Tue 06/06/2017 - 07:37 EDT

Best Historical Belmont Stakes Races

The Test of Champions' best races

The Belmont Stakes is known as the “Test of Champions” and is the final jewel of horse racing’s Triple Crown has been the site of some of the greatest victories and most heart-breaking defeats in horse racing history. With a rich history spanning 150 years, the mile and a half contest is a true test of a thoroughbred racehorse’s heart, stamina and brilliance.

While there have been many great editions of the Belmont Stakes, some races have been unforgettable.

  1. Secretariat, 1973

No list of memorable Belmont Stakes races would be complete without this race. It remains one of the most iconic moments in horse racing history. Secretariat clinched the Triple Crown in stunning fashion, smashing the track record and winning by 31 lengths – both the record time of 2:24 and the margin of victory still stand today.

The image of jockey Ron Turcotte peering over his shoulder in the middle of the stretch to look for competition that wasn't coming is one of the most widely recognized horse racing photographs in history.


  1. American Pharoah, 2015

Heading into the 2015 edition of the Belmont Stakes, it had been 37 years since horse racing fans had witnessed a Triple Crown sweep. Since Affirmed won in 1978, there had been numerous near misses and crushing defeats.

The brilliant American Pharoah ended that streak and made history at Belmont Park. As he rolled to victory, the structure of the grandstand of Belmont Park literally vibrated with the cheers from the sell-out crowd in what was not only one of the most memorable horse races in history but one of the most memorable sporting events ever.

  1. Lemon Drop Kid, 1999

The 1999 edition of the Belmont Stakes is memorable because of what happened immediately following the race. Heading into the Belmont Stakes, Charismatic was trying to conclude his claimer to champion story by sweeping the Triple Crown for trainer D. Wayne Lukas and jockey Chris Antley. It was not meant to be.

Lemon Drop Kid pulled off the upset but immediately after the wire Antley pulled Charismatic up quickly and jumped off, cradling the big chestnut colt’s leg to prevent further injury. The quick action and compassion by Antley likely saved Charismatic’s life and, after a stallion career in Japan, the 1999 Kentucky Derby winner was retired to Old Friends in Kentucky where he lived out the rest of his life.


  1. Rags to Riches, 2007

In 2007, Rags to Riches joined an elite club when she became only the third filly in history to win the Belmont Stakes. The big chestnut filly, trained by Todd Pletcher, recovered quickly after stumbling at the start of the race to move into stalking position.

At the top of the stretch she locked heads with Curlin, the powerhouse winner of the Preakness Stakes and those two dueled down to the wire in one of the most thrilling finishes of a Belmont Stakes that did not have a Triple Crown on the line.

Coincidentally, Rags to Riches is a half sister to the 2006 Belmont Stakes winner, Jazil.

  1. Birdstone, 2004

There have been numerous tough defeats in the Belmont Stakes with a Triple Crown on the line but none have silenced the crowd quite like Birdstone’s upset in 2004. Smarty Jones looked to be a near lock – the popular colt was undefeated heading into the Belmont Stakes and that flawless record brought comparisons to Seattle Slew.

Whether or not jockey Stewart Elliot moved him too soon is a point that will be fruitlessly debated. At the top of the stretch, Smarty Jones looked home free but was overtaken by longshot Birdstone. As he rolled to victory, the stunned crowd at Belmont Park went silent. 

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