Despite what you might think given the 1 1/2 mile distance of the Belmont, more Belmont winners set the pace or stalk rather than coming from well behind. Since 1970, 14 Belmont winners led all or most of the way with 6 of these winning in wire to wire fashion. 9 winners stalked the early going and were no farther back than 4th or 5th at any point, while 9 winners came from well off the pace to win.
Since 1908 the winningest post position is #1 with 22 winners. Next are post positions #3 and #5 tied with 13 winners each, then posts #2 and #7 tied with 11 winner each.
The track and stakes record at Belmont for 1 1/2 miles is 2:24 flat set in 1973 by Secretariat. The fastest in the last 10 years is 2:26 flat for A.P. Indy in 1992 and the slowest is 2:32 for Thunder Gulch in 1995.
The Belmont, first run in 1867, is the oldest of the Triple Crown races and the fourth oldest stakes race in North America. The only ones older are the Phoenix Stakes at Keeneland, the Queen's Plate at Woodbine, and the Travers at Saratoga.
Only two fillies have won the Belmont out of 20 who entered. The winners were:
- Ruthless -- 1867 (the inaugural running)
- Tanya -- 1905
The Belmont has been run at five different distances:
- 1 5/8 miles -- 1867 to 1873
- 1 1/4 miles -- 1890 to 1892, 1895, 1904, and 1905
- 1 1/8 miles -- 1893 and 1894
- 1 3/8 miles -- 1896 to 1903 and 1906 to 1925
- 1 1/2 miles -- all other years
The Belmont was originally run clockwise in accordance with English custom over a fish hook shaped course which included part of the current training track. It was first run counter clockwise in 1921.
The largest Belmont crowd was 103,222 in 2002, which shattered the old record of 85,818 set in 1999.
The leading Belmont winning jockeys are:
- James McLaughlin -- 6 from 1882 to 1888
- Eddie Arcaro -- 6 including two Triple Crown winners
- Earle Sande and Bill Shoemaker -- 5 each
The leading Belmont winning trainers are:
- James Rowe -- 8
- Sam Hildreth -- 7
- Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons -- 6
- Woody Stephens -- 5 consecutive in 1982 to 1986
Lemon Drop Kid winning the 1999 Belmont
- Man O'War (American Flag, Crusader, War Admiral)
- Commando (Peter Pan, Colin)
- Gallant Fox (Omaha, Granville)
- Count Fleet (Counterpoint, One Count)
- Seattle Slew (Swale, A.P. Indy)
- Duke of Magenta (Eric)
- Spendthrift (Hastings)
- Hastings (Masterman)
- The Finn (Zev)
- Sword Dancer (Damascus)
- Secretariat (Risen Star)
- Thunder Gulch (Point Given)
Belmont winners by color:
- Bay -- 52
- Chestnut -- 50
- Brown -- 27
- Gray or Gray/Roan - 3
- Black - 3
In 134 runnings, 54 favorites have won the Belmont. 30 of these were at odds lower than even money and 12 of them have won the Belmont. The lowest priced winner was Count Fleet at $2.10 in 1943 and the highest priced winner was Sarava at $142.50 in 2002, beating out previous longshot record holder Sherluck who paid $132.10 in 1961.
Photos by author