Belmont Stakes Records Set By Kentucky Derby Winners
With the Belmont Stakes coming up on Saturday, June 10th, let's look at some notable moments of past Derby winners who have gone on to contest the test of a champion.
Aristides, 1875. Kentucky Derby winners don’t figure in the top three of many early runnings of the Belmont Stakes, but inaugural Derby winner Aristides was one of them. He won the Derby after entering supposedly a pacemaker for his stablemate Chesapeake in the inaugural Kentucky Derby; jockey Oliver Lewis was waved on by connections when it became clear Chesapeake couldn’t win. Later that year he finished second to Calvin in the Belmont Stakes. No Derby winner would succeed in the Belmont Stakes until the first Triple Crown winner, Sir Barton, in 1919.
23. They include 12 Triple Crown winners (Sir Barton, Gallant Fox, Omaha, War Admiral, Whirlaway, Count Fleet, Assault, Citation, Secretariat, Seattle Slew, Affirmed, and American Pharoah), and 11 that won the Derby and Belmont but not the Preakness (Zev, Twenty Grand, Johnstown, Shut Out, Middleground, Needles, Chateaugay, Riva Ridge, Bold Forbes, Swale, and Thunder Gulch).
Secretariat, 1973. The mighty son of Bold Ruler not only ended a 25-year wait for a Triple Crown, he set the record times for each race, and his Belmont Stakes victory verged on the unbelievable. Extending halfway through the back stretch, Secretariat blew away his challengers and won by an incredible 31 lengths in a time of 2:24.00, which is still two seconds faster than the next-best time.
Count Fleet (1-20) in 1943. Not even Secretariat started as dominating a favorite in the Belmont as John D. Hertz’s star, who came into the race having won not only the Derby and Preakness, but also the Withers Stakes in between the second and third legs. With just two horses opposing him, Count Fleet put up a dominating performance, winning by 25 lengths, the largest margin in the race’s history until Secretariat turned up. Unfortunately an injured ankle meant he never raced again.
Chateaugay (9-2, 1963). Owned by John W. Galbreath, Chateaugay caused a mild 9-1 upset when closing fast to win the Derby in what was supposed to be a three-way contest between Never Bend, Candy Spots and No Robbery. Perhaps exhausted by an unplanned 1:37 3/5 mile workout four days beforehand, Chateaugay couldn’t catch Candy Spots in the Preakness, finishing second, and he started at 9-2 in the Belmont behind the odds-on Candy Spots. But in a race similar to the Derby, Chateaugay settled off the pace before rallying on the final turn and he was a 2-1/2 length winner.
Real Quiet in 1998. The son of Quiet American had won twice in 12 starts prior to the Derby, but won that and the Preakness stylishly, each time showing great acceleration on the final turn to defeat Victory Gallop. The Triple Crown looked his at the top of the Belmont stretch as Kent Desormeaux drove him clear, but Victory Gallop charged at him late. The result: Victory Gallop got up right on the line to win by a nose, the closest finish in Belmont Stakes history, and heartbreaking for all who were hoping for the 20-year Triple Crown drought to be broken.
Don't miss your chance to support Kentucy Derby starters attempting to win the third jewel of the Triple Crown. Sign up for your chance to back your Belmont favorite with a bet!
(Photo by Chelsea Durand/Coglianese Photos)