BELMONT STAKES HISTORY

Belmont Park and the Belmont Stakes are named after the first August Belmont (originally August Schonberg), who was born in 1816 in Prussia and died in New York City in 1890. He was a well-known figure in the Gilded Age–a banker, an influential member of the Democratic party, a patron of the arts, and a prominent racehorse owner. In 1882, the town where Belmont Park is located was changed from Alden Manor to Elmont.

The August Belmont-financed inaugural Belmont Stakes was held in 1867 at Jerome Park in the Bronx, a track named for another Gilded Age business titan, Leonard Jerome, the father-in-law of Winston Churchill. The race was relocated to Morris Park in 1890.

Belmont Park opened in 1905 and the Belmont Stakes found a permanent home. August Belmont Jr. (1853-1924) purchased the land and built Belmont Park, which he named after his father. When the United States entered World War I, Belmont dispersed his racing stable and joined the Army at age 64. One of the yearlings he sold at auction at Saratoga was Man o’ War.

The Belmont Stakes was not run in 1911 and 1912 owing to anti-gambling legislation and was moved to Aqueduct from 1963 through 1967 while Belmont Park underwent renovations. The race has been run at a distance of 1 ½ miles since 1926. Previously, it had been run at distances ranging from 1 1/8 miles to 1 5/8 miles.

Prior to 1931, the sequence of the Triple Crown races varied, with the Preakness coming before the Kentucky Derby on eleven occasions and eleven times the Belmont came before the Preakness. Twice the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness were held the same day.

Sir Barton won the Belmont in 1919 and in 1930 he was retroactively declared to be the first winner of the American Triple Crown. He won the Kentucky Derby on May10th at 1 ¼ miles, the Preakness on May 14th at 1 1/8 miles, and the Belmont on June 11th at 1 3/8 miles. Between the Preakness and the Belmont, on May 24th, Sir Barton won the one-mile Withers at Belmont Park.

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