The Belmont Stakes

The Belmont Stakes, an annual horse race which takes place in June at New York's Belmont Park, is a prominent and esteemed horse racing event. The Belmont forms the third stage of the renowned Triple Crown horse race, following the Preakness Stakes and Kentucky Derby. From its beginnings in 1867, the Belmont Stakes has experienced many changes but has endured as one of the world's greatest horse racing events.

The Belmont Stakes was named such after the man who first funded the horse race, August Belmont Sr. Jerome Park was the original venue of the Belmont when it was first run in 1867. It was held here up until 1890, after which it was hosted at Morris Park. Races continued taking place at Morris Park until May 1905 when Belmont Park was completed in Elmont, New York. The Belmont Stakes suffered a blow in 1911 and 1912 when New York State instituted anti-betting legislations, canceling all horse racing events. However, the race bounced back after the legislation was removed. Between 1963 and 1967 the Belmont stakes were run at the Aqueduct Racecourse whilst renovations were made at Belmont Park. Since then the race continues to be held at Belmont Park. Interestingly, the first post parade (procession of race horses past the grandstand before the race) for the United states was in 1880 during the 14th Belmont Stakes.

The Belmont Stakes is a 2,4 km or 1,5 mile thoroughbred horse race. Only three-year-old colts, geldings and fillies may enter. Jockey weights are as follows: 57 kg/126 lb for colts and geldings; 55 kg/121 lb for fillies. Up until the year 1921, the Belmont was run in a clockwise direction according to English racing tradition, this was changed to a counter-clockwise direction.

Due to the length of the race and the fact that it is the final leg of the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes has earned the title “Test of the Champion”. Three-year-olds lack the stamina to keep at top speed for such a length, therefore it is vital that the jockeys keep the young horses in the correct positioning and pace for the final dash for the lead. Winning owners of the Belmont Stakes receive a silver bowl with a figure of the famous Fenian atop. Winning horses are adorned with a white carnation blanket, hence the Stakes have also become known as the “Run for the Carnations”. As of 1997, the post parade song for the Belmont Stakes has been the Theme from ‘New York, New York’, the ideal anthem to usher championship thoroughbreds onto the racecourse with.

The Belmont Stakes is a race that defines Triple Crown champions, an event where some of the most momentous races in America’s horse racing history have taken place.

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