Grade 1 Belmont Derby trends and field analysis

July 4th, 2024

The 75th running of the Belmont Derby (G1) will descend upon Belmont at the Big A on Saturday, July 6. The annual fixture of Belmont Park will temporarily relocate while the Elmont, New York track undergoes renovations and return to Aqueduct, which previously held the event in 1960, 1975-77, 1979-81, and 1987.

First run in 1929 as the Jamaica Handicap at Jamaica Race Course in Queens, the Belmont Derby was primarily contested at 1 1/8 miles before it was extended to 1 1/4 miles in 2014, when the race was renamed to its current designation. It has also been run at the distance of six furlongs (from 1929-53 and 1957-60), one mile (from 1975-94), and 1 1/16 miles (1996), and did not move to the turf until 1994. In 2024, the Belmont Derby will cover 1 3/16 miles at its temporary new home.

Five trainers are tied for the most wins in the Belmont Derby (R. Emmett Potts, Bert Mulholland, Shug McGaughey, Bill Mott, and Todd Pletcher), but only Mott and Pletcher achieved all three victories on the grass.

Two horses won the Belmont Derby three times — Overdrawn (1941, 1942, 1943) and Piet (1949, 1950, 1951) — when the competition was open to older horses, but it's now restricted to three-year-olds.

Ten-year trends in Belmont Derby

Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien is the sole repeat winner of the last decade (2016, 2021), while Jose Lezcano (2014, 2019) and Jose Ortiz (2017, 2023) are the only jockeys to win twice in that span.

Dating back to 2014, post-time favorites have reached the winner’s circle twice, in 2020 and 2021, and longshots have been fairly successful, with four winners sent off at odds of 10-1 or longer. The longest shot to win in the last decade was Classic Causeway at 26.75-1 in 2022, followed by Mr Speaker at 23.50-1 in 2014, and Henley’s Joy at 20.80-1 in 2019. Henley’s Joy also accomplished the fastest winning time at the 1 1/4-mile distance of the Belmont Derby, 1:58.29 in 2019.

Now that we've glanced at some of the recent Belmont Derby trends, let's look at each runner in the 2024 field.

HANSON: Belmont Derby attracts five; trio of Europeans take on She Feels Pretty in Belmont Oaks

Belmont Derby horse-by-horse analysis

Race 6, Belmont Derby (G1), 1 3/16 miles (turf), 3yos (3:08 p.m. ET)

#1 Legend of Time — The Sea the Stars colt got up late to win by a head in the 1 1/8-mile Pennine Ridge (G2) last out and earned an 80 Brisnet Speed figure. Two back, he was beaten to fifth as the favorite by today's race rival Trikari in the 1 1/16-mile American Turf (G2) and could step forward in his third start off the layoff for Charlie Appleby, a 38% winner in graded stakes. William Buick will regain the mount and has four wins from five previous starts, all overseas, with the three-year-old. Legend of Time is 5-for-7 lifetime on the turf, and Appleby has done well this meet, with two wins, a second, and a third from four starts at Belmont at the Big A.

#2 White Palomino — The son of Kitten's Joy will make his fourth career start for Chad Brown and nearly went gate to wire in the Pennine Ridge before he was nailed at the wire by Legend of Time. Brown is a 28% winner this meet, and he's 4-for-6 paired with rider Flavien Prat over the last 14 days. White Palomino's lone win came two back at today's distance in a $100K maiden special weight at Keeneland, where he clocked a career-best 85 BRIS figure.

#3 Royal Majesty — The late-running Frankel colt triumphed two back in a 1/16-mile allowance on Keeneland's turf with an 88 Brisnet figure, then jumped to graded stakes company and came home third in the Pennine Ridge. Bill Mott is a 22% winner in graded stakes but a 12% winner on the turf. Junior Alvarado will stay in the saddle and is winning at a 16% clip this meet.

#4 Trikari — By Oscar Performance, the colt is 3-for-6 lifetime with a neck second in a 7 1/2-furlong allowance optional claimer four back and a neck third in the Penn Mile (G3) last out. Graham Motion is 3-for-6 at Aqueduct and a 17% winner with shippers. John Velazquez, who's a 24% winner this meet, will pick up the mount for the first time since Trikari's debut. The three-year-old is a graded stakes winner on the turf and was a huge upset victor in the American Turf two back as a 47-1 longshot.

#5 Endlessly — Another Oscar Performance son, the Michael McCarthy trainee is 5-for-7 lifetime, with his two most recent victories coming on all-weather tracks. The Jeff Ruby (G3) hero was last seen finishing ninth in the Kentucky Derby (G1) and will return to turf, where he owns a 3-for-4 record. The late closer broke his maiden on debut in a one-mile turf event at Del Mar, then won two more at the distance before finishing eighth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) in November. Umberto Rispoli will retain the mount but has yet to race on the turf with Endlessly.