The Belmont Stakes, to be run Saturday for the 145th time, is the oldest, longest and the most grueling of the Triple Crown races. The mile-and-a-half sprint at New York’s Belmont Park requires more stamina than either the 1 1/4-mile Kentucky Derby or the 1 3/16-mile Preakness Stakes, which produced different winners this year, eliminating any chance of a sweep. Despite the Triple Crown drought—going on 35 years—there are still plenty of reasons to tune in.
Orb, the winner of the Kentucky Derby, and Oxbow, winner of the Preakness Stakes, are both expected to start, giving each the chance to notch a second Triple Crown victory. There are also plenty of new contenders in the field. As many as seven may make their Triple Crown debut Saturday and any one of them could sprint past Orb, Oxbow and the rest of the pack for the biggest chunk of the race’s $1 million purse.
Here's a bit more, by the numbers, about what to expect for the Belmont Stakes—and what sets the sometimes-overshadowed race apart from the others:
1.5: Length, in miles, of the race. It is the longest of any Triple Crown race and has proven too demanding for some of the most promising competitors, earning it the nickname the “Test of Champions.” Of the 29 Triple Crown contenders that have entered the race, only 11 managed to notch the requisite win at Belmont Park to claim the title. Affirmed was the last to do so, in 1978.
2:24: Length of time, in minutes, it took Secretariat to finish the Belmont Stakes in 1973. The iconic thoroughbred won by 31 lengths to crush the standing record at Belmont after breaking records at the Derby and Preakness. (The Preakness record was disputed and not officially confirmed until 2012, when new technology settled the 39-year-old controversy.)
1,000,000: Dollars that will be divvied up among Belmont's top finisher Saturday. $600,000 will go to the champion, $200,000 to the runner up, $110,000 to the third place winner, $60,000 to the fourth place winner and $30,000 to the fifth place winner.
14: Number of horses expected to start in Saturday’s race. Nearly half of them may be entering the Triple Crown for the first time. Always in a Tiz, Incognito, Code West, Freedom Child, Midnight Taboo, and Unlimited Budgetwould be new to the field. Giant Finish,Golden Soul, Orb, Overanalyze,Oxbow,Palace Malice,Revolutionaryand Will Take Charge have all competed in either the Kentucky Derby and/or the Preakness Stakes.
5: Number of Todd Pletcher-trained horses that could start at the race. They include: Palace Malice, who placed 12th in the Derby, Revolutionary (3rd in the Derby and considered one of the top contenders on the field), Overanalyze (11th at the Derby), Midnight Taboo and filly Unlimited Budget.
144: Number of years the race has been run. Saturday will be the 145th running of the Belmont Stakes. It is the oldest of the Triple Crown races, with eight years on the Kentucky Derby and six years on the Preakness Stakes.
85,000-90,000: Attendance capacity of Belmont Park. Somehow 120,139 spectators, however, were able to cram into the stadium to watch Smarty Jones go for a Triple Crown win in 2004. The horse fell short with a second-place finish behind Birdstone. It was the largest crowd to ever pack into the stadium.
$200: Price for box seats at Belmont. These seats are sold out, but second-hand sites are still offering them at a premium. On Tuesday the price for a box seat ticket on StubHub ranged from $1,199 to $3,990. (General admission tickets were going for $4 a piece.)
HISTORICAL FUN FACTS
10: Number of states to produce Belmont winners. They are: Kentucky, Virginia, New Jersey, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, California, Maryland, Texas and Montana.
9: Number of horses bred outside the U.S. who have won the Belmont Stakes. All have been from either England, Canada or Ireland.
22: Number of fillies, out of 1,069 thoroughbreds, that have competed in the Belmont Stakes. Of the 22 females, three have won: Ruthless in 1867; Tanya in 1905 and Rags to Riches in 2007. Unlimited Budget is the only filly expected in this year's field.
2: Number of geldings (neutered horses, which were barred from competing in the race between 1918 and 1957) to have won the race. Ruler On Ice won in 2011; Crème Fraiche in 1985. No geldings are running in the Belmont this year.