Atop the list of winningest trainers in Belmont Stakes history there stands one name: James Rowe. A former jockey, Rowe struck out on his own as a trainer in the late 1870’s while he was in his early twenties. In 1881, he became the youngest trainer ever to win the Kentucky Derby, but it was his record in the Belmont that would grant him racing immortality. In addition to two victories as a rider, Rowe won the Belmont eight times as a trainer. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame posthumously in 1955, and has more champion horses to his credit than any other trainer in the Hall.
Rowe may have the undisputed record for Belmont winners, but it is Woody Stephens who has arguably accomplished the race’s greatest training feat. Beginning in 1982 with Conquistador Cielo, Stephens won five consecutive editions of the race, ending with Danzig Connection in 1986. For his incredible achievement (and many other significant victories in New York), Stephens still lends his name to one of the Belmont’s undercard stakes.
Ahead of Stephens on the leaderboard are Sam Hildreth and “Sunny Jim” Fitzsimmons, with seven and six wins, respectively, and trailing Stephens with four wins apiece are Max Hirsch, D. Wayne Lukas, and R. W. Walden. Though he has received much attention in recent years for saddling two Triple Crown winners in the Belmont, Bob Baffert only has three Belmont victories to his credit.