A history of the Belmont Stakes, the oldest of the Triple Crown horse races
The Belmont Stakes is one of the most grueling horse races at a mile and a half long and is a test of horses' stamina and speed.
Known as the "Test of Champions," Belmont is the oldest of the three Triple Crown races, which includes the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, according to BelmontStakes.com.
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Named after financier August Belmont, the first-ever race took place in 1867 at Jerome Park but later moved to Belmont Park in New York in 1905.
Jockey Ron Turcotte sits atop of Secretariat (2) racing to win the Triple Crown at the Belmont Stakes on June 9, 1973, at Belmont Park, Elmont, NY. (Focus On Sport/Getty Images)
As the 155th running of the Belmont Stakes approaches on June 10, here are memorable moments in its history.
Belmont Stakes winners and historic moments
The Belmont Stakes has produced epic performances and champions throughout its history. Some notable Belmont Stakes winners through the years include Seattle Slew, Rags to Riches, Point Given, Damascus, Gallant Man, Nashua, Native Dancer, and Man o’ War.
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The inaugural winner of the Belmont Stakes was the thoroughbred Ruthless in 1867. But more than 100 years later, fans witnessed one of the most memorable races in 1973 when Secretariat set a world record for a mile-and-a-half long race with a time of 2 minutes and 24 seconds. With the victory, Secretariat became the ninth horse to win the Triple Crown.
Affirmed and jockey Steve Cauthen gain a short lead on the front stretch against Alydar and jockey Jorge Velasquez during the Belmont Stakes on June 10, 1978 at Belmont Park, New York. (Photo by Focus on Sport via Getty Images)
Five years later in 1978, thoroughbred Affirmed defeated Alydar at the Belmont in a battle that helped Affirmed become the 11th Triple Crown winner. Many racing fans considered their showdown one of the sport's most intense competitions.
Nearly 40 years later, American Pharoah made history in 2015 by winning the Belmont with a 5 1/2 length victory and a time of 2 minutes and 26.65 seconds, the second-fastest behind Secretariat.
American Pharoah wins the 147th Belmont Stakes and the Triple Crown. American Pharoah was ridden by Victor Espinoza. (Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Three years later, Justify won the 150th Belmont Stakes and became the 13th horse to win the Triple Crown, according to BelmontStakes.com.
In 2020, the Belmont was closed to the public due to COVID-19, and a year later, the race was limited to a little over 11,000 fans because of virus restrictions, CBS reported.
The start of the 154th running of the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York on June 11, 2022. (Photo by John Conrad Williams, Jr. /Newsday RM via Getty Images)
But things returned to normal in 2022 amid the pandemic, and fans witnessed Mo Donegal claim victory at the Belmont.
Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. celebrates as he crosses the finish line riding Mo Donegal to win the 154th running of the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York on June 11, 2022. (Photo by Thomas A. Ferrara./Newsday RM via Getty Images)
Mo Donegal’s win at Belmont in 2022 marked the fourth straight year that three different horses won a Triple Crown race, according to Sports Illustrated.
This story was reported from Washington, D.C.