Get ready for one of the biggest events in horse racing history! Justify looks to win the Triple Crown at the Belmont Stakes, so check out all the highlights from this epic race!
With Justify on the verge of becoming the second Triple Crown winner in three years, Elmont, New York has become the center of the sports world on June 9. The 150th Belmont Stakes, aka the “Test of The Champions,” will end in either the ecstasy of victory for the horse and his jockey, Mike Smith, 52. Or, it will end in crushing disappointment, with a horse denying the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner the coveted Triple Crown. Either way, it will be a day full of amazing highlights.
The Belmont Stakes has already seen a Triple Crown winner within this decade, as American Pharoah sealed the deal in 2015. It was one of the biggest highlights of the race’s 150-years. The Belmont Stakes are named after August Belmont I, the first president of the American Jockey Club, according to Newsday. The inaugural winner was a New York-bred filly named Ruthless. It seems appropriate, since the race – which is 1.5 miles – requires horses to be ruthless and not give up a single furlong if they want to end up in the winner’s circle.
To date, only 23 fillies have run the Belmont Stakes, and only three have won: Ruthless, Tanya in 1905 and Rags To Riches in 2007. “It was certainly the most thrilling race I’ve been involved in and the most excited I’ve been watching a race,” Rags to Riches’ trainer Todd Pletcher said to the New York Racing Association, per The Morning Call. “Over the years, people have told me it was one of their most memorable races as well.”
When it comes to the Belmont Stakes, none have owned the race more than Eddie Arcaro. The late rider ran every race there from 1938 to 1960 – save one, when he was suspended in 1943 – and he picked up six victories, matching the record of the late James McLaughlin. Eddie won aboard horses Nashua (1955), One Count (1952), Citation (1948), Pavot (1945) Shut Out (1942) and Whirlaway (1941). Oh, by the way, Citation and Whirlaway were both Triple Crown champions.
The Belmont Stakes are also known for some of its closest finishes. Granville, Jaipur and Victory Gallop all won the race by just a nose. Victory Gallop’s 1998 win was outstanding. Real Quiet came up and pulled away from Victory, but the horse wasn’t going to let it go away without a fight. Victory Gallop lived up to his name, catching up to Real Quiet to take the race at the wire in one of the closest photo finishes ever.