Belmont Park Best Races
Belmont Park plays host to some of the most important races on the annual calendar. Belmont Park’s best races include the Belmont Stakes (G1), the Metropolitan Handicap (G1), the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1), the Acorn Stakes (G1), the Belmont Derby (G1), and the Belmont Oaks (G1) amongst others.
The Belmont Stakes is a 1 1/2 mile race for three-year-olds and the final leg of the American Triple Crown. Justify is the most recent Triple Crown winner, having accomplished that feat in 2018. American Pharoah did it before him in 2015, and prior to that Affirmed was the last Triple Crown winner in 1978. The Belmont Stakes is considered the Test of the Champion because few horses will ever need to run that 1 1/2 mile distance again.
The Jockey Club Gold Cup is a 1 1/4 mile race for older horses prepping for the Breeders’ Cup Classic. The great Kelso won the race five times from 1960 to 1964. It has been won by Curlin, Skip Away, Cigar, John Henry, and Affirmed. Before the Breeders’ Cup was created, the Jockey Club Gold Cup was the year-end championship for horses on the East Coast.
The Metropolitan Handicap – better known as the Met Mile – is one of the most famous races in New York. It is a one-turn mile where the best sprinters try to stretch out, and the best routers drop back in distance. When Frosted won the race in 2016 by over 14 lengths it was the biggest margin of victory and fastest time ever. Mitole won the race in 2019 on his way to earning an Eclipse Award. Honor Code, Preakness Stakes winner Shackleford, Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Ghostzapper, and Hall of Fame runner Holy Bull all won the race in the last three decades.
The Acorn Stakes is a one-mile race for three-year-old fillies at Belmont Park with a long history. It was first run in 1931, but it was just in 2020 that Gamine set the speed record of 1:32.55 and won by 19 lengths. Champions Monomoy Girl, Abel Tasman, and Round Pond have all won it.
Belmont Park Breeders’ Cups
Belmont Park has hosted the Breeders’ Cup four times: 1990, 1995, 2001, and 2005.
The 1995 Breeders’ Cup was special because the Classic showed the culmination of a perfect season by Cigar, who went on to be Horse of the Year and was enshrined in the Hall of Fame. It also had longshot mare Desert Stormer win the Breeders’ Cup Sprint over males in the slop. Unbridled’s Song won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and became one of the sport’s best stallions.
The 2001 Breeders’ Cup came just weeks after the September 11th attacks in New York. The emotional day was capped by American racehorse Tiznow defending his title to become the first two-time winner of the Breeders’ Cup Classic after a heart-pounding stretch duel.
The 2005 Breeders’ Cup saw Saint Liam win the Classic. Intercontinental won the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf, and the German-trained Shirocco won the Turf. The Breeders’ Cup has not returned to Belmont Park since.