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10 Surprising facts about The Test of the Champions

| May 29, 2023

The Belmont Stakes, also known as the “The Test of the Champions,” is set to happen this coming June 10, 2023, at Belmont Park, Elmont, New York. The Test of the Champion is the final leg of the highly-coveted Triple Crown Series. Moreover, it is one of the most followed races competed by the fastest and most qualified three-year-old thoroughbreds of their generation. 

As the big day quickly approaches, let’s learn more about Belmont Stakes’ historical facts, famous upsets, distance and records, and cultural significance, among other surprising facts about the race!

Purses and Betting

There will be no Triple Crown winner since a different horse won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. Nonetheless, in 2023, the total purse of the Belmont Stakes is a whopping $1.5 million. The winner’s share from this purse money is $900,000 from $800,000 in 2022. To get ahead in betting, check out the Belmont stakes odds today to see if it’s the best time to finalize your bet. 

The Belmont Stakes is known as The Test of the Champions

Historical Facts 

The Test of the Champions is the oldest race in the Triple Crown. Moreover, it is the fourth longest-running race in North America. Belmont Stakes didn’t originate as a race like the first two jewels of the Triple Crown Series. 

The first Belmont was a thoroughbred who arrived in California in 1853. The racehorse was bred in Franklin, Ohio. Meanwhile, the stakes race called  Belmont Stakes was inspired by August Belmont, a prominent politician in New York who is also a financier. 

The Triple Crown

The Belmont Stakes is the third and last leg of the world-famous Triple Crown Series. It is held five weeks after the Kentucky Derby and three weeks after the Preakness Stakes. If a horse has won the Preakness Stakes and the Kentucky Derby, the Belmont Stakes will be the most exciting big race of the year. If the horse wins the Belmont Stakes, it will be hailed as a Triple Crown champion. For the record, only 13 thoroughbreds have won the Triple Crown.

Famous Upsets

A few unforgettable upsets have happened in the Belmont Stakes. Sarava’s win against the Triple Crown aspirant and fan-favorite War Emblem was the most famous upset in the stakes’ history in 2002. 

At the start of the race, the leading horse stumbled to his feet as Sarava, the eventual race winner, galloped to ace the race. Other memorable upsets in Belmont Stakes are Birdstone’s win against Smarty Jones in 2004 and Da ‘Tara’s win against heavy favorite Big Brown in 2008.

Speed Records

Triple Crown champion Secretariat is the record holder in the Belmont Stakes, with a 2:24 flat speed record in 1973. Easy Goer in 1989 followed Secretariat with a 2:26 flat speed record. 

Notable Attendees

Belmont Stakes is among the top-attended racing events in the United States. Many celebrities attend the event. Some notable stars who have graced Belmont Park are Tony Randall, Matthew Broderick, Sarah Jessica Parker, Steven Spielberg, Bobby Flay, and Joe Torre, among many others. 

Belmont Park

The New York Racing Association operates Belmont Park, one of the most popular racing venues in the northeastern United States. Additionally, it is known as one of the elite race tracks in North America. 

The track first opened its gate on May 4, 1905. It levels with Churchill Downs in Kentucky, Saratoga Racecourse in Upstate New York, and Del Mar at Santa Anita. The venue hosted its largest crowd in 2004 when Smarty Jones failed in his Triple Crown bid after suffering from a big upset against the eventual winner, Birdstone. 

Notable Trainers and Jockeys

Geroge M. Odom and James G. Rowe Sr. are the only two individuals who have won the Belmont Stakes as both jockeys and trainers. Another fun fact is that ten female trainers have trained thoroughbreds in the Belmont Stakes. Moreover, James McLaughlin is the only rider who has won three consecutive wins in the Belmont Stakes twice. Jockey Eddie Arcaro rode six winners between 1941 to 1955. Two of these horses are Triple Crown victors. 

Run for the Carnations

The Belmont Stakes is known as the Run for the Carnations, just like how the Kentucky Derby is known as the Run for the Roses. The Belmont Stakes winner receives a blanket made out of carnations during the awarding ceremony. More than 700 carnations are used to make the flower blanket.

Fillies in the Belmont Stakes

While most derby winners are Colts and studs, some fillies have successfully conquered the race. In its long history, three fillies have won the Belmont Stakes. These fillies were Ruthless (1867), Tanya (1905), and Rags to Riches (2007). 

Conclusion

The enduring legacy of the Belmont Stakes continuously draws in modern racegoers and fans. The 155th run of the Belmont stakes this coming June 10, 2023, proves the race’s illustrious history as the longest-running race in the annual Triple Crown Series. Through the years, the Belmont Stakes has also produced the best-performing thoroughbreds we know today.

Category: International

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