The 2020 Belmont Stakes has been rescheduled for Saturday 20 June due to the Covid-19 outbreak and will be run at a distance of nine furlongs.
Run at a distance of 1 ½ miles as the last leg of the Triple Crown series, the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes is fittingly known as the ‘Test of the Champion.’ The race takes place in early June, five weeks after the Kentucky Derby and three weeks after the Preakness Stakes, and lives up to its name with a test of sheer stamina that is all but obsolete in contemporary American dirt racing, which comes at the end of a demanding Triple Crown schedule.
The Belmont was first run in 1867 at Jerome Park Racetrack in the Bronx, NY and is the oldest of the Triple Crown races. Its inaugural edition was won by a filly, Ruthless, and in 1890 it moved to nearby Morris Park Racecourse, also in the Bronx. The race landed at its current home, Belmont Park, situated just outside New York City in Elmont, NY on Long Island, in 1905, and rose to prominence in the 1930’s, when the order of the Triple Crown races was permanently established.
The Belmont Stakes will forever be associated with Secretariat’s legendary, 31-length victory in the race in 1973. The iconic image of the chestnut colt miles in front of his competition in the sprawling Belmont stretch is as potent an image there is for American dirt racing, and his record-setting performance in the race has yet to be eclipsed. After a long Triple Crown drought that began in the late 70’s and spanned nearly four decades, American Pharoah delivered a similarly influential, albeit much less dominant performance in the 2015 Belmont, when he became racing’s 12th Triple Crown winner.
The popularity of the Belmont tends to ebb and flow depending on whether or not a Triple Crown is at stake, but it is still one of the most well-attended events in American racing and in recent years, due to the addition of several other Grade 1 races to the card, the overall quality of the program is rivaled only by Breeders’ Cup Saturday.