10 Remarkable Tidbits About the Belmont Stakes

Belmont Stakes is dubbed as the Test of the Champion since it’s the last bid of the three-year-old winner of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes to the Triple Crown title. It is also considered one of the most significant sports events in the United States, with the highest race attendance of 120,139 in 2004.

More than these facts, the Belmont Stakes has a rich history filled with remarkable tidbits. As the Belmont Stakes draws closer, we will delve into these essential facts and appreciate its legacy in the horse racing industry.

1. The Missing Triple Crown Winners

There are notable horses who had heartbreaking misses in the Belmont Stakes. Smarty Jones and California Chrome had the most notable near misses. Both were heavy favorites in the Belmont Stakes betting online during their respective races in 2004 and 2014. These thoroughbreds have won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes and were almost-winners of the trilogy.

Smarty Jones only came second in the race, following Birdstone, a longshot in the competition. California Chrome ended his Triple Crown Series bid after winning fourth in the 2014 Belmont Stakes. Perhaps, these stories of almost-Triple Crown champs made the race even more interesting, drawing in more fans every year.

2. The Oldest Triple Crown Races

The Triple Crown Series comprise the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes. The inaugural Belmont Stakes took place in 1867 at Jerome Park. In 1905, the venue was changed to Belmont Park. The champion thoroughbred in the inaugural race was Ruthless. It was initially named the Belmont Futurity, allowing three-year-old colts and fillies to race. It was rebranded as Belmont Stakes in 1870 and officially became part of the Triple Crown Series in 1926.

3. The Distance Challenge

Since 1926, the Belmont Stakes has been run at 1 ½ miles, except in 2020. From 1874 to 1889, it was run at the same distance. From 1867 to 1873, it was run at one mile and five furlongs; 1 ¼ miles in 1890 to 1892, 1895, and 1904 to 1905; one mile and one furlong in 1893 to 1894 and 2020; and a mile and three furlongs from 1896 to 1903 and 1906 to 1925.

4. Secretariat’s Record-Breaking Performance

Only five thoroughbreds ran in the 1973 Belmont Stakes. Secretariat was among Sham, My Gallant, Twice A Prince, and Private Smiles, vying for the Belmont Stakes title. However, for Secretariat, the Triple Crown Series title was the goal. He was a heavy favorite in the race, sent off as a 1-10 favorite. The chestnut colt recorded the fastest 112 miles on dirt in history, with a 2:24 flat record.

5. The “Test of the Champion” Moniker

The Belmont Stakes is called the Test of the Champion because many trainers and jockeys believe it is the most challenging race to win in the Triple Crown Series. Only 13 thoroughbreds have successfully conquered the Triple Crown quest, with Secretariat being the most celebrated. It is also known as Run for the Carnations because carnations are traditionally draped over the winner during the awarding ceremony.

6. The Belmont Stakes and Gender Barrier

Based on studies, colts run 1% faster than fillies. This is probably the reason why male horses are the frequent winners of racing events. In the case of Belmont Stakes, three fillies have prevailed in the race: Ruthless (1867), Tanya (1905), and Rags to Riches (2007).

7. Most Successful Female Jockey

So far, Julie Krone was the first female jockey who rode a Belmont Stakes winner. The iconic win happened at the 1993 Belmont Stakes. She mounted Colonial Affair, who was a long shot in the race. Krone was also the first female jockey inducted into the Racing Hall of Fame.

8. C Winners

For the record, 20 thoroughbreds whose names start with C won the Belmont Stakes. The most recent was Creator in 2016. Meanwhile, no thoroughbred whose names start with X and Y has ever won the race.

9. The Greatest Jockeys in the Belmont Stakes

James McLaughlin was the first jockey to earn six editions of the Belmont Stakes from 1882 to 1888. He was then followed by Eddie Arcaro, who achieved the same feat in 1955. The leading active rider of the race is Mike Smith, who has three title wins under his belt.

10. Best Trainer in the Belmont Stakes

James Rowe Sr. is known as the most successful trainer in the history of the Belmont Stakes. He has eight Belmont Stakes titles under his belt. Moreover, Rowe won the stakes two times as a jockey when he mounted Joe Daniels in 1872 and Springbok in 1873.


The enduring legacy of the Belmont Stakes is manifested in the ten tidbits we have shared with you. We only have a few days left before the final leg of the Triple Crown Series and spectators. While there’s no Triple Crown Series victor to expect this year, spectators still look forward to witnessing the longest and oldest horse racing event in the trilogy.

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