Twelve Things to Know About the 2020 Belmont Stakes

Racing
2018 Triple Crown winner Justify is one of only three post-time favorites to win the Belmont Stakes over the past 15 years, joining Afleet Alex that year and Triple Crown winner American Pharoah in 2015. (Eclipse Sportswire)

With a new distance and a new place on the calendar, this year’s Belmont Stakes is unlike any other. A compact field of nine, highlighted by Tiz the Law, is expected for the historic race.

Read on for 12 things to know about Saturday’s Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park.

1. This year is the first time ever that the Belmont will precede both the Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve and the Preakness Stakes. The Derby will be run Sept. 5 and the Preakness on Oct. 3.

2. The Belmont Stakes has been won by the betting favorite just three times in the last 15 years, and two were Triple Crown winners: Justify (2018), American Pharoah (2015), and Afleet Alex (2005). Historically, favorites fare a little better with 63 wins in 151 editions, good for a 42% win rate.

3. The Belmont Stakes is the shortest of the three Triple Crown races this year. While usually the longest of the three at 1 ½ miles, the Belmont has been shortened to 1 1/8 miles for 2020 since 3-year-olds haven’t been able to build stamina with the customary racing calendar this spring.

4. The race has been run at four different tracks, all in New York. The Belmont Stakes was inaugurated in 1867 at Jerome Park, moved to Morris Park in 1890, and then was held at Belmont Park when that track opened in 1905. From 1963 to 1967, the Belmont Stakes was held at Aqueduct while Belmont Park was rebuilt.

5. No woman has trained a winner of the Belmont Stakes. That could change this year if Max Player is victorious for Linda Rice.

6. The Belmont has been decided by the slimmest of margins, a nose, on four occasions: when Creator edged Destin in 2016, Victory Gallop denied Real Quiet the Triple Crown in 1998, when Jaipur defeated Admiral’s Voyage in 1962, and when Granville beat Mr. Bones in 1936.

7. Triple Crown winners own the two largest winning margins in the Belmont. Secretariat won by 31 lengths in 1973 and Count Fleet won by 25 lengths 30 years prior.

Todd Pletcher (Eclipse Sportswire)

8. Last year a grand total of $102,163,280 was wagered on Belmont day races, including more than $90 million wagered off-site. This year even fewer dollars will be bet on-track as there will be a very limited number of people present and no fans.

9. Trainer Todd Pletcher has more wins in the Belmont than any other conditioner in this year’s race, with three: filly Rags to Riches (2007), Palace Malice (2013), and Tapwrit (2017). This year he has two chances to add to his total with Dr Post and Farmington Road expected for the race.

10. This year’s Belmont Stakes is worth $1 million, with $535,000 of that reserved for the winner. Ruthless, the winner of the first-ever Belmont Stakes took home $1,850 of a total purse of $2,500.

11. Thirteen Belmont winners later sired (fathered) at least one Belmont victor, most recently 2004 winner Birdstone when his son Summer Bird won in 2009.

12. Just three horses born in New York have won their state’s biggest race, and none since Forester in 1882. Tiz the Law will attempt to become the fourth on Saturday. His trainer Barclay Tagg and owner Sackatoga Stable unsuccessfully attempted to win the Belmont Stakes in 2003 with Triple Crown hopeful Funny Cide, another New York-bred.

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