The million dollar race to the wire doesn’t come easy, especially when the distance in picture is a mile and a complete half appended to it. This is the Belmont Stakes, the third leg of the Triple Crown and also the most testing of all, the prime reason for it also being known as, “The Test of Champions.”

The Kentucky Derby is the first longest race any three year old thoroughbred races inorder to take its first step towards the prestigious Triple Crown however, the mile and a half also is the longest they shall ever run as no race is longer that the Belmont Stakes in flat racing owing to the fact that thoroughbred racing evolved over the time from dead heats to speed races at shorter distances, 1.5miles being the most grueling.

The three legs of the Triple Crown are laden with traditions that have defined the sport for more than a century. And Belmont Stakes practices are the oldest, taking them to 1867, preceding the Derby by eight and the Preakness by six years. The race’s influence is second only to the first two legs of the Triple Crown. Though the Triple Crown has eluded the scene of North American thoroughbred racing, the Belmont Stakes is also a test of all the contenders who aim at finishing the long distance and might as well also win it with a remarkable lead, though the latter is somehow a rarity.

The first Belmont Stakes was won by a filly, Ruthless, a determined filly owned by Francis Morris. In 1919, the first Triple Crown winner, Sir Barton timed a fast 2:17.40 for a mile and three furlongs. However the most memorable win in the Belmont Stakes took form when Secretariat galloped to an effortless win by 31 lengths and clocking a super fast 2:24.00 for a mile and a half. There are no doubts that Secretariat’s win was the greatest of all times as the field consisted of cut throat rivals like Sham and creating history with the fastest mile and a half, a record untouched till date.

The Belmont Stakes is a traditionally rich race that has metamorphosed into one of the most recognized and esteemed tournaments in flat racing in North America. With its history of over 140 years, the race is very similar to the Derby with its practices of awarding the race winner a blanket of flowers, here, white carnations. Other than that, the trophy for the Belmont Stakes is a Tiffany’s designed silver covered cup with the figurine of the 1869 winner of the race, Fenian, owned by August Belmont. Though the owner can keep the trophy for the year, the trainer, owner and the jockey are also awarded a smaller replica of the trophy each.

The official drink for the race was the White Carnation until it was replaced with Belmont Breeze when the traditional practices underwent changes in 1997. The changes also included the replacement of the traditional Belmont theme, “Sidewalks of New York” with “New York New York” to increase the mass appeal of the sport amongst the new generation.

Every year, the winner’s silks are colored onto the cast iron racing horse and jockey and placed along the paddock fence and if there happens to be a Triple Crown winner, it is placed permanently with the previous Triple Crown winners. However this has been in wait since 1978.

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