Belmont Stakes trends and 2024 field analysis

June 5th, 2024

The 156th running of the Belmont S. (G1), the third leg of the American Triple Crown, will break tradition on Saturday, June 8, when it’s run at 1 1/4 miles at Saratoga Racecourse.

Known as the “Test of the Champion,” the Belmont was first hosted on June 19, 1867, at Jerome Park Racetrack in the Bronx but is traditionally held at the distance of 1 1/2 miles on Belmont Park’s main track in Elmont, New York. Because of ongoing construction at the historic racetrack, the 2024 Belmont S. will be held at Saratoga and shortened to 1 1/4 miles as a result of the smaller size of Saratoga’s dirt track.

While the 2024 edition will buck tradition, this is not the first time the Belmont has been held at a distance shorter than 12 furlongs. The inaugural running was contested over 1 5/8 miles and remained at that distance until 1873. The Belmont has also been run at 1 1/8 miles (1893-1894, 2020); 1 3/8 miles (1896-1903, 1906-1910, and 1913-1925); and 1 1/4 miles (1890-1892, 1895, and 1904-1905). The race was not run from 1911-12 because of the Hart-Agnew Law.

The winningest trainer of the Belmont is James G. Rowe Sr., who won his first Belmont S. in 1883 and his eighth and final in 1913. Jim McLaughlin (1882, 1883, 1884, 1886, 1887, 1888) and Eddie Arcaro (1941, 1942, 1945, 1948, 1952, 1955) are tied for most victories by a jockey, with six.

Ten-year trends in Belmont S.

Dating back to 2014, Bob Baffert and Todd Pletcher are the only multiple-winning Belmont trainers, and Irad Ortiz Jr. and Joel Rosario have two wins apiece in the last decade.

The fastest winning time since 2014, excluding the 1 1/8-mile result in 2020, is 2:26.65 by Triple Crown winner American Pharoah. The overall fastest winning time in the Belmont at 1 1/2 miles is 2:24 flat by Secretariat in 1973. The fastest winning time in the Belmont at 1 1/4 miles is 2:06.60 by Delhi in 1904. 

Post-time favorites have crossed the wire first in five of the last 10 runnings. The longest shot of the last decade to win is 16.40-1 longshot Creator, who beat 8.40-1 choice Destin by a nose. The $2 exacta paid $269.

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

Belmont Stakes horse-by-horse analysis

Race 12, Belmont S. (G1), 1 1/4 miles, 3yos (6:41 p.m. ET) 

#1 Seize the Grey (8-1) — Preakness winner flashed a career-best 105 Brisnet Speed figure when going gate to wire in the 1 3/16-mile event. With the Belmont shortened to 1 1/4 miles, the Arrogate gray has a shot. Jaime Torres will retain the mount and has won two straight with the colt. D. Wayne Lukas is a 16% winner with horses that won their last race. In his two prior starts at the Spa, Seize the Grey broke his maiden racing 6 1/2 furlongs over a sloppy track, then came home third over a muddy track in the 5 1/2-furlong Skidmore.

#2 Resilience (10-1) — Into Mischief colt won two back in the 1 1/8-mile Wood Memorial (G2), then finished sixth by 7 3/4 lengths in the Kentucky Derby (G1). Bill Mott is a 22% winner in graded stakes, and Junior Alvarado will retain the mount. He recorded a sharp four-furlong workout June 2 at Saratoga, but Resilience’s lone previous start at Saratoga was a distant sixth in his career debut while racing a mile.

#3 Mystik Dan (5-1) — The surprise Kentucky Derby winner came home second to Seize the Grey by 2 1/4 lengths in the Preakness when sent off as the favorite and clocked a career-best 102 BRIS figure. The Goldencents colt will ship to New York for the first time, and he’ll keep regular rider Brian Hernandez Jr., a 21% winner with routes. Kenny McPeek is also a 21% winner with beaten favorites but an 11% winner overall in graded stakes.

#4 The Wine Steward (15-1) — The Vino Rosso colt won his first three starts, then finished second by less than a length in each of his last three. The Mike Maker trainee has yet to win at a route distance, and he’s stretching out farther today. Manny Franco will pick up the mount and is winning at a 25% clip when paired with Maker over the last 60 days. This three-year-old may improve third start off the layoff but speed figures are light compared to other rivals. 

#5 Antiquarian (12-1) — The Peter Pan (G3) winner is one of three for Todd Pletcher in the field. By Preservationist, the lightly raced colt will make his fifth career start and will keep regular rider John Velazquez in the saddle. His lone previous try near today’s distance resulted in a four-length sixth in the Louisiana Derby (G2). Raced well in the mud when breaking his maiden at Fair Grounds and may get similar track conditions here.

#6 Dornoch (15-1) — Full-brother to last year’s Kentucky Derby winner Mage, the Good Magic three-year-old finished 10th of 20 in the Kentucky Derby and was last seen in the winner’s circle three starts back in the 1/16-mile Fountain of Youth (G2), where he faced just four rivals. Danny Gargan is a 19% winner with shippers, and Luis Saez will retain the mount. Sharp four-furlong workout June 1 at Saratoga.

#7 Protective (20-1) — Another from Todd Pletcher’s barn, the Medaglia d’Oro colt is still a maiden after four starts but has achieved third-place finishes in the Wood Memorial and the Peter Pan. Late runner will pick up Tyler Gaffalione and may improve with the added distance.

#8 Honor Marie (12-1) — Deep closer had a troubled trip in the Kentucky Derby and came home eighth in the first leg of the Triple Crown. He rallied late to finish a length second to Catching Freedom two back in the Louisiana Derby, and he posted a triple-digit Late Pace rating four back in his most recent win, the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) in November of 2023. Florent Geroux will pick up the mount and strikes at a 23% rate with routes. Whit Beckman will get his first Belmont starter here and has one win from 18 graded stakes starts.

#9 Sierra Leone (9-5) — The $2.3 million yearling purchase is 3-for-5 for his career, with both losses coming by a nose, including in his most recent start, the Kentucky Derby. Trainer Chad Brown is a 25% winner with shippers and a 21% winner in graded stakes. Flavien Prat will pick up the mount and is 4-for-16 paired with Brown over the last two months.

#10 Mindframe (7-2) — Making just his third career start for Pletcher, the Constitution colt is the second choice on the morning line after winning by a combined 20 1/2 lengths in his first two starts. Owned by Repole Stable and St. Elias Stables, Mindframe romped to a 13-length win on debut at Gulfstream Park on March 30, then won an allowance optional claimer by 7 1/2 lengths at Churchill on May 4. He’ll keep rider Irad Ortiz Jr., who last won the Belmont aboard the Pletcher-trained Mo Donegal.