The Belmont Stakes has a long and proud history of success; it is America’s oldest and most famous stakes race. Since 1867, the Belmont has captivated spectators as some of the world’s most excellent Thoroughbred horses have won or placed in this legendary Triple Crown race.
From Secretariat to Justify and Seattle Slew to Man o’ War, several incredible victories have helped shape the event’s legacy. As June begins to creep ever closer and people start betting Belmont Stakes, we wanted to look at five historic wins that left an indelible mark on the race.
Secretariat’s Record-Breaking Win (1973)
No one could believe what they saw at Belmont Park on June 9, 1973. Secretariat had the opportunity to enter horse racing history and win the final and most grueling leg of the Triple Crown after already claiming the first two. By the race’s final seconds, fans stood there watching with their mouths wide open in shock, not believing what they were witnessing.
Secretariat delivered a performance that was nothing short of magical. Racing on a sloppy, rain-drenched track, he was locked in a neck-and-neck battle with Sham on the backstretch. Then all of a sudden, Secretariat exploded. Four lengths…six lengths…eight lengths…12 lengths…the lead just kept growing.
As he rounded the turn for the homestretch, Secretariat was all alone with no other horse anywhere close. Even the announcer couldn’t contain his excitement, proclaiming, “Secretariat is widening now! He is moving like a tremendous machine!”
When all was said and done, the legendary horse galloped into the history books, finishing the grueling race in a record-breaking time of 2:24. He won by 31 lengths, a Triple Crown record that no one has even come close to topping.
It was as if Secretariat was on a mission that day, pulling away from the competition and leaving them in his dust. It was a moment that defined a legend and inspired a generation of horse racing fans.
Seattle Slew Completes Perfect Season (1977)
In 1977, Seattle Slew made history as the only horse to win the Triple Crown with an undefeated racing career. This feat is still celebrated today, over 40 years later, as a testament to Seattle Slew’s raw talent and incredible skill. Slew’s Belmont win in particular was a sight to behold, as he swept past his competitors with ease and crossed the finish line in first place.
Many attribute his success to his strong, muscular build and his determination on the track. Whatever the reason, there is no denying that Seattle Slew remains a legend in the world of horse racing, and his inspiring Triple Crown win will never be forgotten.
American Pharoah Breaks Triple Crown Drought (2015)
For 37 years, the Triple Crown title eluded horse racing and its enthusiasts. Many believed that the curse was never to be broken, considering the physical, tactical, and emotional hurdles it takes over a six-week span. But in 2015, American Pharoah defied the critics, accomplishing what no horse had done since Affirmed in 1978. Jockeyed by Victor Espinoza, the colt broke through the pack on the homestretch, winning by 5½ lengths to break the curse as the Belmont Park crowd roared in jubilation.
With his resilient spirit, explosive speed, and an unbreakable will, American Pharoah proved that perfection is not a pipe dream but a reality to be captured. Three years later, motivated by American Pharoah’s win, Mike Smith jockeyed Justify to a Triple Crown victory, the last horse to accomplish the feat.
Point Given Redeems Himself at the Belmont (2021)
He was supposed to be the horse that broke the curse. Point Given was one of the fastest colts in history, but his disappointing Kentucky Derby finish stunned racing fans everywhere. However, he bounced back with an impressive win at the Preakness, beating out Monarchos, setting up an opportunity to fully redeem his Triple Crown season at the Belmont Stakes and win two of the three Triple Crown legs.
Legendary jockey Gary Stevens, sporting his green and white silks, didn’t disappoint. He led Point Given to victory once again on June 9, 2001, at the Belmont Stakes. “The Big Red Train” almost looked like Secretariat out there, flying to an impressive 12-and-a-quarter-length victory over A.P. Valentine. At precisely 2:26.56, Point Given proved himself a remarkable horse at the turn of the millennium.
While the Kentucky Derby victory was certainly a letdown, the mammoth chestnut colt left an unforgettable impression on the Belmont Stakes and was deservedly crowned the 2001 Horse of the Year.
A.P. Indy Races to History (1992)
Tomonori Tsurumaki, the owner of A.P. Indy, drew inspiration from a motor racing circuit in his homeland of Japan when naming his horse. A.P. Indy’s racing prowess matched his moniker as he galloped around tracks with the speed and agility of an Indianapolis 500 contender.
A.P. Indy’s legacy runs deep in the Belmont Stakes, as he stems from the only three-generation winning family in the race’s history. With a sire of the 1977 Belmont champion, Seattle Slew, A.P. Indy went on to sire the 2007 Belmont winner, Rags To Riches. This bloodline has left a profound mark in the prestigious race’s record book.
In a stunning display of endurance in 1992, A.P. Indy emerged victorious against Pine Bluff and My Memoirs by a margin of three-quarters of a length in New York. He completed the Belmont in a swift 2 minutes and 26.13 seconds.
The Belmont Stakes has yielded some of horse racing’s most historical moments, none more so than the five wins discussed here. From Secretariat’s record-breaking stomping in 1973 to American Pharoah breaking the curse in 2015, Belmont Park has witnessed some of horse racing’s most iconic moments. All these horses define what it means to be a champion and prove why the sport has continued to grow for decades.
It remains to be seen what the 2023 Belmont Stakes will have in store for us. Will Mage win the Preakness and enter New York with a shot at becoming the 14th horse to win the Triple Crown? Will a dark horse emerge and be a big payout for those seeking a longshot? June 10 is right around the corner, and history is waiting to be made once again.