My 5 things you didn’t know about the Belmont Stakes have to do, in part, with its original venue. Horses that want to go down in racing history forever “immortalized” need to win here if they’ve won The Kentucky Derby and Preakness. Another of my 5 things you didn’t know about the Belmont Stakes involves the Triple Crown race’s namesake. The history surrounding this sports spectacle gives off quite a “show.”
5 Things You Didn’t Know About the Belmont Stakes Number 1: Contestants Once Had to Race More than 1 ½ Miles
The rigorous 1.5 mile race that’s been run at this distance since 1926 wasn’t always this way. According to the New York Racing Association, the horserace was first run in 1867 at a distance of 1 5/8 miles which lasted until 1873. The shortest distance was just 1 1/8 miles, which occurred from 1893-1894. Note that a furlong (via the source) is 1/8 of a mile.
5 Things You Didn’t Know About the Belmont Stakes Number 2: The Race’s Namesake Was a Man of Finance and Politics
The race is named after August Belmont, who was a German immigrant that made his name in the world of finance and politics for causes that “the odds were against”, so to speak. Because of the Panic of 1837, he was dispatched to America to help preserve the wealth of the Rothschilds, helping Belmont became very rich as a result of his efforts. Before, during and after the Civil War, the man was a mover and shaker in Democratic politics, and even “put his bets on” the other Illinois candidate, Stephen Douglas in 1860, who challenged Abraham Lincoln for the Presidency, according to Mr. Lincoln and New York.
5 Things You Didn’t Know About the Belmont Stakes Number 3: The First Winner Was a Filly
Ruthless was the first winner of the Belmont Stakes, according to Wikipedia. The filly ran the 1 5/8 miles in 3:05 and got $1,850. The horse finished first in her career seven times and second four times, winning a grand total of $11,000. Compare that to the 2009 winner Summer Bird, who ran the 1 ½ mile course in 2:27:54 and won $600,000, according to Wikipedia.
5 Things You Didn’t Know About the Belmont Stakes Number 4: Only One Woman, To Date, Has Ridden in this Triple Crown Race
According to the New York Racing Association, only one woman has ever ridden in this prestigious race. And she can call herself a winner on her third try. This female jockey is Julie Krone, who won in 1993 as she took the race with Colonial Affair, one of her 3,704 career wins on racehorses. Krone raced four other times in the 1990’s in this contest with her next highest finish being a “Place” on Star Standard two years after her victory.
5 Things You Didn’t Know About the Belmont Stakes Number 5: The Original Venue Took a “Place” to New York City‘s Water Needs
This noteworthy event was originally run in the Bronx at Jerome Park beginning in 1867, according to New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. But because New York City needed more water, the land that the racetrack was on was condemned in 1890 so it could be used for a reservoir, even though much of this land is now greenery for people to enjoy today.
Sources for this article about 5 things you didn’t know about the Belmont Stakes:
Belmont Stakes – History: http://www.belmontstakes.com/history/default.aspx, New York Racing Association
Mr. Lincoln and New York: http://www.mrlincolnandnewyork.org/inside.asp?ID=70&subjectID=3, The Lincoln Institute
Ruthless (horse): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruthless_(horse), Wikipedia
2009 Belmont Stakes: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2009_Belmont_Stakes, Wikipedia
Women Jockeys in the Belmont: http://www.belmontstakes.com/history/womenjockeys.aspx, The New York Racing Association
http://www.nycgovparks.org/sub_your_park/historical_signs/hs_historical_sign.php?id=11042, New York City Department of Parks & Recreation