The Longest Ride

Just because it has for 13 Triple Crown champions, the Japanese white pine that’s captured within the brand of Belmont Park will present shade over the paddock because the contenders for the 153rd working of the Belmont Stakes are saddled on Saturday.

Though there will probably be no Triple Crown on the road, and even near the variety of followers the race attracts in years with out a pandemic, about 11,000 persons are anticipated to be sprinkled within the cavernous grandstand and the bucolic yard — Belmont Park’s refined model of an infield.

Whereas the mile-and-a-quarter Kentucky Derby sometimes has an overstuffed discipline and requires a little bit of racing luck, and the mile-and-three-sixteenths Preakness Stakes requires sturdiness, the mile-and-a-half Belmont, nicknamed the Test of the Champion for a purpose, requires the proper mixture of velocity, stamina and grit.

The Belmont, first run in 1867 at Jerome Park within the Bronx and gained by a filly named Ruthless, is the oldest of the three Triple Crown races, predating the Preakness by six years and the Derby by eight. Belmont Park opened in Elmont, N.Y., in 1905, nearly 15 years after the dying of August Belmont Sr., the financier and politician who established the race.

The most important observe, the longest in North America, is nicknamed the Big Sandy and appears extra like a freeway than a spot for thoroughbreds. It circles a big grass infield that, if it had been in Manhattan, would have been filled with skyscrapers way back.

In 1919, Sir Barton turned the primary horse to win the Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont, a feat that turned generally known as the Triple Crown. Since 1931 the Belmont has been the ultimate leg in yearly however 2020, when it was held earlier than the opposite Triple Crown races due to the pandemic.

In 1973, Secretariat turned the ninth Triple Crown champion, successful by 31 lengths and prompting the observe announcer, Chic Anderson, to exclaim, “He’s moving like a tremendous machine!”

When Affirmed gained the Triple Crown in 1978, he was the third horse to take action in six years, and it appeared that securing the largest prize within the sport was not a formidable process. But after that, 13 horses that gained the Derby and the Preakness got here up quick on the Belmont earlier than the colt American Pharoah turned a Triple Crown champion in 2015. Employees leapt onto each other’s backs, and followers danced and howled late into the evening. A mere three years later, Justify repeated the feat.

While a lot has modified over time — the music ushering the horses onto the observe is once more Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” after a one-year experiment with “Empire State of Mind,” and the grounds are shared with the Islanders’ new enviornment — a lot has stayed the identical. A blanket of white carnations nonetheless greets the winner, Triple Crown hero or not, whereas the tree — plus the Secretariat statue that got here after — nonetheless looms over all of it.

Zev after his 1923 Belmont win.

War Admiral was rewarded with two quarts of oats after his 1937 Triple Crown win.

Owner Fannie Hertz main Count Fleet to the winner’s circle after the colt made a runaway of the seventy-fifth Belmont Stakes in 1943. By his triumph he wrote a brand new chapter in turf historical past, turning into the primary horse ever to win all 5 of the large spring races on the time — the Wood Memorial, Derby, Preakness, Withers and Belmont.

Native Dancer, ridden by Eric Guerin, beats Jamie Okay, ridden by Eddie Arcaro, within the 85th Belmont Stakes in 1953. Royal Bay Gem completed third.

Former President Dwight D. Eisenhower and former first woman Mamie Eisenhower attend the races in 1961.

Reading in regards to the rivals earlier than the race begins.

Preparing for bettors on opening day on the park in 1968.

People sprawled within the paddock space, taking within the solar in 1971.

At left, Some of the 61,106 spectators in attendance at Belmont Park in 1981 to observe Pleasant Colony’s bid for the third jewel of racing’s Triple Crown. At proper, Secretariat was guided throughout the end line, 31 lengths forward of his rivals, in 1973.

A spectator eyes the motion in 1975.

Bet Twice, with Craig Perret aboard, starting to tug away from the sphere on the head of the stretch in 1987. The horse went on to win by 14 lengths.

Alysheba will get a shower after returning to the barn from a exercise in 1987.

In 1993, Julie Krone turned the primary lady to win a Triple Crown race after driving Colonial Affair to victory.

Horses undergo their morning exercises the day earlier than the Belmont Stakes in 2007.

Recording the beginning in 2011.

A modern spectator in 2011.

Riders and their horses making their option to a morning exercise on race day in 2015.

American Pharoah and the jockey Victor Espinoza celebrating within the winner’s circle after capturing the Triple Crown in 2015.

The grandstands had been nearly empty as Tiz the Law, ridden by Manuel Franco and educated by Barclay Tagg, gained the 152nd working of the Belmont Stakes in 2020.

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