The Belmont Stakes has long proven to be the most challenging and often the most unpredictable of the Triple Crown races. Victory requires a horse with strength and stamina, a trainer with the knowledge of what it takes to prepare a horse for the marathon 1½-mile distance – one lap around the big dirt track – and a jockey with nerves of steel. So here are some factoids – 154 in honor of this year’s 154th Belmont Stakes – to help you appreciate the considerable and sometimes quirky history and mystique of the known as the “Test of the Champion.” (Pictured is the start of the 1929 Belmont Stakes, won by Blue Larkspur. The photo is courtesy of the Keeneland Library.)
1. The inaugural Belmont Stakes was run in 1867 at Jerome Park Racetrack in the Bronx. The former location of the track is now the Jerome Park Reservoir next to Lehman College.
2. Jerome Park was named for Brooklyn financier and horseman Leonard W. Jerome, whose daughter, Jenny, married a British aristocrat and gave birth to Winston Churchill. The Jerome Stakes, held each January at Aqueduct Racetrack, is named for Jerome.
3. Predating the Kentucky Derby by nine years and the Preakness by seven, the first Belmont Stakes was named for financier and sportsman August Belmont, I, who helped fund the race.
4. The Belmont Stakes is the oldest Triple Crown race and the fourth oldest stakes races in North America, following the Phoenix Breeders’ Cup, originally the Phoenix Stakes, at Keeneland (1831); the Queen’s Plate in Canada (1860); and the Travers at Saratoga (1864).
5. The 1867 Belmont Stakes was run at 1 5/8 miles; the current 1 ½-mile distance wouldn’t be established until 1927.
6. The winner of the inaugural Belmont Stakes was the filly, Ruthless. She is one of only three fillies to win the race.
7. The Belmont Stakes was originally contested in a clockwise direction, similar to traditional European races. It wasn’t until 1921 that the race ran counter-clockwise, like most American races.
8. Francis Morris, the owner of Ruthless, earned $1,850 and an English riding saddle for winning the inaugural Belmont Stakes.
9. For most of its history, the Belmont Stakes, has been run on a Saturday, generally the first or second Saturday in June. The first Belmont Stakes was held June 19, 1867, a Thursday.
10. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, African American jockeys achieved remarkable success on U.S. racetracks. In 1870 aboard Kingfisher, Ed Brown became the first African American rider to win the Belmont Stakes.
11. The first trainer to take back-to-back-to-back Belmont Stakes was David McDaniel, in 1871 with Harry Bassett, in 1872 with Joe Daniels and in 1873 with Springbok.
12. James Rowe, Sr. became the first jockey to take back-to-back Belmont Stakes, in 1872 with Joe Daniels and in 1873 and Springbok.
13. On June 13, 1874, English-bred Saxon became was the first foreign-born winner of the Belmont Stakes.
14. The favorite won the Belmont Stakes in 11 consecutive editions, from 1878 to 1888.
15. In 1879, Spendthrift became the first of owner James Keene’s horses to capture the Belmont Stakes. Keene, a Wall Street stockbroker, would go on to earn six victories in “The Test of Champions.”
16. William Woodward’s Belair Stud would match the record of six wins by an owner in the Belmont Stakes. Those wins included two Triple Crowns: Gallant Fox (1930) and Omaha (1935).
17. The first post parade in the United States took place at the 14th Belmont Stakes, in 1880. Grenada won the race, the second of three Belmont Stakes’ winners owned by George Lorillard.
18. James McLaughlin twice rode three consecutive Belmont winners. He won from 1882 to 1884 and from 1886 to 1888. His six victories in the Belmont Stakes is tied with Eddie Arcaro for the most by a rider.
19. James McLaughlin’s second Belmont Stakes’ victory, in 1883, aboard George Kinney, marked the start of another streak: the first of five wins in a six-year period in “The Test of the Champion” for Dwyer Brothers Stable, owned by a pair of Brooklyn butcher brothers turned horsemen, Phil and Mike Dwyer. Their butcher shop was at the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Court Street.
20. The Dwyer Brothers would win their other Belmont Stakes, in 1884 with Panique, in 1886 with Inspector B, in 1887 with Hanover and 1888 with Sir Dixon.
21. The jockey on all five of the Dwyer Brothers’ winners in the Belmont Stakes was James McLaughlin. As partners or on their own, the Dwyer Brothers also won the Kentucky Derby twice, the Preakness once and the Travers five times. NYRA honors them each year with the Dwyer Stakes for 3-year-olds, the 100th version of which is set for July 7 at Belmont Park.
22. Eric, winner of the 1889 Belmont Stakes, was the first victor sired by a previous winner, in this case, the 1878 champion Duke of Magenta.
23. African American rider Willie Simms took back-to-back Belmont Stakes, in 1893 and 1894. During the 1890s, Simms won all three Triple Crown races, the only African American rider to do so.
24. Guiding Jean Bereaud to victory in 1899 marked the first of trainer Sam Hildreth’s seven wins in the Belmont Stakes. He would also win in 1909, 1916, 1917, 1921, 1923, and 1924.
25. In 1890, with Jerome Park slated to be closed, the Belmont Stakes moves to its second home, Morris Park Racecourse, also in the Bronx. On June 10, 1890, the track hosts both the Belmont Stakes—won by Burlington, trained by Albert Cooper and ridden by Poke Barnes—and he Preakness.
26. On May 4, 1905, August Belmont II. and William Collins Whitney opened Belmont Park, the most lavish track ever built in America, attracting an opening day crowd of 40,000 who witness the dead heat of Sysonby and Race King in the Metropolitan Handicap. Belmont Park, named for August Belmont I, would become the new home of the Belmont Stakes.
27. The crush of horse-drawn carriages and automobiles filled with people trying to get to Belmont Park for opening day was so great that Long Island experienced its “first great automobile logjam,” according to the book, Belmont Park, 1905-1968.
28. Featured at the Clubhouse entrance of Belmont Park—now Gate 5 off Hempstead Turnpike—are four stone pillars, a gift from the Mayor and Park Commissioners of the City of Charleston, S.C. The pillars once stood at the entrance of the Washington Course of the South Carolina Jockey Club in Charleston, S.C., which operated from 1792 to 1882.
29. The cost to build Belmont Park in 1905 was $2.1 million.
30. Seating capacity at Belmont Park on opening day 1905 was 11,000. Today, the seating capacity is about 33,000.
31. Serving as Belmont Park’s first Turf and Field Club was the Manice Mansion, the turreted 19th-century manor house of William De Forest Manice, which was originally on the grounds facing Hempstead Turnpike. The mansion was torn down in 1956.
32. After Belmont Park switched its races to the current-day counter-clockwise direction in the early 1920s, Ring Lardner poked fun at the old clockwise direction. In Lardner’s 1925 book, The Big Town, a character at Belmont Park reminisced: “At that time, they run the wrong way of the track, like you would deal cards.”
33. William Collins Whitney’s homebred Tanya won the first Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park, on the final day of the inaugural meeting in 1905. She was the second filly to win “The Test of the Champion.”
34. Even older than Belmont Park is the Paddock’s iconic White Pine, estimated to be about 200 years old, according to a NYRA history. The iconic tree was incorporated into the Belmont Park logo in 1968.
35. Only James Rowe, Sr. and George Odom have won the Belmont Stakes as both a jockey and a trainer.
36. James Rowe, Sr. holds the record for most wins by a trainer, with eight—in 1893, 1894, 1901, 1904, 1907, 1908, 1910, and 1913.
37. Owners often take pride in giving their thoroughbreds colorful names. Two of the best among early winners of the Belmont Stakes: Peter Pan, the 1907 champion; and Luke McLuke, from 1914.
38. In 1908, the undefeated Colin, whose racing career was declared over because of injury just three days before, made a miraculous recovery to win the Belmont Stakes in a downpour. It was his 14th straight victory and trainer James Rowe Sr.’s most significant win in the Belmont Stakes.
39. Belmont Park in 1910 hosted the International Aviation Tournament, a weeklong air show hosted by Wilbur and Orville Wright. More than 150,000 spectators attended the event that featured aviator Glenn Curtiss in a race to the Statue of Liberty and back to Belmont Park.
40. The Belmont Stakes took a two-year break, in 1911 and 1912, due to anti-gambling legislation in New York. In 1913, guests serenaded the return of racing to Belmont Park by singing Auld Lang Syne.
41. In 1916, August Belmont II won the first of his two consecutive Belmont Stakes, with the victory of his chestnut colt Rock Sand. His winning horse in 1917 was Hourless. Sam Hildreth trained both.
42. In 1918, August Belmont II temporarily suspended his racing operations because of World War I. His decisions included selling a promising yearling named Man o’ War to Samuel Riddle.
43. The Belmont family are six-time winners of the Belmont Stakes.
44. On May 15, 1918, airplanes again took center stage at Belmont Park, with the racetrack serving as the northern point of the first American air mail service. Using U.S. Army aircraft and pilots, the inaugural service operated between Belmont Park and Washington, D.C. That August, the U.S. Post Office took over the airmail operation. That August, the U.S. Postal Service assumed airmail responsibilities.
45. In the 50th Belmont Stakes, in 1918, Harry Payne Whitney’s British-bred bay Johren defeated another British-bred horse, the Preakness winner War Cloud. Trained by Albert Simons, Johren was ridden in the 1 3/8-mile race by Frank Robinson, who would die tragically less than three years later in a racing accident.
46. Trained by H. Guy Bedwell and ridden by Johnny Loftus, Sir Barton in 1919 became thoroughbred racing’s first Triple Crown winner. Sir Barton was supposed to be the pacemaker in the Kentucky Derby for his stablemate, Billy Kelly, but went wire-to-wire to win by five lengths. He took the Preakness by four lengths, followed by his Belmont Stakes triumph, setting an American record for the 1 3/8 miles, the distance for the Belmont Stakes at the time. Sir Barton was bred by John E. Madden and owned by J.K.L. Ross.
47. The great Man o’ War would likely have won the Triple Crown in 1920, but his owner, Sam Riddle, did not enter him in the Kentucky Derby. Man o’ War won the Preakness and then romped in the Belmont Stakes by 20 lengths. Man o’ War, the winner of 20 of 21 career starts, would win all seven of his starts at Belmont Park.
48. Man o’ War’s victory in the Belmont Stakes was the last of five times that the race went off with two horses in the field. There were two-horse fields in 1887, 1888, 1892 and 1910.
49. On June 11, 1921, Grey Lag, under Earl Sande, won the first Belmont Stakes to be run counter-clockwise. It was the first of Sande’s five victories in the Belmont Stakes.
50. In 1925, American Flag became the first three Belmont Stakes winners sired by Man o’ War. His other Belmont Stakes’ champions were Crusader (1926) and Triple Crown winner War Admiral (1937).
51. Man o’ War is one of 14 winners of the Belmont Stakes to sire at least one winner of the race.
52. In 1926, the sterling silver August Belmont Memorial Cup, named after August Belmont I, was awarded for the first time to the winner of the Belmont Stakes.
53. At the top of the solid silver trophy is Fenian, winner of the 1869 Belmont Stakes and August Belmont I’s only horse to win the Belmont Stakes. The bowl is supported by three additional horses—Herod, Eclipse and Matchem—representing the three Thoroughbred foundation sires: the Byerly Turk, the Darley Arabian and the Godolphin Barb.
54. The winning owner may keep the August Belmont Memorial Cup for a year until the next Belmont Stakes winner is crowned. The winning owner, trainer and jockey also receive a silver miniature version of the trophy to keep permanently.
55. In 1926, the Belmont Stakes became 1½ miles, the distance it remains today. The Belmont Stakes is exactly one lap around Belmont Park’s dirt track and is the longest dirt race a horse is Iikely ever to run.
56. Trained by “Sunny Jim” Fitzsimmons and ridden by Earl Sande, Gallant Fox took the 1930 Kentucky Derby in a steady downpour, and then the Preakness, becoming known as “the red-hooded-horse” for the bright red hood he wore in races. At Belmont Park, Gallant Fox easily won the Belmont Stakes from Harry Payne Whitney’s Whichone to become racing’s second winner of the Triple Crown. Gallant Fox was bred and owned by Belair Stud.
57. “Sunny Jim” Fitzsimmons didn’t win the Triple Crown in 1932, but with Faireno, ridden by Tommy Malley, he won that year’s Belmont Stakes, his second.
58. In the 1935 Wood Memorial, Omaha took third, but finished “like a runaway freight train,” as one wrote. That closing speed came in handy later that spring as Omaha, ridden by Willie Saunders, won the Belmont Stakes to become the third Triple Crown winner—and second for trainer “Sunny Jim” Fitzsimmons.
59. The instant Omaha crossed the line in the Belmont Stakes earned him another distinction as he and his sire, Gallant Fox, became the only father/son Triple Crown champions. Omaha was bred and owned by Belair Stud.
60. War Admiral lacked the fierce temperament of his famous father, Man o’ War, but earned the 1937 Triple Crown for his breeder and owner, Samuel D. Riddle. Ridden by Charley Kurtsinger, War Admiral in the Belmont Stakes showed the grit of a champion: After stumbling at the gate and cutting himself on the right front fore-foot, he quickly recovered and won by three lengths.
61. War Admiral’s injury wasn’t discovered until after the race, on the way to the Winner’s Circle. War Admiral’s trainer was George Conway.
62. In 1937, the wrought iron gates from Jerome Park that bear an illustration of the first Belmont Stakes were donated to Belmont Park by August Belmont Jr.’s sole surviving son, Perry Belmont. The gates are now featured on the fourth floor of Clubhouse.
63. In the 1938 Belmont Stakes, Eddie Arcaro rode Gentle Savage to a sixth-place finish, the first of his 21 entries in “The Test of the Champion.” The winner was Pasteurized, trained by George Odom and ridden by Jimmy Stout.
64. Eddie Arcaro won the Belmont Stakes six times—and he is the only rider to win the Triple Crown, twice.
65. Johnstown’s victory in the 1939 Belmont Stakes marked the second straight win for rider Jimmy Stout and the fifth in the race in the decade for trainer “Sunny Jim” Fitzsimmons.
66. In 1940, pari-mutuel wagering was introduced to Belmont Park.
67. Trained by Ben Jones and ridden by Eddie Arcaro, Whirlaway had a habit of “bearing out,” drifting toward the middle of the racetrack, during the latter part of his races and losing as a result. So before the Kentucky Derby, Jones fitted the colt with a full-cup blinker over his right eye, giving him a tiny and straighter field of vision. The ploy worked and Whirlaway in 1941 became the fifth winner of the Triple Crown.
68. That summer of 1941, Whirlaway also won the Travers at Saratoga. He remains the only Triple Crown winner to do so. Whirlaway was bred and owned by Calumet Farm.
69. Geldings were not allowed to compete in the Belmont Stakes from 1919 through 1957.
70. The Spring of 1943 didn’t start well for Count Fleet. He won the Wood Memorial, but was injured in the process. He recovered to take the Kentucky Derby by three lengths and the Preakness by a commanding eight lengths. Then, at the Belmont Stakes, Count Fleet, bred and owned by Mrs. Fannie Hertz and ridden by Johnny Longden, put on a memorable performance—demolishing the competition by 25 lengths.
71. Count Fleet’s winning margin in the Belmont Stakes stood as the record until Secretariat surpassed it in 1973. Count Fleet’s trainer was Don Cameron.
72. Count Fleet in 1943 was also the shortest-priced winner in Belmont Stakes history at $2.10.
73. As a youngster, Assault displayed a limp, having accidentally stepped on what was thought to be a surveyor’s stake and driving it through his front right hoof. But under Max Hirsch’s training, Assault became a force: After stumbling at the start of the 1946 Belmont Stakes, Assault with Warren Mehrtens aboard, rifled past the leaders down the stretch for a three-length victory to earn racing’s seventh Triple Crown. Assault was bred and owned by King Ranch.
74. Neither Gallant Fox in 1930 nor Assault in 1946 were favored in the Belmont Stakes. But both won and in doing so earned the Triple Crown.
75. In capturing the 1948 Belmont Stakes to become the eighth Triple Crown winner and fourth of the 1940s, Citation helped to close out a banner decade for thoroughbred racing.
76. Aboard “Big Cy” was Eddie Arcaro, capturing his second Triple Crown. Citation was bred and owned by Calumet Farm; his trainer was Horace A. “Jimmy” Jones.
77. Citation’s time in the Belmont Stakes tied a then-record 2:28.20 shared by the sixth Triple Crown winner, Count Fleet.
78. Following Citation’s Triple Crown win in 1948, seven Derby/Preakness winners tried and failed in the Belmont Stakes before Secretariat ended the drought in 1973.
79. Aboard Middleground at the 1950 Belmont Stakes, apprentice jockey and future Hall of Famer Bill Boland at age 16 became the youngest rider to win the Belmont Stakes.
80. After narrowly losing to Swaps in the 1955 Kentucky Derby, Nashua, trained by “Sunny Jim” Fitzsimmons and ridden by Eddie Arcaro, came back to win the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes. Later, Nashua would defeat Swaps in their famous match race in Chicago.
81. Nashua’s victory in the Belmont Stakes marked was the sixth and final Belmont win for Fitzsimmons as well as Arcaro’s sixth win, which tied him with James McLaughlin for the all-time record by a rider.
82. As if he was avenging some demons, Willie Shoemaker guided Gallant Man to a dominant eight-length triumph in the 1957 Belmont Stakes. In the Kentucky Derby, Shoemaker would almost certainly have won but misjudged the finish line and stood up too early in his stirrups, which slowed Gallant Man's rush for the wire and allowed another Hall of Fame jockey, Bill Hartack, riding Iron Liege, to win by a nose. Gallant Fox achieved Belmont Stakes’ track and race records, which stood until Secretariat in 1973.
83. With his 1957 victory aboard Gallant Man, Shoemaker followed up with Belmont Stakes’ wins in 1959, 1962, 1967, and 1975.
84. Hall of Famer rider Bill Hartack was a five-time winner of the Kentucky and a three-time winner of the Preakness. In 1960, aboard the Irish-bred Celtic Ash, Hartack won his lone Belmont Stakes.
85. After Hall of Famer Braulio Baeza, Sr., captured the first of his three Belmont Stakes, in 1961 on 65-to-1 longshot Sherluck, he and former U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower chatted in the Winner’s Circle. They had a connection: Baeza, a native of Panama, and Eisenhower discussed the General’s time he spent while stationed there in the U.S. Army.
86. In 1962, as part of the NYRA’s program to revitalize racing in New York, Belmont Park closed so the Grandstand could be rebuilt and the facility modernized.
87. So what is Big Sandy? It’s the nickname give to the Belmont Park track for its large circumference and sandy surface.
88. To accommodate the upgrade of Belmont Park, the Belmont Stakes moved to Aqueduct Racetrack from 1963 to 1967.
89. When Reginald Webster’s Amberoid took the 1966 Belmont Stakes at Aqueduct, it gave trainer Lucien Lauren a victory in his first attempt in “The Test of the Champion.” Aboard Amberoid was Bill Boland.
90. Featuring a new $30.7 million grandstand, Belmont Park reopened May 20, 1968 with a total attendance capacity of more than 100,000, and the adjoining Backyard being able to accommodate more than 10,000. The seating portion totals nearly 33,000.
91. On June 1, 1968, not quite two weeks after the reopening of the Belmont Park, Stage Door Johnny took the 100th running of the Belmont Stakes, thanks to a stirring stretch run by rider Heliodoro “Gus” Gustines. It marked the first stakes win for the lightly raced chestnut colt, trained by John Gaver and owned by Greentree Stable.
92. Making Stage Door Johnny’s victory in the 1968 Belmont Stakes even sweeter for many New Yorkers among a crowd of 54,654 was that his owner, Greentree Stable, was run at the time by a couple of fellow New Yorkers: John Hay “Jock” Whitney and his sister Joan Whitney Payson, the owner of the New York Mets.
93. Salvaged from the mid-1960s’ renovation of Belmont Stakes were the iron railings with racing motifs that border the part of the Paddock closest to the Grandstand. The railings are painted to commemorate each of the 13 Triple Crown winners.
94. In taking the 1969 Belmont Stakes aboard Arts and Letters at the newly-renovated Belmont Park, Hall of Famer Braulio Baeza, Sr. became the only jockey to win three Belmont Stakes on three different surfaces. His first two victories were in 1961 on Sherluck at the old Belmont Park; and in 1963 on Chateaugay when the race was at Aqueduct.
95. What was then the largest crowd in Belmont Stakes’ history, 82,694, descended on Belmont Park in 1971 to see Canonero II’s unsuccessful bid for the Triple Crown. The upset winner was October House Farm’s Pass Catcher, trained by Eddie Yowell and ridden by Walter Blum.
96. In 1972, trainer Lucien Laurin made it two-for-two in his Belmont Stakes’ entries with Riva Ridge, owned by Meadow Stable and ridden by Ron Turcotte.
97. With Secretariat blazing into the far turn in the 1973 Belmont Stakes on his way to the first Triple Crown in 25 years, track announcer Chick Anderson summed up the astonishing performance: “Secretariat is widening now,” he said. “He is moving like a tremendous machine.” Ridden by Ron Turcotte, Secretariat would win the Belmont Stakes by 31 lengths, and in a record time of 2:24.
98. Secretariat’s victory paid $2.40 to place and $2.20 to win.
99. Belmont Park’s Secretariat pole, painted blue and white for the stable colors of his owner and breeder Penny Chenery of Meadow Stable, commemorates the feat. The pole is just inside the rail at Belmont Stakes, 31 lengths from the finish line to commemorate his remarkable margin of victory. Secretariat was trained by Lucien Laurin.
100. Secretariat’s triumph made trainer Lucien Lauren three-for-three in his Belmont. Secretariat made the covers of TIME Magazine, Newsweek and Sports Illustrated, the only figure in history to do so.
101. Hall of Famer Angel Cordero, Jr. guided Kentucky Derby winner Bold Forbes to a wire-to-wire victory in the 1976 Belmont Stakes. Trained by Laz Barrera, Bold Forbes would be named 3-Year-Old Horse of the Year.
102. Seattle Slew, trained by Billy Turner and ridden by Jean Cruguet, won the 1977 Belmont Stakes to become the 10th winner of the Triple Crown.
103. Seattle Slew would become the first Triple Crown winner to take the title without having lost a race.
104. Ridden by Steve Cauthen, Affirmed in 1978 became the 11th horse to win the Triple Crown. In all three Triple Crown races, he defeated Alydar, ridden by Jorge Velasquez, by a nose in one of the racing’s epic rivalries. Affirmed and Alydar would race 10 times in their careers, with Affirmed winning seven races.
105. His second-place finish in the Belmont Stakes made Alydar became the only horse to finish second in all three Triple Crown races.
106. With Affirmed’s victory in the Belmont Stakes, Steve Cauthen, at age 18, became the youngest jockey to win the Triple Crown.
107. Coastal, the 1979 Belmont Stakes winner, and Temperence Hill, the 1980 champion, were supplemental entries to the Belmont Stakes.
108. In the 1978 Jockey Club Gold Cup, Exceller became the only horse to defeat two Triple Crown winners, Seattle Slew and Affirmed.
109. The winner of the Belmont Stakes earns a blanket made of the race’s traditional flower, the White Carnation. The blanket of 300 to 400 carnations worn by the victor approximately takes 10 hours to put together.
110. The Secretariat statue in the paddock also receives a garland of carnations, draped across the base, for the Belmont Stakes.
111. After winning the Met Mile only six days earlier, Conquistador Cielo won the 1982 Belmont Stakes, giving trainer Woody Stephens his first victory in “The Test of the Champion.” Aboard was Hall of Famer Laffit Pincay, Jr.
112. In 1984, Sarah Lundy became the first female trainer to saddle a horse in the Belmont Stakes, sending out Minstrel Star, who finished 11th.
113. On June 9, 1984 with a wire-to-wire victory by Swale, trainer Woody Stephens and rider Laffit Pincay, Jr. won their third consecutive Belmont Stakes.
114. With his victory in the 1984 Belmont Stakes, Pincay became the only rider in the 20th century to win three straight runnings of “The Test of the Champion.” Pincay rode Caveat to victory in 1983 and Conquistador Cielo in 1982. His Belmont “triple” matched the “three-feat,” which James McLaughlin achieved twice.
115. In 1985, Brushwood Stables’ Creme Fraiche, ridden by Eddie Maple, became the first gelding to win the Belmont Stakes. It was Woody Stephens’ fourth consecutive victory in the Belmont Stakes.
116. Ridden by Chris McCarron, Danzig Connection took the 1986 Belmont Stakes on a sloppy track, which gave Woody Stephens his fifth consecutive win in the race, a record that is likely to never be broken.
117. Today, the display, “Woody’s Corner” on the first floor just inside the main Clubhouse Gates, commemorates Woody Stephens’ five consecutive Belmont Stakes winners.
118. Chris McCarron’s victory on Danzig Connection marked the first of his six Triple Crown victories. He would notch his second win in the Belmont Stakes in 1997 aboard Touch Gold.
119. Easy Goer romped by eight lengths to win the 1989 Belmont Stakes in 2:26, the second fastest time in the history of the race. Easy Goer, owned by Ogden Phipps, was trained by Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey and ridden by Hall of Famer Pat Day.
120. On June 8, 1991, Julie Krone became the first woman to compete in the Belmont Stakes, riding Subordinated Debt, the third-longest shot in the field, to a ninth-place finish.
121. In taking third in the 1991 Belmont Stakes behind victor Hansel, ridden by Jerry Bailey, Mane Minister became the only horse to finish third in all three Triple Crown races.
122. Despite missing the Kentucky Derby and Preakness due to injury, A.P. Indy, a grandson of Secretariat, in 1992 peeled off the third fastest Belmont Stakes in history. Trained by Neil Drysdale and ridden by Eddie Delahoussaye, A.P. Indy finished in 2:26.13 en route to Horse of the Year honors.
123. Aboard Colonial Affair in the 1993 Belmont Stakes, Julie Krone became the first female jockey to win a Triple Crown race. The Hall of Famer retired in 2004.
124. “I get paid to spoil dreams,” Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas once said. In 1994, Tabasco Cat, ridden by Pat Day, earned Lukas the first of three consecutive victories in the Belmont Stakes.
125. After winning the Belmont Stakes from 1994 to 1996, D. Wayne Lukas took a fourth title, in 2000, with Commendable, with Pat Day aboard.
126. "New York, New York" became the official theme song of the Belmont Stakes in 1997, replacing Sidewalks of New York.
127. In taking the 1998 Belmont Stakes, Canada-bred Victory Gallop, trained by Elliott Walden and ridden by Gary Stevens, became the ninth foreign-born winner of “The Test of the Champion.”
128. In one of the most poignant finishes to a Triple Crown bid, jockey Chris Antley cradled the injured front leg of Charismatic after crossing the finish line third in the 1999 Belmont Stakes.
129. The winner of the 1999 Belmont Stakes was a name for the ages: Lemon Drop Kid, owned by Jeanne Vance, and the future winner of the Travers, Whitney and Woodward. The Lemon Drop Kid is a 1951 comedy film starring Bob Hope as a racetrack tout; it is based on the short story of the same name by Damon Runyon.
130. In the 2002 Belmont Stakes, Sarava, at 70¼-1 odds, upset War Emblem and his bid for the Triple Crown. Trained by Kenny McPeek, Sarava was ridden by Hall of Famer Edgar Prado.
131. A $2 bid on Sarava returned $142.50, the highest paying winner in Belmont Stakes history.
132. Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel was 0-for-9 in Triple Crown races until Empire Maker, ridden by another Hall of Famer, Jerry Bailey, won the 2003 Belmont Stakes to end the Triple Crown hopes of the New York-bred Funny Cide.
133. The Triple Crown attempt by Smarty Jones in 2004 set a single-day attendance record at Belmont Park of 120,139.
134. Beating Smarty Jones in his run for immorality was Mrs. Marylou Whitney Stables’ 36-1 Birdstone, ridden by Edgar Prado and trained by Nick Zito.
135. Birdstone’s triumph in 2004 marked the first victory in the Belmont Stakes for Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito. It came after his horses had finished second five times in “The Test of the Champion.”
136. Post position #1 has produced the most Belmont Stakes winners while held at Belmont Park, 24 in total.
137. In beating and eventual Horse of the Year winner Curlin by a nose in the 2007 Belmont Stakes, Rags to Riches became the first filly to win “The Test of the Champion” since Tanya in 1905 and the third in history.
138. Rags to Riches’ victory in 2007 marked the first Belmont Stakes triumph for trainer Todd Pletcher and Hall of Famer rider John Velazquez. Rags to Riches also became the first filly to win the race at the current 1½-mile distance at Belmont Park.
139. In the 2014 Belmont Stakes, Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner California Chrome entered a field of 11 at betting odds of 4-5 to start the morning, but finished fourth.
140. Before a roaring crowd of 90,000 at Belmont Park and an estimated 22 million television viewers nationwide, American Pharoah won the Belmont Stakes on June 6, 2015 to become the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years.
141. When Tapwrit, ridden by Jose Ortiz, won the 2017 Belmont Stakes, Ortiz and his older brother Irad Ortiz, Jr, the victor in the 2016 Belmont Stakes, became the first brothers to ride winners in “The Test of the Champion.”
142. Tapwrit’s victory marked trainer Todd Pletcher’s third win in the Belmont Stakes. He became the first trainer since Lucien Laurin 1996 to win the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes with different horses.
143. When Justify crossed the finish line to win the 2018 Belmont Stakes after taking the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness as well, he became horse racing’s 13th Triple Crown and second in four years.
144. Justify is the only one of 13 Triple Crown winners who did not race as a 2-year-old.
145. In guiding Justify to victory in the 2018 Triple Crown series, Mike Smith at 52 became the oldest rider to win the Triple Crown. Victor Espinoza, who won aboard American Pharoah at age 43, is the next oldest.
146. When Gary Stevens retired, Mike Smith, with his three wins in the Belmont Stakes, became the active rider with the most wins in “The Test of the Champion.” His other wins were in 2013 with Palace Malice, trained by Todd Pletcher; and in 2010 aboard Drosselmeyer, trained by Bill Mott.
147. After the 2018 Belmont Stakes, Justify was retired to follow Seattle Slew as the only Triple Crown winners to take the title without having lost a race. Justify won all six of his career starts.
148. The horse who came from the back and hurtled down the stretch to take second to Justify in the 2018 Belmont Stakes has a memorable name. It’s Gronkowski, named for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ tight end Rob Gronkowski, who is a minority owner of the horse.
149. Justify’s win meant that all 13 Triple Crown winners ran the Belmont Stakes and secured immortality… at Belmont Park.
150. After winning the 2019 Preakness, trainer Mark Casse’s War of Will went off as one of the favorites in the Belmont Stakes. Instead, Casse's other colt in the race, the 10-1 Sir Winston, was the upset winner. Ridden by Joel Rosario, Sir Winston was making his Triple Crown debut after finishing second in the Peter Pan Stakes, the traditional prep for the Belmont.
151. In one of the oddest Belmont Stakes of all, Sackatoga Stable’s Tiz the Law thundered down the stretch before to win the 2020 “Test of the Champion” in front of a nearly empty grandstand. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, spectators were not allowed and the race was contested at 1 1/8 miles, instead of the traditional 1 1/2 miles to account for the break in training that many horses took during the pandemic.
152. The 2020 Belmont Stakes was also one of the first major sporting events to be held during the pandemic – and for the first time ever, led off the year’s Triple Crown series.
153. So what did Tiz the Law have in common with the 1882 Belmont Stakes winner Forester? Trained by Barclay Tagg and ridden by Manny Franco, Tiz the Law became the first New York-bred horse to win the Belmont Stakes… since Forester, 138 years before.
154. When Essential Quality ran down a pacesetting Hot Rod Charlie in the stretch to win the 2021 Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park, it marked the first Belmont Stakes win for all connections: trainer Brad Cox and owner Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, as well as jockey Luis Saez.
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