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The 152nd running of the $1,000,000 Belmont Stakes (Grade I), will be the opening leg of the Triple Crown for the first time in history and is set for Saturday, June 20, 2020 at historic Belmont Park in Elmont, New York.
The first Belmont in the United States was not the famous stakes race or even the man for whom it is named. Rather, the first Belmont was a race horse that arrived in California in 1853 from his breeding grounds of Franklin, Ohio. The Belmont Stakes, however, are named after August Belmont, a financier who made quite a name and fortune for himself in New York politics and society. Obviously, Mr. Belmont was also quite involved in horse racing, and his imprint is even intertwined within the history of the Kentucky Derby.
The oldest of America's three Triple Crown races, the Belmont Stakes was first run on June 19, 1867, at the Jerome Park race course, an oddly shaped, English-style track that required its runners to negotiate three turns instead of two because of a dip in the middle of the backstretch. A filly, Ruthless, won the first Belmont's $1,850 winners purse, outlasting DeCourcey by a head. The race has been run every since, with the exception of 1911 and 1912, and the Belmont has established itself as the ultimate test of championship stamina in this country. Its 1-1/2-mile distance now has become a rarity in American dirt races.
The Belmont was even longer in its early days, contested at 1-5/8 miles through 1873. But from 1890 through 1926, the race dropped down to distances varying between 1-1/8 and 1-3/8 miles. The 1926 Belmont was run at 1-1/2 miles and was won by Crusader, a son of the legendary Man o' War, in a time of 2:32-1/5. The race has been run at that distance ever since.
Because of its distance and status as the race that can make or break a Triple Crown champion, the Belmont Stakes has been the venue for some of the most famous moments in American racing. There was Count Fleet destroying two nondescript rivals by 25 lengths in the 1943 renewal; Secretariat one-upping his fellow Triple Crown victor 30 years later, winning by 31 lengths in record time; and there was Affirmed and Alydar, slugging away at each other for nearly a mile before Affirmed prevailed to become a Triple Crown winner in 1978.
In 2015, American Pharoah joined the elite ranks as a Triple Crown Winner, as well as Justify in 2018!
Use the links below to learn more about the third leg of the `Triple Crown of Horse Racing'
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