Belmont Stakes Prep Races & Qualification

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Last updated: June 10, 2023

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.