The two most important events in the journey to becoming a Triple Crown winner in thoroughbred horse racing occurs at the Preakness and Belmont Stakes.
The winner of the Triple Crown series must first claim victory at the Kentucky Derby in early May, the Preakness Stakes later that month, and finally, the Belmont Stakes in early June.
Read below to learn about the history and differences between these Triple Crown races.
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What is the Belmont Stakes?
The Belmont Stakes is the final challenge for a thoroughbred horse to become a Triple Crown Winner. It occurs every year, typically in June, at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York. The track is famous for hosting almost every American champion horse racer in the history of the sport. The Belmont track features large turns and a lengthy homestretch that has tested the limits of the best horses.
Millions of people from around the world watch the Belmont annually, and some of the most prominent members of American thoroughbred horse racing show up in person for the race. For well over a century, some of the greatest horses after cemented their legacy on the track, including Secretariat, widely considered the greatest racehorse ever to live and who holds the fastest record at the Belmont.
Horse racers at the Belmont need to take several factors into consideration in order to achieve victory at the Championship Track, including conserving the stamina of their horse while being able to go the distance against some of the best breeds in the racing world. The Belmont takes place approximately five weeks after the Kentucky Derby and three weeks following the conclusion of the Preakness Stakes.
What is the Preakness Stakes?
The Preakness Stakes takes place annually during the third Saturday of May on Armed Forces Day at the Pimlico Race track in Baltimore. Occurring two weeks after the Kentucky Derby, the race is the second challenge racehorses must overcome on the road for the Triple Crown prize. The dirt track allows colts and geldings to carry a weight of up to 126 pounds, while fillies are allowed 121 pounds.
Founded in 1873, the race is named after the horse Preakness, who won at the Dinner Party Stakes three years prior in 1870. However, for over a decade, the Preakness was hosted outside of Maryland in Westchester County, New York, in 1890 and Brooklyn from 1894 until 1908. The race is considered the second most popular horse racing event in the United States, behind the Kentucky Derby.
The Preakness nearly always attracts a lot of attention and viewership, especially for the Triple Crown series fans and individuals looking to bet on various breeds over who will win the race.
How are the Triple Crown horse competitions different?
One of the key differences between the Preakness and Belmont is the length of the track that the horses and their jockeys are competing on. The Preakness is the second-longest track in the Triple Crown Series at 1 3/16 miles long, while the Belmont is the longest, measured at 1 ½ miles. In comparison, most other pre-Derby races for young horses are 1 1/8 miles long, making the Belmont one of the longest tracks in the country.
Moreover, the Belmont is the oldest race in the Triple Crown Series, established in 1867 and followed by the Preakness six years before the Kentucky Derby emerged in 1875. The Preakness and Belmont also have different traditions, such as singing a song that is themed after the state it is hosted in. For example, the song “New York, New York” is sung at the Belmont while Preakness attendees sing “Maryland, My Maryland.”
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