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Belmont Stakes Horse Racing

The Belmont Stakes is the third jewel of the Triple Crown. It is held five weeks after the Kentucky Derby at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York.

The Belmont Stakes, is named after August Belmont, a financier who made quite a name and fortune for himself in New York politics and society. Mr. Belmont was also quite involved in horse racing, and his imprint is even intertwined within the history of the Kentucky Derby.

The Belmont Stakes is the oldest of the three Triple Crown events. The Belmont predates the Preakness by six years and the Kentucky Derby by eight. The first running of the Belmont Stakes was in 1867 at Jerome Park, on, believe it or not, a Thursday. At a mile and five furlongs, the conditions included an entry fee of $200, half forfeit with $1,500 added.

Furthermore, not only is the Belmont the oldest Triple Crown race, but it is the fourth oldest race overall in North America. The Phoenix Stakes, now run in the fall at Keeneland as the Phoenix Breeders' Cup, was first run in 1831. The Queen's Plate in Canada made its debut in 1860, while the Travers in Saratoga opened in 1864. However, since there were gaps in sequence for the Travers, the Belmont is third only to the Phoenix and Queen's Plate in total runnings.


Some Key Belmont Moments

  • In 1890, the Belmont was moved from Jerome Park to Morris Park, a mile and three-eighths track located a few miles east of what is now Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. The Belmont was held at Morris Park until Belmont Park's opening in 1905.

  • When Grey Lag won the Belmont in 1921, it marked the first running of the Belmont Stakes in the counter-clockwise manner of American fashion. This 53rd running was a mile and three-eighths over the main course; previous editions at Belmont Park had been run clockwise, in accordance with English custom, over a fish-hook course which included part of the training track and the main dirt oval.

  • The first post parade in this country came in the 14th running of the Belmont in 1880. Until then the horses went directly from paddock to post.

  • The Belmont Stakes was run at Jerome Park from 1867 to 1889; at Morris Park from 1890 to 1904; at Aqueduct from 1963 to 1967. Not run in 1911 and 1912. Run at a mile and five furlongs from 1867 to 1873; a mile and a quarter in 1890, 1891, 1892, 1895, 1904 and 1905; a mile and a furlong in 1893 and 1894; a mile and three furlongs from 1896 to 1903 and from 1906 to 1925. No time taken in 1907 and 1908. Run as a Handicap Stakes in 1895 and in 1913. The value for the 1987, 1988, and 1992 winners includes the $1,000,000 Triple Crown point system bonus.


Champion Sires

As a horse racing saying goes - champion horses breed champions. This holds true in the Belmont Stakes. A total of eleven Belmont Stakes winners have sired at least one other Belmont winner.

  • Man o' War heads the list of Belmont champion sires. Not only did he win the race himself in 1920, but three of his subsequent sires won it as well: American Flag in 1925, Crusader in 1926 and War Admiral in 1937, who went on to win the Triple Crown.

  • Commando won the 1901 running, then sired Peter Pan, the 1907 champ and the Colin, the 1908 winner.

  • 1930 champion Gallant Fox sired both Omaha (1935) and Granville (1936).

  • Count Fleet won the 1943 edition, and then sired back-to-back Belmont winners with Counterpoint (1951) and One Count (1952).

  • 1977 Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew sired a Call To The Derby Post favorite in Swale, who won both the Derby and the Belmont in 1984, as well as A.P. Indy, who won the Belmont in 1992. 1999 Belmont winner Lemon Drop Kid is also a descendant of the Slew.

  • The following horses have sired one Belmont winner each: Duke of Magenta of 1878 sired Eric (1889); Spendthrift of 1879 sired Hastings (1896); Hastings then followed his again by siring Masterman, the 1902 winner. The Finn of 1915 sired Zev (1923); Sword Dancer of 1959 sired Damascus (1967); last but not least, Triple Crown winner Secretariat of 1973 sired Risen Star, the 1988 winner.


Belmont Stakes Trivia

  • The white carnation is the traditional flower of the Belmont Stakes. The blanket requires approximately 350 carnations, glued to green velveteen spread and weighs between 30 and 40 pounds. The flowers are shipped from California or Bogota, Columbia.

  • The Belmont Breeze is the official drink of the Belmont Stakes. Created by New York premiere beverage authority Dale DeGroff, the profile of the Belmont Breeze comes from the colonial recipe: one of sour, two of sweet, three of strong and four of weak.

    The ingredients are:
    • 1 1/2 ounces of a good American blended whiskey
    • 3/4 ounces Harveys Bristol Cream Sherry
    • 1/2 ounce of fresh lemon juice
    • 1 ounce of simple syrup (1 ounce of sweet and sour mix may be substituted for the lemon juice and simple syrup)
    • 1 1/2 ounces fresh orange juice
    • 1 1/2 ounces cranberry juice
    • 1 ounce 7-Up
    • 1 ounce Club Soda

    Shake first six ingredients with ice, then top with 7-Up and club soda. Garnish with mint sprig and lemon wedge.

  • The purse for the first running of the Belmont was $1,500 added with a total purse of $2,500, with the winner's share taken by the filly Ruthless. The lowest winner's share in Belmont history was the $1,825 earned by The Finn in 1915. The richest Belmont purse ever totaled $1,764,800 and was set in was in 1992.

  • Five times in Belmont history only two horses entered the race: 1887, 1888, 1892, 1910 and sadly, 1920, the year Man O'War triumphed. The largest field, on the other hand, was 15 in 1983, when Caveat defeated Slew O' Gold. In 1875 14 horses ran, when Calvin outdueled stablemate Aristides, that year's winner of the inaugural Kentucky Derby.

  • The Belmont's lowest paid winner: Count Fleet in 1943, who paid a paltry $2.10. The Belmont's highest winner: Sherluck in 1961, who dished out $132.10.

  • A favorite's race: Of the 129 Belmont runnings through 1997, the favorite had won 58 times, including 9 out of the last 25.

  • There have been some strange twists of betting in Belmont history. Since the advent of mutuels in New York in 1940 there have been six times when no place or show betting was taken on the Belmont Stakes. The last time there was no show wagering was in 1978 when Affirmed and Alydar held their famous confrontation. There was also no show betting when Secretariat won his Triple Crown in 1973; no wonder--Secretariat won by a record 31 lengths. Show betting was also eliminated in 1957 when Gallant Man defeated Bold Ruler, and also in 1953 when Native Dancer won. In 1943, believe it or not, there was no place or show wagering when Triple Crown winner Count Fleet went off $.05 to the dollar and won by 25 lengths. To wrap it up, Whirlaway completed his Triple Crown victory in 1941 without show betting. In other words, by the time horses dominate the Derby and Preakness, there just might not be that many challengers when the horse goes to complete the sweep.

  • Since 1940 there have also been 30 horses listed as odds-on favorites in the Belmont Stakes. In 1957, there were two: Gallant Man, who won at 19-20, and Bold Ruler, who finished third at 17-20. Of these 30, only 12 went on to win.

  • The highest-priced Belmont Stakes winner was Sarava ($142.50) in 2002. The lowest $2 win mutuel was Triple Crown winner Count Fleet ($2.10) in 1943.

  • The largest field for the Belmont Stakes was 15 in 1983 and the smallest was two in 1887, 1888, 1892, 1910 and 1920. The second largest field was 14 in 1996 (Editor's Note) and 1875 (Calvin). The widest margin of victory was Secretariat's 31-length victory in the 1973 Belmont Stakes. The smallest margin was a nose by Granville (1936), Jaipur (1962) and Victory Gallop (1998).

  • The 2002 Belmont Stakes set the precedent for horse racing in New York with a record attendance of 103,222. Additional high attendance marks are: 85,818 in 1999 (Lemon Drop Kid denies Charismatic the Triple Crown); 82,694 in 1971 (Pass Catcher denies Canonero II the Triple Crown); and 80,162 in 1998 (Victory Gallop denies Real Quiet the Triple Crown).

  • Secretariat set a world-record that still stands for the mile and a half distance on a dirt track at 2:24. (He had finished a mile and a quarter at 1:59, faster than his own Derby record of 1:59 2/5.)

  • The Belmont Stakes trophy is a Tiffany-made silver bowl, with cover, 18 inches high, 15 inches across and 14 inches at the base. Atop the cover is a silver figure of Fenian, winner of the third running of the Belmont Stakes in 1869. The bowl is supported by three horses representing the three foundation thoroughbreds--Eclipse, Herod and Matchem. The trophy, a solid silver bowl originally crafted by Tiffany's, was presented by the Belmont family as a perpetual award for the Belmont Stakes in 1926. It was the trophy August Belmont's Fenian won in 1869 and had remained with the Belmont family since that time. The winning owner is given the option of keeping the trophy for the year their horse reigns as Belmont champion.

Click here for the list of recent Belmont Stakes winners.