Fourteen miles east of New York City, the bustle of the Big Apple dissolves to a verdant, laid-back setting that shapes the beauty and splendor of the Belmont Park race track. It is here where the region's wealthy horse owners, avid gamblers, and leisure pursuers are brought together to experience some of the biggest events in North American horse racing, including the prestigious Belmont Stakes.
Belmont Park is known as "The Championship Track" as many Thoroughbred champions, such as Secretariat and Man o’ War, have had their fair share of glory at the track. Adding more than a century's grandeur to American horse racing, the Belmont racetrack is also recognized as one of the most supreme racetracks in the country today, together with the Saratoga, Keeneland, Churchill Downs, Del Mar and Santa Anita racecourses.
Belmont Park Track Layout
Belmont's main track (known as "Big Sandy among fans) comprises a 1 1⁄2 miles dirt oval, making it the longest dirt Thoroughbred track in North America. The distance from the beginning of the homestretch to the finish line measures 1,097 feet. The section covering the wire and the start of the first turn extends 843 feet.
The main track encloses a Widener Turf Course that measures a distance of 1 5/6 miles and 27 feet, and is used for races of 1 mile and 1 1⁄16 miles. The Widener Turf, in turn, surrounds an Inner Turf Course with a circumference of 1 3⁄16 miles and 103 feet, used for races of 1 1/16.
Upcoming Races at Belmont Park
|October 3||Hill Prince||$500,000||3YO||1 1/8 (Turf)|
|October 3||Flower Bowl Invitational||$600,000||F&M 3&UP||1 1/4 (Turf)|
|October 3||Champagne||$500,000||2YO||1 Mile (Dirt)|
|October 3||Kelso Handicap||$400,000||3&UP||1 Mile (Dirt)|
|October 3||Jockey Club Gold Cup Invitational||$1,000,000||3&UP||1 1/4 (Dirt)|
|October 3||Frizette||$400,000||F2YO||1 Mile (Dirt)|
|October 10||Knickerbocker||$200,000||3&UP||1 1/8 (Turf)|
|October 12||Pebbles||$200,000||F3YO||1 Mile (Turf)|
|October 17||Futurity||$200,000||2YO||6 Furlongs (Dirt|
|October 17||Athenia||$200,000||F&M 3&UP||1 1/16 (Turf)|
|October 18||Matron||$200,000||F2YO||6 Furlongs (Dirt)|
|October 24||Ticonderoga (NYB)||$200,000||F&M 3&UP||1 1/16 (Turf)|
|October 24||Empire Classic (NYB||$300,000||3&UP||1 1/8 (Dirt)|
|October 24||Hudson (NYB)||$150,000||3&UP||6 1/2 Furlongs (Dirt)|
|October 24||Iroquois (NYB)||$150,000||F&M 3&UP||6 1/2 Furlongs (Dirt)|
|October 24||Mohawk (NYB)||$200,000||3&UP||1 1/16 (Turf)|
|October 24||Empire Distaff (NYB)||$250,000||F&M 3&UP||1 1/16 (Dirt)|
|October 24||Sleepy Hollow (NYB)||$250,000||2YO||1 Mile (Dirt)|
|October 24||Maid of the Mist (NYB)||$250,000||F2YO||1 Mile (Dirt|
|October 25||English Channel||$100,000||3YO||1 Mile (Turf)|
|October 30||Awad||$100,000||2YO||1 Mile (Turf)|
|October 30||Turnback the Alarm||$200,000||F&M 3&UP||1 1/16 (Dirt)|
|October 31||Bold Ruler||$200,000||3&UP||7 Furlongs (Dirt)|
|October 31||Chelsey Flower||$100,000||F2YO||1 Mile (Turf)|
|Nov 1||Pumpkin Pie||$100,000||F&M 3&UP||6 Furlongs (Dirt)|
In 1902, August Belmont II and former Secretary of the Navy William C. Whitney, began looking for land that would serve as home to the most extravagant racecourse in America; a track whose character would be influenced by the conventions of Europe's greatest race courses. Foster's Meadow, a 650 acres estate on the border of Queens County and Nassau County, eventually became the site of the original Belmont race track, Turf and Field Club.
When the track held its first race meet on May 4, 1905, more than 40,000 supporters tried to get to Belmont Park before the first post, leading to the first traffic jam on Long Island.
When Belmont Park opened in 1905, it also became the new home of the Belmont Stakes (previously held at the Jerome Park Racetrack in the Bronx). The inaugural race at the track was won by Tanya, whose victory set a record as the second filly to cross the finish line first at the Belmont Stakes.
Belmont Park adopted a racing style in the English tradition for more than a decade after its inception. The track featured clockwise racing in order to provide the elite members of the racing association and their guests with a close-up view of the race finish in front of the clubhouse.
The Belmont Stakes
Five weeks after the Kentucky Derby, the attention of the horse racing community shifts to Belmont Park for the third and final leg of the Triple Crown – the annual Belmont Stakes!.
Despite enjoying success from the start, the Belmont racetrack faced uncertain times in its early years. The wave of anti-gambling laws that hit the United States at the time resulted in a two year closure of the track. When Belmont Park reopened in 1913, the track underwent many significant renovations in the years that followed. After a devastating fire at the track in 1917, the original building was entirely reconstructed and opened again in 1920. The last race at the old Belmont Park took place in 1962, after which the track was closed yet again from 1963 to 1968 due to structural defects. The structure was demolished to make way for a new $30.7 million grandstand which still stands today.
The 2004 Belmont Stakes attracted a record crowd of 120,139, who all came out to see Smarty Jones attempt to conquer the Triple Crown but was instead defeated by Birdstone.