History Awaits

2014 Belmont Stakes

2014 Belmont Stakes Poster

The 146th running of the Belmont Stakes will take place at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York this Saturday. The barrier draw was held on Wednesday, 4 June as we went to print.

There were 13 entries including: California Chrome, Commanding Curve, Commissioner, General A Rod, Kid Cruz, Matterhorn, Medal Count, Matuszak, Ride On Curlin, Samraat, Social Inclusion, Tonalist and Wicked Strong.

There will be a packed 9-race programme for ‘Belmont day’ beginning with the $150,000 Easy Goer at 11:35 a.m. ET (17:35 South African time).

However, all eyes will be on the Belmont field, set to face the starter at 18:35 p.m. ET (12:35 pm South African time) when California Chrome bids to become the 12th Triple Crown winner.

The Belmont is oldest of the 3 Triple Crown races and it is called ‘The Test of the Champion’ or the Run For The Carnations, as the winner is presented with a blanket of white carnations. The official song has changed a few times, but is currently Frank Sinatra’s ‘Theme to New York New York’. As with the other Triple Crown races there is also an official drink which was originally the White Carnation, but is now the Belmont Breeze (apparently both are pretty unpleasant).

Sir Barton was the first Triple Crown winner in 1919 and there have been a total of only 11 winners in this history of the series. The winners are Sir Barton (1919), Gallant Fox (1930), Omaha (1935), War Admiral (1937), Whirlaway (1941), Count Fleet (1943), Assault (1946), Citation (1948), Secretariat (1973), Seattle Slew (1977), and the last winner was 36 years ago when Affirmed beat Alydar by a nose in 1978.

The race has only been won by a filly 3 times – Ruthless in 1867, Tanya in 1905 and Rags To Riches in 2007.

To date, thirty-four horses, including Chrome, have won the Derby and the Preakness, but 22 of those fell short in the Belmont.

If ‘Chrome’ wins the Belmont, he will be the first California-bred Triple Crown winner and just the fourth horse bred outside of Kentucky to sweep the three classics. Only three other horses foaled away from the Bluegrass State have won the Triple Crown: Texas-bred Assault in 1946, Virginia-bred Secretariat in 1973, and Florida-bred Affirmed in 1978.

We stand on the threshold. Beyond gallop the ghosts of 11 Triple Crown immortals. Can a flashy chestnut California-bred carry us through? History awaits.

 

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