The third and final leg of the illustrious Triple Crown™, the Belmont Stakes is a true test of a champion. Ran over one-and-half-miles, the race is one of America’s most highly-anticipated of the racing calendar. Named after leading banker and racing man of the 19th century August Belmont, the Belmont Stakes is held five weeks after the Kentucky Derby and three weeks after the Preakness Stakes.
First inaugurated in 1867, the Belmont Stakes initially took place at Jerome Park from 1867 to 1889, before moving to its current home in 1905 with the opening of Belmont Park in Elmont, NY.
The longest of all three Triple Crown™ races, the Belmont Stakes is unpredictable. It is a test of guts and stamina. While many have gone in search of immortality here and the coveted Triple Crown (34 horses were eligible), just 12 horses have completed the rarest of American sporting successes.
At Belmont Park, horses must be bred to run the extra distance. At 1.5 miles-in-length, it is one of the longest first-class races in the United States.
Down through the years, the hallowed turf has seen it all. From Secretariat’s record-breaking act of sheer brilliance in 1973 when “moving like a tremendous machine”, Rags To Riches bridging a 102-year gap by becoming just the third filly to stride to victory in 2007, to 2015’s coronation of American Pharoah when becoming the 12th horse to win the Triple Crown™ following 37 years of a drought, few races compare when it comes to history, prestige or excitement.
Ahead of the 2017 Belmont Stakes, which takes place from June 8 -10 at Belmont Park, NY. Belmont Experiences will recount the story of our ten favorite successes at the “Run for the Carnations” for the next ten Wednesday’s leading up to race week.
Afleet Alex, 2005
Could’ve, would’ve, should’ve. Those are the words which probably best describe Afleet Alex’s 2005 three-year-old season. A third in the first race of the Triple Crown series, the Kentucky Derby, was followed by a win in the Preakness.
With a rubber match showdown set for fans between Afleet Alex and Derby winner Giancomo, the former was sent off a 6-5 favorite under young jockey Jeremy Rose. Despite foreboding dark clouds looming overhead, the rain held off as 62,274 crowded Belmont Park.
The pace was slow and steady early on, set by longshot Pinpoint. Cautioned about making a move too early, Jeremy Rose tucked Afleet Alex to eighth on the inside right, saving ground for the run-in.
Taking in the far turn, the pace setters soon dropped off as Mike Smith asked Giancomo to go. Hitting the front by a short head at the mile-and-a-quarter pole, his lead was short-lived as Afleet Alex roared past with a furlong left. Hanging on Alex’s coattail, 12-1 shot Andormeda’s Hero made a late charge from 10th, but it was too little, too late.
Nobody could live with Afleet Alex’s devastating turn of foot. His lead increased with every stride, running the final quarter mile in :24.50, the fastest closer since Arts and Letters in 1969.
Speaking after the win, trainer Tim Ritchey said, “We expected this kind of performance. I wasn't surprised he was that far back, but when he got rolling, it was a lot of fun.”
Afleet Alex’s triumphant display in the 2005 Belmont Stakes came as a timely reminder of his potential, and perhaps what might have been. As far as performances in the Belmont Stakes, few matched Afleet Alex’s seven length demolition of a field.
"He should be a Triple Crown winner,” said jockey Jeremy Rose.
Be at the Belmont Stakes in 2017!
The Belmont Stakes is a true test of a champion. In 2017, make sure you are there to witness history in the making. With Belmont Experiences, the Official Experience Provider for the Belmont Stakes, race fans will be able to enjoy all-encompassing views of the track.
Complete with access to our in-track, climate-controlled hospitality setting in The Diamond Room at North Shore Terrace, guests will enjoy gourmet food buffets, a premium open bar, live entertainment, legendary jockey appearances, and big-screen televisions with full race day coverage that ensure you’ll be in the most festive and exciting venue for the 2017 Belmont Stakes.