The Belmont Stakes is the oldest of the three races in horse racing’s Triple Crown, and has a rich history that spans almost a century-and-a-half.
The mile-and-a-half marathon has been regarded as the ultimate test for American Thoroughbreds, and while there have only been 11 horses to win the Triple Crown, there have been many horses that have fallen short at Belmont Park on the first Saturday in June, but still strong while running. 22 horses since 1932 have won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness only to fall short in this race.
Here is the list of horses that have won the Belmont Stakes (Source):
Best Times & Performances
The Belmont Stakes has always been full of surprises. The mile-and-a-half distance is a real test for horses, especially in this day and age. Thoroughbreds are current trained for speed, not stamina and distance, so while a horse like American Pharoah is surely strong and the class of Saturday’s field, he may not necessarily win the race due to this being his 3rd race in five weeks, competing against other horses who haven’t run all three races.
These are the 10 fastest times in the Belmont Stakes’ almost 147-year history:
1973 Secretariat* 02:24.0
1989 Easy Goer 02:26.0
1992 A.P. Indy 02:26.1
1988 Risen Star 02:26.4
1957 Gallant Man 02:26.6
2001 Point Given 02:26.8
1994 Tabasco Cat 02:26.8
1978 Affirmed* 02:26.8
1985 Creme Fraiche 02:27.0
1990 Go And Go 02:27.2
1984 Swale 02:27.2
1968 Stage Door Johnny 02:27.2
Despite the change in training style to speed, only one horse before Secretariat in 1973 owns a top 10 race time. That means that American Thoroughbreds have also, slowly, gotten stronger in the last five decades.
The Belmont stakes has also provided some of the best moments in the history of horse racing.
In 2004 Smarty Jones won the first two races of the Triple Crown and entered the Belmont Stakes with an opportunity to make history. He led down the stretch, only to be overtaken by Birdstone at the wire in arguably the 2nd best Belmont Stakes finish in history:
The best Belmont Stakes finish? That would have to go to Affirmed and Alydar who dueled each other for all three races in the 1978 Triple Crown, but it was Affirmed who reigned supreme in all three. The margin of victory for Affirmed narrowed down in each race, leading to what was the closes, most dramatic finish ever at Belmont Park:
And five years earlier in 1973, Secretariat provided the greatest moment in the history of the Belmont Stakes by obliterating the track record en route to the Triple Crown:
The 1970s produced three Triple Crown winners: Secretariat, Seattle Slew (1977) and Affirmed.