Belmont Stakes Prep Races & Qualification

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Last updated: June 8, 2022

Belmont Stakes Prep Races

The challenge of winning the Belmont Stakes

The Belmont Stakes concludes the American Triple Crown for three-year-old Thoroughbreds and represents a unique challenge due to its 1 1/2-mile distance. Most participants will never be asked to travel that far again in their racing career.

Held at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York, just outside the confines of New York City in Long Island, the Belmont Stakes takes place three weeks after the 1 3/16-mile Preakness Stakes. The 1 1/4-mile Kentucky Derby kicks off the Triple Crown series on the first Saturday in May, two weeks prior to the Preakness.

Horses that compete in all three Classic races during a five-week time period are undertaking an extreme test of both endurance and stamina. A challenge for modern training methods to race in all three jewels, only winner American Pharoah was up to the challenge in 2015 after over 30 years of attempts, to win a Triple Crown, followed closely by Justify who completed the historic treble in 2018.

Traditional Belmont Stakes Prep Races

The Belmont Stakes is a unique challenge with its 1 ½ mile distance, and the third leg of the Triple Crown is commonly known as the “Test of the Champion.”

Pedigree profiles are often studied more for horses running in the Belmont, as it’s the first time a horse is challenged at running the 1 ½ mile (12 furlong) distance.

The Grade 1 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes serve as the main feeder races and traditional preps leading into the Belmont, and Belmont Park also offers a local prep of the Peter Pan Stakes a month before the Belmont. Evaluating how a horse finished, held up or what kind of trip it got in the 1 ¼ mile Kentucky Derby can assist handicappers in identifying a horse at a price that is more capable of hitting the board or knocking off the favorite. A horse going for the Triple Crown is always a favorite in the Belmont Stakes, and other favorites are usually the Derby or Preakness winners.  

Historically, the favorite in the Belmont Stakes has rarely won the race. Tapwrit (5-1) won the 2017 Belmont and Creator (16-1) was a nose winner in 2016. Each of those horses was sired by Tapit and last raced in the Kentucky Derby prior to the Belmont. The last Peter Pan winner to take the Belmont was Tonalist (9-1) in 2014, and he too was sired by Tapit and dashed the hopes of California Chrome (4th) who was trying for the Triple Crown sweep.

Belmont Park’s main track is the biggest in North America, and an experienced jockey who is familiar with the large, sweeping turns, massive oval and long stretch run is often more important than a horse having experience running over the Belmont surface. Having a horse with a combination of speed, stamina and a top jock is a formula for contending and winning the Belmont Stakes, so evaluate the Belmont runners from the three prep races and dig deeper into those races, speed figures, form and pedigree as you try to wager and win for profit in the Belmont Stakes.    

More on races that Belmont Stakes starters tend to run in

The 2017 Belmont Stakes Picture

The Belmont Stakes is the third leg of the American Triple Crown for three-year-old thoroughbred horses. The 1 ½ mile distance represents a huge challenge for horses and especially those that are running in their third race in five weeks if they ran in both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. The Belmont Stakes is dubbed the ‘Test of the Champion’ for its distance and endurance test. 

The Kentucky Derby and Preakness serve as the main feeder races for the Belmont Stakes, and Belmont Park offers a local prep, the Peter Pan Stakes (G3). The 2017 Peter Pan winner was Timeline, who improved his record to 3-for-3. But trainer Chad Brown has indicated that Timeline is still developing after running his first race as a 3-year-old March 4. Timeline has won two races over a sloppy track including the Peter Pan, and Brown says his colt, a son of Hard Spun, is better suited to a 1 1/8 mile distance and likely to pass on the Belmont Stakes.

However, Brown won his first Triple Crown race in the 2017 Preakness with Cloud Computing. A decision on whether Cloud Computing will run in the Belmont will be made a week after the Preakness, however, Brown, who is based in New York, knows there will be some added pressure to run Cloud Computing in the Belmont.
Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming is not yet committed to the Belmont Stakes, but Classic Empire will run at Belmont and test his endurance and stamina after finishing 4th in the Derby and a close 2nd in the Preakness.

Older Belmont Stakes Contenders

Other Belmont Stakes runners include Senior Investment (3rd in Preakness), Lookin At Lee (2nd in Kentucky Derby and 4th in Preakness) and Japanese invader Epicharis, who will make his North American debut in the $1.5 million Belmont.

Preakness runners Multiplier (6th) and Conquest Mo Money (7th) are likely Belmont starters while Derby runners Irap (18th), Gormley (9th), J Boys Echo (15th), Tapwrit (6th) and Patch (14th) are looking like they will make a run in the Belmont. Also Twisted Tom, who broke his maiden at Belmont last September and has won three straight races in 2017, is another likely starter in the June 10 Belmont Stakes.       
At 1 1/2 miles, Belmont Park’s main track is the biggest in North America and it’s a long way from the top of the stretch to the finish line. 

The 2014 Belmont winner, Tonalist, prepped in the Peter Pan, earning his first stakes victory in that event. Other Belmont Stakes winners who used that date on the calendar in preparation include Drosselmeyer (2010), Lemon Drop Kid (1999) and A.P. Indy (1992).

At 1 1/2 miles, Belmont Park’s main track is the biggest in North America and it’s a long way from the top of the stretch to the finish line. Horses don’t need experience over the track to run well at Belmont Park, but it helps to have a jockey who is familiar with the unique dimensions of the massive oval aboard.