Belmont Stakes Facts and Run Down of Who’s Who

by Margaret Ransom



With the fiasco known as the 2019 Kentucky Derby in the far off distance in just about every racing fan’s rear-view mirror, and the dust now settling on the nearly incident-free Preakness Stakes three weeks ago (Bodexpress’ gate fiasco aside), all eyes now turn to the 151st Belmont Stakes, which has been set for Saturday and will go as the day’s 11th with a post time of 6:37 p.m. ET. Once again, the Belmont Stakes carries a purse of $1.5 million.
The weather in New York has been warm and beautiful and Saturday is expected to be no different, with the high reaching to about 80 under partly cloudy skies. In addition to the Belmont, eight graded stakes will be on tap, including the highly competitive Met Mile and six other grade 1s. Belmont has assembled a tremendous day for everyone – the horsemen, the fans and the bettors.

Of the ten 3-year-olds set to race the grueling 1½ miles of the Belmont Stakes, War of Will remains the only runner to have started in all three legs of the Triple Crown. Four others skipped the Preakness, two others ran only in the Preakness and three haven’t made an appearance in any of the three jewels yet.

The great Hall of Famer Secretariat still holds the mark for the fastest Belmont when he stopped the clock in 2:24 in 1973, and he also owns the margin of victory record of 31 lengths. Two jockeys, Jim McLaughlin and the legendary Eddie Arcaro, hold the record for most winning rides with six, and trainer James Rowe Sr. saddled six winners, the most recent being way back in 1931. He also rode two Belmont winners himself in 1872 and 1873.

The winning Belmont Stakes trophy is named the August Belmont Memorial Cup. It is a large dish made of silver and was created by Tiffany & Co. The cover of the dish is a figure of Fenian, who won the Belmont Stakes in 1969, and the bowl is supported by silver likenesses of Herod, Eclipse and Matchem, who are the primary descendants of the three foundation sires of the Thoroughbred — The Darley Arabian, Godolphin Barb and Byerly Turk.

The trophy was first presented to the winner of the Belmont Stakes in 1926 by the Belmont family. It was the trophy August Belmont received when Fenian won the third running and it had remained with the Belmont family until then. The winning owner may choose to keep the trophy for a year until the next Belmont winner is crowned if he or she so chooses.

The winning owner, trainer and jockey also receive a silver miniature replica of the August Belmont Memorial Cup.

The white carnation is the traditional flower of the Belmont Stakes and a blanket of carnations is draped over the Belmont Stakes winner for the winner’s circle presentation. The blanket itself takes five hours to make and more than 700 flowers shipped in to New York from Columbia on the day of the race. A smaller version is created for the statue of Secretariat located in the paddock.

Following are some statistics for each runner, in post position order from the rail out:

  1. Joevia – 30/1

This son of Shanghai Bobby skipped the Triple Crown all together and uses a win in the Long Branch Stakes as a springboard to here. There certainly are some distance questions as his young sire hasn’t been represented by a lot of extended route winners yet, but Joevia has some stamina on the bottom as he’s out of a War Front mare.

  • first Belmont Stakes starter for owners Michael and Jeff Fazio
  • first Belmont Stakes starter for trainer Greg Sacco
  • fifth Belmont Stakes starter for jockey Jose Lezcano; best finish on Street Life (4th) in 2012
  1. Everfast – 12/1

Nearly everyone was surprised when this Calumet Farm-owned colt crossed the Preakness Stakes finish line in second, 1 ¼ lengths behind the winner. Everyone, that is, except his confident trainer. This son of Take Charge Indy is bred for the distance and put in enough of an effort last time to earn a chance at wearing the carnations. He just has a bad habit of running well, building confidence and then throwing in a clunker. Hopefully for his connections he can string two good efforts together for this race.

  • fourth Belmont Stakes starter for owner Brad Kelley’s Calumet Farm; Oxbow was 2nd in 2013
  • 11th Belmont Stakes starter for trainer Dale Romans; best finish were Nolan’s Cat and First Dude in 2010 and 2013 (both 3rd)
  • fourth Belmont Stakes mount for Luis Saez; best finish on Brody’s Cause (2010) and Bravazo (2018) (both 3rd)
  1. Master Fencer – 8/1

He is the lone foreign representative in this year’s Belmont Stakes, and as soon as this Japanese-bred crossed the Kentucky Derby finish line in seventh after rallying from dead last in under three furlongs his connections set their sights on the Belmont Stakes. He’s trained well, mostly at Keeneland since, though his controversial workout last week where he bounced off the rail has caused people to pause and wonder. Though class may be a question, he should like the distance and he’s Derby performance certainly makes him a threat.

  • first Belmont Stakes starter for owner Katsumi Yoshizawa
  • first Belmont Stakes starter for trainer Koichi Tsunoda
  • fifth Belmont Stakes mount for Julien Leparoux; best finish on Anak Nakal (2008) and Atigun (2012) (both 3rd)
  1. Tax – 15/1

The lone gelding in the field, he ran a lackluster 15th in the Derby before returning to her to his home track to prepare for this race. Two geldings have won the Belmont – Crème Fraiche in 1985 and Ruler On Ice in 2011. However, geldings were actually banned from running in the Belmont at all from 1918 to 1957.

  • second Belmont Stakes starter for owners Reeves Thoroughbreds; Mucho Macho Man was 7th in 2011; first Belmont Stakes Starter for Randy Hill, Hugh Lynch and Corms Racing
  • first Belmont Stakes starter for trainer Danny Gargan
  • sixth Belmont Stakes mount for Irad Ortiz Jr., one win — won aboard Creator (2016)
  1. Bourbon War – 12/1

He didn’t enough Road to the Derby points to make the Kentucky Derby starting gate, which considering his flat eighth-place finish in the Preakness last out was probably a good thing. Trainer Mark Hennig rolls the dice again and hopes for a better showing from this well-bred son of Tapit, who has sired the winner of the Preakness in three of the last five years – Tapwrit (2017), Creator (2016) and Tonalist (2014).

  • first Belmont Stakes starter for owners Bourbon Lane Stables and Lake Star Stable
  • second Belmont Stakes starter for Mark Hennig; best finish was Eddington in 2004 (4th)
  • 20th Belmont Stakes mount for Mike Smith, three wins — won aboard Drosselmeyer (2010), Palace Malice (2013) and Justify (2018)
  1. Spinoff – 15/1

– A runner-up finish in the Louisiana Derby sent this colt to Louisville for the Kentucky Derby where he was a well-beaten 18th after a very wide trip. Trainer Todd Pletcher decided this Wetheimer and Frere homebred son of Hard Spun was better suited to the Belmont Stakes and the 12-furlong distance. Hard Spun was fourth in the 2007 Belmont and Spinoff’s dam, Zaftig (by Gone West), was a grade 1 winner at a mile on the Belmont undercard in 2008 and his grand dam, Zoftig (by Cozzene), was a grade 1 winner in Canada.

  • second Belmont Stakes starter for owners Wertheimer et Frere; Interactif was 6th in 2010
  • trainer Todd Pletcher has had 26 previous Belmont Stakes starters, three winners – Rags to Riches (2007) and Palace Malice (2013) and Tapwrit (2017)
  • 12th Belmont Stakes mount for Javier Castellano; best finish on Stay Thirsty (2011), Commissionier (2014) and Destin (2016) (all 2nd)
  1. Sir Winston – 12/1

This Tracy Farmer homebred finished a decent second and closed strongly in the lane in the nine-furlong Peter Pan Stakes a month ago. He is bred to run all day, being by Awesome Again and out of an Afleet Alex mare and is a stakes winner on the all-weather at Woodbine. If he handles this jump in class, he could be prime for a win. He’s one of trainer Mark Casse’s two runners here.

  • third Belmont Stakes starter for owner Tracy Farmer; Royal Assault was third in 2004 and Indy Storm was 4th in 2005
  • first (of two this year) Belmont Stakes starters for trainer Mark Casse
  • 8th Belmont Stakes mount for Joel Rosario — won aboard Tonalist (2014)
  1. Intrepid Heart – 10/1

The most lightly raced in the field with just three starts, this will be his debut in grade 1 company after a third in the Peter Pan Stakes last out. He has a pedigree to go with the Belmont distance as he’s another son of Tapit and out of Flaming Heart, who is by 1997 Belmont winner Touch Gold. Robert and Lawana Low paid a lot of money for him ($750,000) and he seems well suited to this race.

  • second Belmont Stakes starter for owners Robert and Lawana Low; Steppenwolfer was 7th in 2006
  • trainer Todd Pletcher has had 26 previous Belmont Stakes starters, three winners – Rags to Riches (2007) and Palace Malice (2013) and Tapwrit (2017)
  • 22nd Belmont Stakes mount for John Velazquez — won aboard Rags to Riches (2007) and Union Rags (2012)
  1. War of Will — 2/1

With his win in the Preakness Stakes, Gary Barber’s colt answered a lot of lingering questions following the Derby “incident.” He’s apparently not lost much weight over the past five weeks and has trained forwardly, so Mark Casse decided he didn’t need a published workout before the Belmont. The son of War Front has proven to be a tough cookie and he has a solid chance to join 18 others who were dual classic winners of the Preakness and Belmont, including names like Man O’War, Native Dancer, Nashua, Damascus, Risen Star, Point Given and Afleet Alex.

  • second Belmont Stakes starter for owner Gary Barber; Multiplier was 10th in 2017
  • second (of two this year) Belmont Stakes starters for trainer Mark Casse
  • first Belmont Stakes mount for jockey Tyler Gaffalione
  1. Tacitus – 9/5

Juddmonte Farms’ well-bred son of Tapit’s Kentucky Derby performance was better than it looks on paper; he was 4th across the wire (bumped to 3rd after Maximum Security’s DQ) but raced erratically early and made up serious ground around the turn and in the stretch. He has the pedigree for this distance and the top connections to win.

  • third Belmont Stakes starter for owners Juddmonte Farms – won with Empire Maker in 2003
  • seventh Belmont Stakes Starter for trainer Bill Mott – won with Drosselmeyer in 2010
  • fifth Belmont Stakes mount for Jose Ortiz – won aboard Tapwrit (2017)
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