior to that time the three races were often ran in no particular order. Today, the Belmont is always held on the first Saturday on or after June 5.
The winner of the Belmont Stakes is awarded the August Belmont Trophy which honors the man the race is named after. This trophy is typically presented after the race by the current Governor of New York or one of the administration’s representatives.
The Test of the Champion
The Belmont Stakes is quite a spectacle and quite often draws crowds in excess of 100,000 horse racing fans. When Smarty Jones vied for the Triple Crown in 2004 after winning the first two legs, a record crowd of 120,139 watched Smarty Jones fall to Birdstone in his quest to complete the Crown. The last Triple Crown winner in American horseracing was Affirmed in 1978, and only a few horses have been in the position to win it since. Whenever a horse has the chance the interest in the Belmont Stakes always goes up.
There are a few reasons why the Belmont Stakes is so hard to win. First, it is the final race in a very tiring campaign for three year old horses. Many of them are running their third race in a span of five weeks. This is very uncommon for quality thoroughbreds. Second, the Belmont Stakes often feature so-called “New Shooters.” These are horses that skip the first two legs of the Triple Crown and train specifically for the Belmont. They arrive on race day rested and ready to compete. Finally, the race is a test of endurance. It is the first time that any of the horses in the field will have ever attempted to race at the distance of 1 ½ miles.
EZ Horse Betting Fun Fact
When Birdstone defeated Smarty Jones in 2004 to end his bid for the Triple Crown, angry racing fans pelted Birdstone’s owner Marylou Whitney with a variety of things such as soda cups and racing programs while she made her way to the Winner’s Circle. Smarty Jones was a very popular horse and the crowd expected him to win.
Bet the Belmont at Twin Spires!
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Belmont Stakes Winners Since 2000 with $2 payoffs:
- 2012: Union Rags $7.50
- 2011: Ruler On Ice $51.50
- 2010: Drosselmeyer $28.00
- 2009: Summer Bird $25.80
- 2008: Da’ Tara $79.00
- 2007: Rags to Riches $10.60
- 2006: Jazil $14.40
- 2005: Afleet Alex $4.30
- 2004: Birdstone $74.00
- 2003: Empire Maker $6.00
- 2002: Sarava $142.50
- 2001: Point Given $4.70
- 2000: Commendable $39.60