Who would think that the Belmont Stakes actually predates the Kentucky Derby by 8 years and the Preakness Stakes by 6 years?! It was first run in 1867 at what was then called Jerome Park. Click here for a bit of it’s history if you’d like to learn more. Unfortunately this year there is no chance of a Triple Crown winner with the defeat of Nyquist in last Saturday’s Preakness Stakes by Exaggerator. The Belmont Stakes has been a race with many changes over the years – Run at different tracks (all on Long Island though), different theme songs and different drinks!
The current Belmont Stakes is run at Belmont Park in the town of Elmont on Long Island in New York State since 1926. It is known as The Belmont Stakes, the 3rd Leg of the Triple Crown, the Test of Champions and the Run for the White Carnations;
Why the “Belmont Stakes”?
The Belmont Stakes is named after August Belmont Sr., a leading financier and racing enthusiast of the 19th century. His son, August Jr. continued the family tradition and was considered one of the world’s best breeders; champions like Man O’War, Tracery, and Hourless passed through his stables. He was chairman of the Jockey Club for 30 years, founder of Sheepshead Bay and Belmont Park tracks, and head of New York’s first Racing Commission.
Why the”Third Jewel of the American Triple Crown”?
The Belmont is the last of the three races when if won by the same horse, they are hailed as a “Triple Crown Champion” There have only been 12 winners of this test of endurance since 1919 when it was won by Sir Barton and most recently by American Pharoah in 2015! The term “Triple Crown” originated in mid-19th century England and different nations where thoroughbred racing is popular each with their own Triple Crown series.
It is the final and longest (1.5 miles) race of a grueling schedule of three races held over less than 8 weeks, that truly tests these champions. They need a combination of talent, training, and luck to collect all three jewels and be declared a Triple Crown Champion!
Why the “Run for the White Carnation”?
The blanket of white carnations has been traditionally draped over the winner of the Belmont Stakes. It is unclear when this tradition started but Carnations signify love and luck. The blanket is hand-made of over 700 premium white blooms from Colombia and an additional blanket is made to drape over the statue of Secretariat located in Belmont’s backyard!
Tiffany & Co. was commissioned by August Belmont, Jr in 1896 to create a silver cup in memory of his late father August Belmont to commemorate Belmont’s first win of the prestigious race with Fenian. It is a stunning creation made of silver incorporating many symbolic decorations that you can learn about by clicking here! It’s original cost was $1,000 (in this day and age that seems like a steal)! In 1926 Mrs. Eleanor Belmont donated the trophy to the Westchester Racing Association (which eventually became NYRA) to be established as the permanent trophy for the race. The trophy may be kept by the owners of the winning horse for one year and then is handed off to the next winner. The winner also receives a large silver tray with the names of all the previous Belmont Stakes winners engraved on it to keep.
The original Drink for the Belmont Stakes was the White Carnation. In 1998 it was replaced by the Belmont Breeze though I can’t really find out why. Last year it was again changed to The Belmont Jewel! Enjoy whichever you choose, as long as you have it in your Official 2016 Collectors Glass! Click here to order and get a special bonus!
Until 1996 The original song was “The Sidewalks of New York”. It was replaced in 1997 in favor of “New York, New York” made popular by Frank Sinatra. One year in 2010, Jay-Z and Alicia Keys’ performed “Empire State of Mind”. “New York, New York” was back in 2011 and has been the theme song since. Some claimed that changing the official Belmont song “cursed” the Triple Crown leaving a long drought till American Pharoahs’ win in 2015!