The Belmont Stakes

The final and most demanding leg of the Triple Crown is the Belmont Stakes. This race is held in June three weeks after the Preakness. Held in Elmont, New York, the Belmont Stakes were first run in 1867, making the race the oldest of the Triple Crown races. The race is 1 ½ miles long (12 furlongs), two furlongs longer than the Kentucky Derby.

The race has evolved quite a bit since its inception. Between 1867 and 1873, the race was a mile and five furlongs (13 furlongs total), and for many years after, the race fluctuated in distance. It wasn’t until 1926 that the current distance was agreed upon by racing officials.

The Belmont Stakes is the fourth most highly attended racing event in the U.S. The Kentucky Derby, The Preakness, and the Kentucky Oaks are the only races that attract more fans. As far as prize money goes, the Belmont Stake’s most current purse was about $1 million.

The prior two legs of the Triple Crown are not the only races steeped in tradition. Known as the “Run for the Carnations,” Belmont winners are draped in a blanket of white carnations. The song sung before the race has changed a few times over the years, the original song was “Sidewalks of New York,” which was sung up until 1996, when it was replaced by “New York, New York.”

It probably isn’t a surprise to learn that Secretariat set the current record for time with a 2:24.00 when he ran the race in 1973. He also holds the record for largest margin of victory with 31 lengths.