The Belmont Stakes is the most intense and challenging horse racing events out there. It is the final leg of the Triple Crown and certainly the toughest. The Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes are child’s play by comparison for many racers.
There has been a history of high achieving champions and record-breaking performances, that are still being honored today. These are some interesting facts about the Belmont Stakes that you may not have known about.
One of the many traditions of the Belmont Stakes involves the winner being coated in a blanket made out of carnations. While the Kentucky Derby is known as the ‘run for the roses’, the Belmont Stakes is the run for the carnations.
Belmont Stakes winners are draped in these carnations with more than 700 flowers once the outcome has been announced.
Oldest Triple Crown Event
Although the Kentucky Derby is widely considered to be the most popular event within the Triple Crown, it is the Belmont Stakes that is the oldest running event out of the three.
The Belmont Stakes was first run in 1867 at Jerome Park. This makes the event the fourth-oldest stakes event in North America, and the oldest Triple Crown event.
Horses Ran Backwards Until 1921
This may sound like a safety hazard, but the horses would run around the track during the Belmont Stakes in a clockwise direction, like they did in England. There are many racing traditions which were seen in early versions of the Belmont Stakes, but the beginning of the twentieth century saw the event really coming into its own.
The same can be said for other horse racing events at the time. Each event began to get a little creative with new ideas, technology, and getting spectators involved.
Betting really started to take off during this period. If you are looking to take part in an age-old tradition of betting, take a look at the belmont stakes contenders for accurate predictions.
Secretariat’s Receives Carnations
This icon is commemorated every year for his achievements and records within the Belmont Stakes. The statue in Belmont Park also gets covered in carnations every year. There may not be 700, but it is still a nice way of remembering the current record holder for the Belmont Stakes.
Secretariat is widely regarded as one of the greatest horses in racing history, and it’s no wonder that he is still a prominent figure to this day. Take a closer look at the thoroughbred’s statue the next time you are visiting Belmont Park to see how special Secretariat truly is.
Largest Dirt Track In North America
Something which many people are unaware of is that Belmont Park has the largest dirt track in all of North America. It is one and a half miles long, which is part of the reason why many people consider the Belmont Stakes as a grueling event for racers.
As the final leg of the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes is the longest in distance as well as duration. The event really lives up to its reputation as one of the most challenging annual races.
2004 Had The Largest Crowd
Smarty Jones was attempting to win the Triple Crown in 2004. This managed to draw in record-breaking numbers of spectators to Belmont Park. There were around 120,139 audience members in attendance recorded, which set the record for the largest crowd at the Belmont Stakes.
Nowadays, the Belmont Stakes can be watched from anywhere in the world. This is because of the integration of complex technology and the internet. Viewers are able to engage in betting and watch the events take place in real time without having to leave their homes.
Three Fillies Have Won This Event
While the norm for race horses is for studs and colts to win and be high performers, fillies have been known to win at the Belmont Stakes. There are three to have done so in the past.
These are Ruthless, who won in 1867 and became the first filly Belmont Stakes winner. Additionally, Tanya won in 1905, and Rags to Riches won the event in 2007.
‘Big Sandy’ Is The Toughest Challenge
There is a reason why the Belmont Stakes is known as the ‘Test Of The Champion’, as it is known as one of the most challenging tracks out there. This is partially due to the sandy terrain, which makes it harder to navigate through.
It is this that gained the track in Belmont Park the nickname ‘Big Sandy’. The 1.5-mile distance can be incredibly tough and grueling for racers, which is why those that win and set speed records are so highly celebrated.
The Belmont Stakes has always been a unique event within the thoroughbred racing calendar. This is because of the huge stakes involved, that have potential to see another Triple Crown winner at the end of the races.
It truly is the test of the champion, and those who have gone on to set record times around the tough track deserve to be celebrated.