You probably know that the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park in New York is the final leg of the American Triple Crown, but did you know that it’s also the oldest of the three? The first Belmont Stakes was run back in 1866 at Jerome Park Racetrack, which was located in The Bronx. In the early days it was also run at another track called Morris Park Racecourse before finally ending up at Belmont Park in 1905. The race was also not run a few times in its history, including 1911 and 1912 because gambling was outlawed. Thankfully, wagering on racing is now legal just about everywhere, so click here to read about DE horse betting operators and find out about making money betting on the ponies.
Also in the early days of the race, the concept of the Triple Crown had not yet been recognized, even though we now recognize Sir Barton as the first Triple Crown winner back in 1919. The following year gave up one of the most impressive Belmont Stakes performances in history as the great Man o’ War won by a dominating 20 lengths. There is no doubt Man ‘o War ranks among the fastest horses in the history of racing, along with other greats like Secretariat and Seattle Slew.
The distance of the race has also changed several times over the years, but now it’s run at 1 ½ miles, making it the longest of the Triple Crown races and also the most challenging, especially for 3-year-olds who ran in both the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, and the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland. And while the first edition had a purse of just $1,500, the race now offers a pot of $1.5 million and regularly attracts huge crowds.
Of course the most famous renewal of the Belmont Stakes was the 1973 edition won by Secretariat. Now only did “Big Red” break a 25-year Triple Crown drought going back to Citation in 1948, but he captured the attention of the world with his 31-length romp under Ron Turcotte with a record time of 2:24. Even nearly 50 years after that race, it remains one of the most, if not the most, impressive performance in the history of horse racing.
The last few years have seen two Triple Crown winners with American Pharoah and Justify and the race is still as popular as ever. It’s too early to say who might win the big race in 2020, but it’s a safe bet to say it will be another great renewal of one of America’s most iconic races.