20 fun facts about the Belmont Stakes

Birdstone wins the 136th running of the Belmont

Birdstone wins the 136th running of the Belmont Stakes. Smarty Jones places second. (June 5, 2004) (Credit: Newsday, 2004 / John Keating)

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1 The first 23 Belmonts (1867-1889) were run a few miles north of Manhattan at Jerome Park, named for Leonard Jerome, maternal grandfather of Winston Churchill. Among Jerome Park's earliest patrons were future President Ulysses S. Grant and another celebrity with facial hair, P.T. Barnum's Bearded Lady.

2 Morris Park, a few miles east of what is now Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, hosted the Belmont from 1890-1904.

3 Belmont Park opened in 1905. It, too, was named for Manhattan banker August Belmont, a German immigrant and one of the country's richest men.

4 The 1871 running featured the first post parade in the United States. Its first — and best — theme song, "The Sidewalks of New York," would not be written until 1894.

5 The 1882 renewal drew only three horses. A trifecta box would have been a sure thing, but the race didn't offer triple wagering until 1986.

6 James Rowe not only trained a record eight winners, he also was the winning jockey in 1872 and 1873.

7 London native James Keene owned a record-tying six winners from 1879 to 1913. His immortal line: "Anyone who bets on racehorses is a sucker.''

8 Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons is the only trainer with two Triple Crowns — Gallant Fox (1930) and its son Omaha (1935).

9 Col. Edward R. Bradley owned and bred two winners. When told to state his profession at a Senate subcommittee hearing, he replied "Gambler.'' Asked what he gambled on, he said, "Anything.''

10 Newsday founder Harry Guggenheim (1890-1971) owned Cain Hoy Stable, which went 0-for-5 in Long Island's race.

11 The late Jack Kent Cooke, who also owned the NBA's Lakers and the NFL's Redskins, finished 11th in 1993 with his only runner.

12 Former Pirates owner Dan Galbreath finished first twice — - Chateaugay (1963) and Little Current (1974).

13 Jockey Braulio Baeza hit a unique Belmont triple. He won in 1961 at the original Belmont Park; again in 1963 at Aqueduct, when Belmont was being rebuilt; and in 1969 at its latest incarnation.

14 Woody Stephens was 69 when his record streak of five victories began.

15 Julie Krone is the only female jockey to win it, with Colonial Affair in 1993.

16 African-American jockeys who came in first: Ed Brown (1870), Shelby Barnes (1890) and Willie Simms (1893-94).

17 Dianne Carpenter, who died last month, has the best finish by a woman trainer. Kingpost was second in 1988.

18 Smarty Jones, Philadelphia's working-class hero, drew a record crowd of 120,139 in 2004.

19 Better Than Honour was the mother of back-to-back winners Jazil (2006) and the filly Rags to Riches (2007).

20 Edgar Prado is the only active rider with two victories -- Sarava (2002) and Birdstone (2004) — and both canceled Triple Crown bids.

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