Belmont Park is one of the most important horse racing venues in the United States.
First of all, it is located in arguably the best horse racing market in the world, New York, and thousands of people bet on the races each day at the track or in the numerous off-track betting venues of the city.
But maybe more importantly for its reputation, the racetrack hosts the Belmont Stakes race every year which is the second leg of the American Triple Crown, along with the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes.
Belmont Park is therefore rightfully considered one of the top horse racing tracks in the USA.
Belmont Park is one of three racetracks in the New York Circuit with the other two being Saratoga, which hosts the summer meet, and Aqueduct, which hosts the winter meet.
Horses on the New York Circuit will usually move from track to track as the season progresses.
History and remodeling
The Belmont Park racetrack was opened in 1905 and was rebuilt and modernized in 1964. The new Belmont Park can now host over 100 000 fans but that of course happens only on the main racing days.
In 2007, talks emerged to shut down Aqueduct and move the winter racing to Belmont Park but the idea thankfully died down and the three New York racetracks will continue to operate, at least for now.
Note that some change is coming to the neighborhood of Belmont Park in 2020, probably for the better. The NHL hockey team the New York Islanders will be moving their stadium next door and that might attract some new fans to the racetrack.
With the legalization of Sports betting happening most likely in 2019, we can expect Belmont Park to soon become a major location for sports betting as well as horse racing.
Belmont Stakes, the second leg of the horse racing Triple Crown
The main race each year at Belmont Park is the second leg of the Triple Crown: the Belmont Stakes.
The Belmont Stakes is a Grade 1 route race reserved for horses aged 3 years old. It is organized at Belmont Park on the first or second Saturday of June every year.
The Belmont Stakes is the longest of the Triple Crown races and therefore the most testing for the young horses. The 1 mile and a half that they will have to travel is generally the longest that these horses will have run in their career. Moreover, most horses in the field will have participated in the Kentucky Derby one month prior and therefore most will have already exerted themselves a lot in their previous race.
As the second leg of the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes is a pivotal point of the racing season as its winner determines whether or not we will have a Triple Crown winner this year, a horse winning all three top races for 3 years old.
Recent winners of the Belmont Stakes include:
- Justify (2018, Triple Crown Winner)
- Tapwrit (2017)
- Creator (2016)
- American Pharaoah (2015 Triple Crown Winner)
Belmont Park track configuration and track bias
Belmont Park has three separate racetracks, on the same model as the other New York venues.
The main track is a dirt oval of 1 and a half miles, which is the longest in North America. This track plays host to the Belmont Stakes.
The main turf track is right inside, with a length of 1 mile and 5/16
And inside, one finds the Inner Turf Track, another grass track with sharper turns, which spans 1 mile and 3/16 in length.
The Belmont Park tracks allow for varying race distances, thanks to the chutes which are straight away expansions to the ovals. These chutes notably allow the running of longer races with horses going only around one turn. This single turn makes the race somewhat fairer as there is less chance of a horse being forced outside and having to run longer.
Thanks to this configuration, Belmont Park does not have a very strong track bias.
Just like most North American horse racing tracks, Belmont Park tends to favor somewhat the horses who can take the lead or stay close to it throughout. But at Belmont Park, it is still possible to catch the leaders in the long stretch. The track is known to be tiring, therefore stamina might explain why relatively many horses are caught in the end.
It is important to note that the spring races and fall races might run a bit differently, due to weather and temperature changes. We advise to keep an eye on the recent Belmont Park results to see if the track bias is holding or changed.
Belmont Park track bias on dirt
Sprint races on the dirt are still generally won by horses who can stay close to the lead and about 30% of such races are won wire to wire.
Route races of 1 mile or more are more balanced and only about 20% of these races are won wire to wire.
In both Sprint and route races, it is better to be starting from the outside gates.
Interestingly, the 1 mile and 1/16 races at Belmont Park are won more often by early leaders and being on the inside is favorable. It is hard to explain this difference, but it is pretty stable in time, so it looks like there is some more specific track bias on this distance for some reason.
Belmont Park track bias on turf
The turf sprints, especially on the inner turf course, favor early speed horses a lot. Over one third of such races are won going wire to wire. Starting from the inside post positions is favorable.
The turf route races are more balanced. Early speed or being able to stay close to the leaders pays off but most races are won by horses overtaking the leader in the stretch. The inside post positions are generally better.
Belmont Park best trainers
Some of the most prolific horse trainers operate out of New York and they populate a lot of the races at Belmont Park.
But of course, considering the stature of the racetrack and some of the races, including the Belmont Stakes, all the best trainers in America regularly send their stock over to Belmont Park to compete.
Amongst the most successful and reliable trainers at Belmont Park, you can find the following people:
On the dirt track:
- Christophe Clement (25% win rate)
- Todd A. Pletcher (25% win rate)
- Jeremiah C. Englehart (25% win rate)
- Chad C. Brown (20% win rate)
- Charlton Baker (20% win rate)
- Steven M. Asmussen (20% win rate)
- Jason Servis (20% win rate)
- Rudy R. Rodriguez (15% win rate)
On the turf track:
- Chad C. Brown (26% win rate)
- Christophe Clement (22% win rate)
- Jason Servis (22% win rate)
- William I. Mott (18% win rate)
- Mark E. Casse (15% win rate)
Of course, being such a famous racetrack, and located in such a great city as New York, you can find some of the best American jockeys at Belmont Park.
The local breed of riders is amongst the best in the country, but the most famous American and sometimes foreign jockeys travel to Belmont Park to take part in the graded stakes race organized here.
From the list of Belmont Park Jockeys, those are the most talented and reliable year after year
On the dirt track:
- Jose L. Ortiz (win rate 22%)
- Irad Ortiz, Jr. (win rate 20%)
- John R. Velazquez (win rate 20%)
- Manuel Franco (win rate 15%)
- Joel Rosario (win rate 15%)
- Junior Alvarado (win rate 15%)
- Javier Castellano (win rate 15%)
- Kendrick Carmouche (win rate 15%)
On the turf track:
- Javier Castellano (win rate 22%)
- Joel Rosario (win rate 21%)
- John R. Velazquez (win rate 19%)
- Irad Ortiz, Jr. (win rate 19%)
- Jose L. Ortiz (win rate 16%)
- Junior Alvarado (win rate 15%)
Belmont Park is open for business during two seasons, Spring and Fall.
Some of the highest caliber races are organized each year at Belmont Park. Here is the list of the main races held every year at the track:
GRADE 1 STAKES at Belmont Park:
- Man o' War
- Acorn Stakes
- Belmont Stakes
- Jaipur (BC)
- Longines Just a Game
- Ogden Phipps (BC)
- Runhappy Metropolitan Handicap (BC)
- Woody Stephens
- Belmont Derby Invitational
- Belmont Oaks Invitational
GRADE 2 STAKES at Belmont Park:
- Fort Marcy
- Sheepshead Bay
- Pennine Ridge
- Belmont Gold Cup
- New York
- True North
- Mother Goose
- John A. Nerud (BC)
- Suburban Handicap
GRADE 3 STAKES at Belmont Park:
- Peter Pan
- Vagrancy Handicap
- Soaring Softly
- Wonder Again
- Bed O' Roses
- Victory Ride
Belmont Park address and website:
- 2150 Hempstead Turnpike, Elmont, New York 11003