Belmont Park is one of America’s finest horse racing tracks, home to a good selection of top-class races. Whether you’re a fully paid-up horse racing fanatic, or just have a passing interest when it rolls around to Kentucky Derby time, the history of Belmont Park is undoubtedly fascinating. We’ve gathered all of the information on this historic course, including how it came into being, the famous performances that have taken place at the track, and some of the races that are soon to play out.
History of Belmont Park
Belmont Park opened on the 4th of May, 1905, meaning it’s one of the few racecourses in America that have been open for more than a century. You’ll find Belmont Park on the outer reaches of New York City, in Elmont. It is operated nowadays by the New York Racing Association and has been since 1955 when several associations were merged to form one larger power.
Belmont is well known for its long track length of one and a half miles, as well as the depth of the all-weather surface. This unique depth can be testing for horses and has earned Belmont Park the nickname ‘The Big Sandy’. The testing qualities of this track mean that it is not one for the faint-hearted, in fact, it seems to favour big winners. Some people call the track ‘The Championship Track’ owing to the fact that almost every single horse that’s become a major champion has competed at Belmont Park. If you want to watch the action at Belmont then you’ll find all of the best races in either the Spring Meet which runs from April through July or the Fall Meet, which runs from September through to the end of October. The Belmont Stakes is its most well-known race and the one that we’re going to find out about now.
The Belmont Stakes is certainly the most famous of all of Belmont Park’s races. This year it was won by Mo Donegal and for only the second time was run over a distance of one and a half miles, rather than one mile and an eighth as it has been in previous years. The Belmont Stakes is also known as ‘The Test of the Champion’ as it is the third and final leg of the Triple Crown. There have been very few horses to win the Triple Crown and in 2004, Belmont saw its largest crowd ever of more than 120,000 people, who all turned up to watch Birdstone make his bid for the title. Sadly, for Birdstone, he was beaten to the post by Smarty Jones, meaning it’s been seven years since American Pharoah won the title back in 2015.
Following on from the Belmont Stakes which took place on the 11th of June, the next big race at Belmont Park is set to be the Belmont Oaks. This race takes place over a distance of a mile and a quarter and is open only to three-year-old fillies. Last year the winner was Santa Barbara who was a record holder not just for her brilliant performance, but also for being one of the very few Irish-bred fillies to win the race. This year the chances are looking slimmer for Irish-bred horses, but if you do fancy having a bet then it’s possible to find all of the information you could need on SBO. This site offers not just advice on which betting sites to use, but also free tips and free bets, to help make sure you’re well informed and find the best value possible.
The final major race in Belmont’s Spring Meet will be the Belmont Derby, which was previously known as the Jamaica Handicap. The race was so named after the Jamaica District in nearby Queens. During its history, the Belmont Derby was moved from the Fall Meet to the Spring Meet and recently the purse increased from an already generous $500,000 to $125,000, making it one of the richest held at the course. This race too is only open to three-year-olds and has a Group 1 status.
The most recent notable record holder was Athena, an Irish-bred horse, trained by the great Aidan O’Brien. Athena shot to stardom when she won the Belmont Oaks in 2018 with a time of 1:58.71, as the Racing Post has covered here. Although this isn’t the shortest time the race has been run over the whole course of its history, over the current distance this was by far the fastest and an incredible achievement for Athena and the team behind her.
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