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Belmont Park - Where the Triple Crown Is Won (And Lost)

There are loads of horse racing tracks littered across the United States of America. In order to stand out, a track needs to host significant races and hope to have some unforgettable finishes. That being said, there may not be a single horse racing facility in the USA more prominent than Belmont Park.

Located just east of Queens in the town of Elmont, New York, Belmont Park is the home of some of the greatest memories in all of horse racing. The main reason for that – it’s the home of the Belmont Stakes. However, the third and final leg of the Thoroughbred Triple Crown is not all we are here to talk about.

Our top-notch squad of horse racing specialists wanted you to have a go-to guide for all things Belmont Park-related. Some history about the property? Check. What other races are held there and how does one get to the park? Check.

We even give you some tips and advice on how to prepare for races at Belmont Park from a betting standpoint. As great as detailed information is, it is a lot better if you know where and how to place wagers. Watching the Belmont Stakes in person or on television is exhilarating, no doubt. But the excitement gets turned up a notch when you have some money on the line.

Overview of Belmont Park

Year Opened
Elmont, New York
State of New York, operated by the New York Racing Association (NYRA)
Course Type
Notable Races
Belmont Stakes, Jockey Club Gold Cup, The Metropolitan Handicap, Suburban Handicap
Official Website
Belmont Park Gate

Getting to Know Belmont Park

Belmont Park is not just a place in New York where people go to make bets on which horses will run laps the fastest. Belmont Park is a place that is as rich in history and tradition as any other sporting park or stadium that we can think of.

They call the place “the Big Sandy,” thanks to its enormity and the way the dirt track seems to “sink so many competitors.”

A collection of investors led by August Belmont Jr. are the ones responsible for building the track, which opened back in 1905. It has been the home of the Belmont Stakes ever since, save for 1963-1967 when the property was being upgraded.

Speaking of those upgrades, it was deemed in 1962 that the grandstand used to house spectators was not only outdated, but it was unsafe. More than $30 million was spent on the refurbishment, which included a complete demolition of the structure.

Belmont Park takes great pride in what they have. Unlike Churchill Downs and the Pimlico Race Course (home of the other two Triple Crown events), the authorities at Belmont Park do not permit patrons to hang out in the infield. The inability to access certain areas just adds a layer of mystery and desire for the fans who come out.

If there wasn’t enough buzz surrounding the place already, get ready for a whole new crop of customers come 2020. The NHL’s New York Islanders are in the process of building an 18,000-seat arena in the backyard of Belmont Park – literally.

The site of the new stadium is on the grounds that used to be the parking lot behind the grandstand. This mega-project includes more than 435,000 sq. feet of space to be used for retail, not to mention a hotel with more than 200 rooms. Fittingly, this new establishment will be called Belmont Arena.

With big changes on the horizon for Belmont Park, nothing takes away from the history created on the racetrack, most notably at the Belmont Stakes. Continue reading the sections below to find out more about why so many people love sharing stories about Belmont Park.

Facts About the Racetrack

If the racetrack at Belmont Park seems bigger to you than a typical track, that is because it is. Your eyes are not playing tricks on you. The outside dirt track, also known as the “Main Track,” measures 1.5 miles in circumference. This makes it the longest dirt track anywhere on the entire continent. Belmont Park features an interesting setup that makes its races stand out.

First, you have the “inside track” that is surfaced with turf. This is known as the Widener Turf Course, and at 1 5/16 miles long, it spans longer than many “outside tracks” you will encounter. The Widener Turf Course isn’t the only inner circle track you will notice if you ever make the trip to Elmont, New York.

The Inner Turf Course is strategically positioned inside the two outer tracks and measures 1 3/16 miles. There is even a training track that is 1 mile long that borders the eastern end of the main dirt track.

There Are Three Separate Tracks at Belmont Park

Belmont Park took no shortcuts when designing and planning out their facilities. More than 100,000 fans and spectators can be packed in to witness an event.

The Belmont Stakes

The third and final leg of the Triple Crown Race. We have only seen 12 horses achieve the incredible feat, and they all shared one thing in common. After winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in May, each of the 12 horses entered the Belmont Stakes in June with the world watching and the pressure on.

See, to win the Triple Crown, a horse and his or her jockey must rise to the occasion get it done when it matters most. The Belmont Stakes is the cream of the crop when it comes to horse races. Few events garner as much attention and interest as “The Run for the Carnations.” When you see a horse that has a 40-pound blanket of carnations draped over his or her neck, you know something special happened.

Winning the Belmont Stakes is a big, big deal. If you happen to have won the previous two major races, it’s an even bigger deal. We have witnessed several historical moments in horse racing take place during the Belmont Stakes. In fact, one of the single most impressive achievements in racing came at this very race.

You have to go back to 1973 and remember that Secretariat had already won the Derby and the Preakness. This means he came in with a big burden on his shoulders.

Secretariat – 1973 Belmont Stakes

What is more impressive? Winning the Belmont Stakes by an astounding 31 lengths, setting a record for the fastest time ever at Belmont, or winning the Triple Crown? How about accomplishing ALL THREE of those feats in the same race?

That is exactly what the chestnut-colored stallion from Virginia did at the 1973 Belmont Stakes. Surely, after winning the first two legs the month before, most people in the horse racing community assumed Secretariat would go on and finish the job at Belmont Park.

The folks who were there that day came in expecting to see history made. What they didn’t expect was to watch arguably the most dominating performance ever witnessed on a dirt track. That was the cherry on top. Chances are, we will see another horse win the Triple Crown in the near future. .

You can watch the Belmont Stakes every year for the rest of your life, and there are no scenarios in sight that suggest you will ever see a horse cross the finish line 250 feet ahead of his/her nearest competitor. What Secretariat did at the 1973 Belmont deservingly goes down as one of the most remarkable feats in all of sports.

More About the Belmont Stakes

The Belmont Stakes has been dominated by male horses, although three fillies (females) have come out on top. You have to go all the way back to 1867 and 1905 to find the first two female horses (Ruthless and Tanya) that won the Belmont Stakes.

Finally, in 2007, John Velazquez rode Rags to Riches to victory to end the streak of more than 100 years without a filly winning the race.

Rags to Riches Racing at Belmont Park

Through 2017, we have seen a total of 35 horses enter the Belmont Stakes with a shot at winning the Triple Crown. While 12 of those horses went on to win the race and make history, the other 23 came up short. Of those 23, 8 of them finished second at the Belmont Stakes, coming oh so close.

Eddie Arcaro and Jim McLaughlin share the record for most wins at the Belmont Stakes as a jockey with six. Virginian native James G. Rowe Sr. holds the title of the trainer with the most victories at the Belmont Stakes with eight. The last of those came back in 1913. What is even cooler about Rowe is he was one of two men (George M. Odom) that have won the Belmont Stakes both as a trainer and a jockey!

Additional Events at Belmont Park

While we could continue going on and on about the Belmont Stakes, we wanted to address three other races at Belmont Park that are more than worthy of discussion.

Jockey Club Gold Cup

If you have heard of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge, then the Jockey Club Gold Cup should sound familiar. The 1 1/4-mile race for any horse at least three years old is held at Belmont Park in the fall. Not only does the winning horse gain a spot into the Breeders’ Cup Classic, but the horse gives his/her owner a nice fat check.

The record for the fastest time in this $1 million-purse event is 1:58.89, achieved by Skip Away in 1997. And then there’s that name Eddie Arcaro again. The legendary jockey won the Jockey Club Gold Cup 10 times throughout his illustrious career.

The Metropolitan Handicap

An absolute treat of a horse race to watch. The Metropolitan Handicap got started in 1891. It has been run at Belmont Park ever since 1904, other than a small handful of times during the 1960s and in 1975 when it took place at the Aqueduct. The Grade-I race takes place on the same day in June as the Belmont Stakes, so consider this the warm-up to the big show.

The race known as the “Met Mile” is exactly that – just one mile long. It might be slightly shorter than other Grade-I races, but don’t let that fool you into thinking there is a lack of excitement. Just go back to the 2016 edition of the race.

Jockey Joel Rosario and Frosted put on quite the show. Frosted didn’t just set a record for the fastest time with 1:32.73. He left his competition in the dust, winning by an extraordinary 14 ¼ lengths!

The Suburban Handicap

Every year in early July at Belmont Park, the Suburban Handicap is run. It’s been this way ever since 1915, minus the stretch it was held at the Aqueduct from 1961-1974 and 1976. However, you actually have to go back to 1884 to research the first running of the Suburban Handicap. It had been a Grade-I race all the way up until 2009 when it was lowered to Grade-II status.

The fact of the matter remains that there is still $750,000 up for grabs to the winning owner of the Suburban Handicap. As for the jockey with the most wins, you guessed it – Eddie Arcaro with eight. There have been six horses who have won the race twice, most recently Effinex in 2015 and 2016.

The fastest time ever turned in during this 1 ¼-mile race is 1:58.33 by In Excess in 1991. Three 7-year-old horses have won this race, an uncommon thing to happen in a race consisting of mostly 4- and 5-year-old horses.

Do You Want to Visit Belmont Park?

After reading the sections above, you are probably itching to start making plans to go watch the Belmont Stakes live and in person. The good news is that Belmont Park isn’t hidden in a secluded area that is difficult to find.

John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, New York, is hardly more than a stone’s throw away from Belmont Park. Only seven miles, to be exact. Thanks to the public transportation in New York, not to mention taxis and Ubers, getting to Belmont Park shouldn’t be an issue. Everyone should try and visit the state of New York at least once, so why not include a trip to perhaps the most historic horse track in all of the land?

In recent years, many improvements have been made to help men and women get to the property. More than $5 million in enhancements went into making the railway stations more accessible and refining the area of the facility where spectators come and go.

Before 2015, it was a complete zoo trying to get in or get out during the Belmont Stakes.

We aren’t saying it isn’t still crowded now, but at least there is a better sense of organization. At least it is no longer as hectic as getting into Disneyland on a Saturday during spring break. Should you be lucky enough to pay Belmont Park a visit, you won’t be disappointed.

Betting Information – Belmont Park

Don’t worry; we didn’t leave you hanging without including some valuable information on betting at Belmont Park. After all, who wants to make it all the way to Belmont Park for a race and not put some money on the line?

Whether you are one of the fortunate individuals who get to see the Belmont Stakes up close and personal or you have to stream it online or watch it on television like the rest of us, betting on horses is absolutely an option.

If you are betting online, you want to make sure you are staying active on the top sites and shopping for the best lines. We can help you with that. Check out our recommendations for some reputable places to bet on the following page.


If you are heading to Elmont and are going to check out a race live, here is what you should know.

Belmont Park is owned by the New York Racing Association (NYRA). Allowing people to bet on races is at the forefront of their entire operation. This is evidenced by the plethora of betting windows scattered throughout the park. You will even find an abundance of self-serving kiosks that don’t even require another individual to take your bet.

All you need is an account with the NYRA, and you are good to go. Those accounts can be set up online, by phone, by mail, or in person. For more , check out this page to find out everything you need to know.

The Takeaway

Belmont Park is a big place with a heck of a lot of history. We felt that as the home of the Belmont Stakes, it was more than necessary to create a guide telling our readers everything they could possibly want to know about the track that hosts the race. The final opportunity of the season for horses, jockeys, trainers, and owners to win a Triple Crown race comes at Belmont Park.

While the Belmont Stakes is the most significant race at Belmont Park, it certainly isn’t the only race that takes place there. We spoke about three other races held annually on site, giving you some tidbits on what makes those races important.

We wanted you to be well aware of the details about the racetrack and the facilities. Simply saying Belmont Park is a big track with a lot of great memories is just too vague. Now you know the measurements of the track, and you unquestionably know what Secretariat did on the dirt oval back in 1973.

While describing the ins and outs of Belmont Park was our main objective, we of course had to explain to you how to get there and how to place your bets once you do. If you thought watching the race was fun, wait until you have some money riding on one of the horses!

Horse racing is a sport that is centered around the biggest events at the most well-known courses. Well, ladies and gentlemen, racetracks don’t get much more acclaimed than Belmont Park.

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