Belmont Stakes takes place once a year at Belmont Park in Elmonst, New York, USA. It is one of the three thoroughbred races that constitute the Triple Crown of United States thoroughbred racing. (The other two are the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.)
There is no fixed date for the Belmont Stakes, but the tradition is to hold it on the third Saturday following Preakness Stakes, which means that it normally takes place within the 5 – 11 June span, on the first or second Saturday of June.
Basic information about Belmont Stakes
This is a Grade I stakes race for 3-year-old thoroughbreds.
Also known as: The Run for the Carnations
Normally held on: The third Saturday following the Preakness (i.e. first or second Saturday in June)
Location: Elmont, New York, USA
Current track: Belmont Park
Current distance: 1½ mile (since 1926)
Weights: Colts and geldings carry 126 pounds, fillies carry 121 pounds
Track type: Dirt
Number of horses: The field is limited to 16 horses
Trophy: The August Belmont Trophy
The longest race in the Triple Crown
In the 19th century and early 20th century, several different distances were tried out for the Belmont Stakes, within the span 15/8 to 11/8 miles.
Since 1926, the distance has been 1 ½ mile (12 furlongs), making this the longest races in the Triple Crown. The Kentucky Derby is 1 ¼ mile and Preakness Stakes is 13⁄16 mile. For many three-year-old horses, the Belmont Stake is more difficult than the other two, because they are not used to races being that long.
Belmont Stakes traditions
Throught the years, a lot of interesting traditions have been created for the Belmont Stakes. Some are gone now, and some are still being carried out.
The Belmont Stakes is also known as The Run for the Carnations, and the winning horse is covered in a blanket consisting of white carnations. This flower-blanket weighs around 40 lbs and making it requires around 700 carnations.
White Carnation used to be the official drink of the Belmont Stakes, but is was replaced by the Belmont Breeze in 1998. The White Carnation drink contains vodka, peach schnapps, orange juice, soda or club soda, and crushed ice. It is served with a splash of cream over the top and garnished with a slice of orange.
Until 1996, “The Sidewalks of New York” was played as the horses paraded prior to the race.
In 1997, in an effort to appeal to a younger audience, “The Sidewalks of New York” was replaced with a Frank Sinatra recording of “Theme from New York, New York”. This music was used in the years 1997-2009. In 2010, it was replaced with Jay-Z:s “Empire State of Mind”, but “Theme from New York, New York” returned in 2011 and has been used ever since.
Clockwise or not?
For the 1867-1920 era, the horses ran clockwise, based on the British tradition. Since 1921, the Belmont Stakes has instead been a counter-clockwise race.
The very first Belmont Stakes took place on June 19, 1867, at Jerome Park Racetrack in the New York City borough Bronx. The race was won by the filly Ruthless (jockey: Gilbert Patrick). The Jerome Park Racetrack was built in 1866 by the stock broker Leonard Jerome and the financier August Belmont Sr.
In 1890, the Belmont Stakes moved from Jerome Park to the nearby Morris Park Racecourse. This would be the home of the race in 1890-1904.
In 1905, the Belmont Stakes moved again, this time to the newly created Belmont Park in Elmont, Long Island.
The Belmont Park racecourse was closed when New York State enacted a ban against gambling, and no Belmont Stakes took place in 1911 and 1912. In 1913, the race was held at Belmont Park again, greeted by a crowd of some 35,000 spectators.
Because of extensive renovations of Belmont Park, the 1963-1967 Belmont Stakes were held at the Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, New York City.
Belmont Stakes milestones and records (up until and including 2014)
Most victorious jockey: Both Eddie Arcaro and Jim McLaughlin have won the Belmont Stakes six times each.
Most victorious trainer: In the period 1883-1913, horses trained by James G. Rowe, Sr. won the Belmont Stakes eight times.
Most victorious owner: This is a tie between stockbroker James R. Keene and the racing stable Belair Stud. Horses owned by Keene won the Belmont Stakes in 1879, 1901, 1904, 1907, 1908, and 1910. Horses owned by Belair Stud won in 1930, 1932, 1935, 1936, 1939, and 1955.
Fastest winner: In 1973, Secretariat finnished the race in 2:24:00. This is not only a record time for the Belmont Stakes, it is also the current world-record for 1½ mile on a dirt track.
Widest margin: When Secretariat won the race in 1973, there were 31 horse lenghts between him and the runner-up. This is the widest win margin ever for the Belmont Stakes.
First female jockey Triple Crown: When the jockey Julie Krone won the 1993 Belmont Stakes, she became the first ever female jockey to capture a US thoroughbred Triple Crown. The winning horse was Colonial Affair.