Ten Fun Facts About the Belmont Stakes

Events / Travel

Trainer Todd Pletcher lifts the Belmont Stakes trophy after winning the race with Palace Malice in 2013. (Photos by Eclipse Sportswire unless otherwise noted)

The Belmont Stakes, known as the “Test of the Champion” and “Run for the Carnations,” has a reputation as the toughest test in the Triple Crown. But in addition to being the longest, and last, race in the Triple Crown series, there are multiple other facts that you should know about the race before the big day on June 6.

Continue reading to learn more interesting and off-the-wall facts about the Belmont Stakes that you can use to impress your friends when watching the possible history-making race.

1. Do you know what “Belmont” means? Well, the inaugural stakes race and eventually, the racetrack itself were named after August Belmont. He served as a prominent New York horseman, financier, and as a pioneering chairman of The Jockey Club. He also was known for sporting a fine set of mutton chops from time to time.

Photo by WikiCommons

2. Accordingly, the winner of the Belmont Stakes receives the August Belmont Memorial Cup. The three foundational sires of the Thoroughbred breed - Herod (from the line of the Byerley Turk), Eclipse (from the line of the Darley Arabian), and Matchem (from the line of the Godolphin Arabian) - support the cup. Atop the cup sits Fenian, the winner of the Belmont Stakes in 1869.

3. Also on the line in this year’s edition is the coveted Triple Crown trophy. Since Affirmed last captured all three American classics (the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes) in 1978, the Cartier-designed piece of hardware has been shipped to Belmont 12 times. However, in the 37 years since Affirmed won no one has claimed the trophy. If American Pharoah wins the Belmont Stakes, his connections will go home with the triangle-shaped trophy.

4. The chance to potentially witness history this year will run you $15 for general admission to Belmont Park. The cheapest tickets to see the Super Bowl generally run north of $2,000, so this chance to see history is one of the great bargains in sports.

5. More than 700 carnations make up the decorative blanket that is draped over the Belmont Stakes-winning horse.

6. The statue of Secretariat in the paddock at Belmont Park also receives a similar blanket of carnations to recognize his amazing performance in the 1973 edition of the race.

7. Trainer Woody Stephens was 69 years old when his record streak of five straight Belmont Stakes victories began in 1982. Those were his only five wins in the Belmont.

8. James Rowe not only trained a record eight winners in his day, he also won the race as a jockey in 1872 and 1873.

9. There have been nine foreign-born Belmont Stakes-winning horses but none since the Canadian-bred Victory Gallop won in 1998.

10. The Belmont is run on the largest dirt track in North America, Belmont Park, measuring a massive 1 ½ miles around. This expansive layout makes the Churchill Downs and Pimlico Race Course one-mile ovals look like junior varsity tracks in comparison. 

Photo by NYRA/Coglinese Photos

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