Belmont Stakes History

BELMONT, NY - JUNE 8: A parachuter flies in the flag for the 134th Belmont Stakes at Belmont Race Park on June 8, 2002 in Elmont, New York. (Photo By Jamie Squire/Getty Images)The Belmont Stakes is named after August Belmont, a banker and avid racing fan who served as president of the Jockey Club in 1867 – the year in which Belmont Stakes history began.

The first Belmont Stakes, won by Ruthless with jockey Gilbert Patrick and trainer AJ Minor, was raced at Jerome Park Racetrack in the Bronx, New York. This race was run over 1? miles – a distance kept for the Belmont Stakes up to 1874, when it was changed to 1½ miles.

Jerome Park, which was financed by August Belmont, continued to host the race up to 1889. In 1869, August Belmont himself won both first and second positions in the Belmont Stakes with his thoroughbreds, Fenian and Glenelg. The first ever post parade in the United States was held at the 14th running of the Belmont Stakes, in 1880.

From 1890 to 1904, the Belmont Stakes was run at Morris Park.

Since 1905, Belmont Park has remained the home of the Belmont Stakes, with only a few exceptions. In both 1911 and 1912, horse racing was outlawed in New York State and the races were cancelled. From 1963 to 1967, Belmont Park underwent reconstruction, and the races were held at the Aqueduct Racetrack, in Queens.

The early Belmont Stakes races were run in the clockwise direction, in the tradition of English racing. In 1921, however, the US counter-clockwise direction was adopted.

Since 1926, a silver bowl, created by Louis Comfort Tiffany and donated by the Belmont family, has been given to the owner of the Belmont Stakes winner. The bowl is adorned with an image of Fenian, the Belmont-owned thoroughbred who won the race in 1869, above images of the three foundation sires of all thoroughbreds – the Byerly Turk, the Darley Arabian and the Godolphin Barb.

The most memorable moment in Belmont Stakes history came in 1973, when Secretariat shattered the world record time for 1½ miles, winning the race by a phenomenal 31 lengths and, in the process, becoming the ninth ever Triple Crown winner. The record set by Secretariat for the Belmont Stakes – at 2:24 flat – still stands.

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