The excitement is building, as the third and final Triple Crown race of the season is nearly here. The Belmont Stakes is always one of the races that stands out throughout the season, as it will give fans the first opportunity to see the younger horses over a distance of 1 ½ miles.
Throughout history, we have been treated to some outstanding victories in the Belmont Stakes, but which performances have stood the test of time?
If you have ever learned how to read a horse racing program you probably have seen the name Secretariat as basically the record setter to beat. Many have tried but all have failed.
Few performances were as staggering as Secretariat’s dominance in the Belmont Stakes in 1973. The three-year-old was the clear favorite in the betting to win the race after claiming success in both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in record times. His record in the Kentucky Derby remains to this day, as does the time that he set in the Belmont Stakes.
Secretariat was sent off at Belmont Park as the 1/10 favorite in the betting, and he dazzled in front of record crowds both on track, and watching from home. The time that he set of 2:24 was not only the Belmont Stakes record, but also the quickest time that any horse had ever completed over 1 ½ miles. As well as that, his dominance was clear for all to see, as he finished an astonishing 31 lengths clear of the field.
From one Triple Crown winner to a horse that really should have been one. It was a close call for Afleet Alex, but even jockey Jeremy Rose laments this horse as one that got away when it comes to a Triple Crown. Afleet Alex could only finish third in the Kentucky Derby, but then went on to win commandingly in both the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes.
His final quarter was a staggering performance, as he clocked a time of :24 2/5. For such a dominant performance, there was a strange reaction in the winners’ enclosure, as connections were left with bittersweet emotions thinking about what could have been.
Perhaps Victory Gallop’s victory wasn’t one of the best performances in the Belmont Stakes, but the Canadian-bred horse certainly played his part in one of the most exciting renewals of the race that we have ever seen. Real Quiet was the leading contender to claim success in the Belmont Stakes that year, as the Bob Baffert-trained horse was looking to win the Triple Crown. However, despite running a storming race, he was denied by the outsider on the line. The W. Elliott Walden-trained horse eventually got the decision as he won the famous race by a nose at odds of 5/1.
It was a story of revenge for Victory Gallop, as he finished second to Real Quiet in both the Derby and Preakness, and that made the tussle between the two for the line in the Belmont Stakes one of the best head-to-head battles in the history of the race.
Rags To Riches
One of the wins that really stands out above the rest was the success of Rags to Riches in 2007. The Todd Pletcher-trained horse became the third filly winner of the Belmont Stakes, as she got the better of the boys at Belmont Park. It was also a significant winner for Pletcher, as it finally gave him a first win in a Triple Crown race.
The horse’s ability was clear for all to see, as she dominated the field in the Kentucky Oaks, but taking on the boys would create a big challenge. She didn’t get off to the best start, as she stumbled in the opening exchanges. But, she battled back excellently, and eventually took the lead from Curlin to take the win by a head. The two finished over five lengths clear of the remainder of the field.