This week’s Belmont Stakes will mark the 155th running of the 1 1/2-mile Test of the Champion, the 50th anniversary of Secretariat’s record-setting win and the fifth year without a 14th Triple Crown winner.
Still the expected 10-horse field has plenty of interesting story lines for both the casual and hard-core thoroughbred fan.
Post time on Saturday is 6:50 p.m.
Here are some things to watch:
JUST THE FACTS
What: 155th Belmont Stakes, first run in 1867, oldest of the Triple Crown events.
When: Saturday, June 10, 6:50 p.m. post time.
Where: Belmont Park.
Distance: 1½ miles.
The draw: Tuesday, 11 a.m.
Triple Crown?: Not this year. Mage won the Kentucky Derby, but is not running in the Belmont. Preakness Stakes winner National Treasure is scheduled to run.
Last year: Mo Donegal won with jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. aboard.
A BIT OF HISTORY
*The filly Ruthless won the first Belmont Stakes, one of only three fillies to win the race.
*The first post parade in the United States was held prior to the 1871 Belmont Stakes.
*The first Belmont to run in a counter-clockwise direction was in 1921.
*The Belmont was run at 1 5/8 miles until 1927, when it was set at the current 1½-mile distance.
*1920 winner Man o’ War did not claim the Triple Crown because owner Sam Riddle did not enter him in the Kentucky Derby. Man o’ War won 20 of 21 career starts, including all seven of his races at Belmont Park.
*Secretariat won the 1973 Belmont by 31 lengths in a record time of 2 minutes, 24 seconds. Coming into the final turn, track announcer Chick Anderson said: “Secretariat is widening now. He is moving like a tremendous machine.”
*In 1991, Julie Krone became the first woman to compete in the Belmont Stakes, riding Subordinated Debt to ninth place. In the Belmont two years later, Krone became the first woman to win a Triple Crown race, guiding Colonial Affair to the wire by 2¼ lengths.
*James Rowe is the winningest trainer (eight). The leading active trainers by Belmont Stakes victories are D. Wayne Lukas and Todd Pletcher (four each).
*The Belmont’s winning horse is draped in a blanket of 300-400 white carnations that takes about 10 hours to put together.
SOURCES: belmontstakes.com; Newsday research
Two out of three?
Bob Baffert-trained Preakness winner National Treasure is bidding to become the 19th horse to win the Triple Crown’s traditional last two legs and the first since Afleet Alex in 2005. He did not qualify for the Kentucky Derby on May 6 but then held off Blazing Sevens at Pimlico on May 20 with Derby-winner Mage placing third. Neither Mage nor Blazing Sevens will run at Belmont.
Baffert, the Hall of Fame trainer, is once again eligible to run horses in New York after his statewide one-year suspension for repeated medication violations ended Jan. 25. He was still ineligible to have a horse at this year’s Kentucky Derby under a separate ban but National Treasure’s Preakness win extended Baffert’s record to 17 victories in Triple Crown races, including eight in the Preakness. He’s won the Belmont three times, including capping Triple Crowns with American Pharoah in 2015 and Justify in 2018. But National Treasure marks Baffert’s first entry in the Belmont Stakes since 2018.
Todd Pletcher-trained Forte was the Kentucky Derby’s morning-line favorite before being scratched on race day because of a bruise on his right front hoof. So the Belmont Stakes will mark his first race since a two-length win over Mage in the Florida Derby on April 1. Forte was voted first in the latest National Thoroughbred Racing Association poll for 3-year-olds with Mage second and National Treasure third. It would not be uncommon for Forte to win at Belmont in his Triple Crown debut as 10 horses have done that since 1990, Sir Winston, in 2019, being the last.
Trainer Brad Cox is expected to have three horses at Belmont: Angel of Empire, who finished third at the Kentucky Derby, Hit Show, the Kentucky Derby’s fifth-place finisher, and Tapit Shoes, who is making his Triple Crown debut.
“They’re all training really well,” Cox said Thursday on an NTRA conference call. “Tapit Shoes was second in the Bath House Row Stakes [at Oaklawn on April 22] last out and we decided this would be a good opportunity in the Belmont.”
Forte is one of two Pletcher-trained horses expected to run at Belmont, including Tapit Trice, who finished seventh at the Kentucky Derby. Pletcher earned his fourth Belmont Stakes win last year with Mo Donegal, tying him with D. Wayne Lukas for the most among active trainers.
Secretariat became the ninth Triple Crown winner — and the first in 25 years — when he won the 105th Belmont Stakes on June 9, 1973, in legendary fashion. Ron Turcotte rode Secretariat to a record 31-length victory in the five-horse field in 2:24, an American mark for the mile and a half on dirt. Secretariat’s legacy will be honored as the 50th anniversary of his astonishing win is celebrated.
Jena Antonucci-trained Arcangelo won the Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont in his stakes debut on May 13 in the final local prep for the Belmont Stakes.
“We’ve thought he was pretty special for some time,” Antonucci said on the NTRA conference call. “Just letting him develop into that.”
Jockey Javier Castellano will look to complete his personal Triple Crown aboard Arcangelo after winning his first Kentucky Derby with Mage.