For the eighth time in the last nine years, the Belmont Stakes will be run without a Triple Crown at stake. Last year I’ll Have Another won both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, but was scratched the day prior to the race.
But even without a Triple Crown at stake, there are still plenty of reasons to watch the Belmont, on this the 40th anniversary of Secretariat’s 31-length win.
2 out of 3 ain’t bad
Orb is attempting to do what Thunder Gulch last did in 1995 -– win the Belmont Stakes and Kentucky Derby with a defeat in the Preakness Stakes sandwiched in between.
Won Kentucky Derby & Belmont
Finished Outside Top-3
in Preakness Stakes
Eleven horses have won the Derby, lost the Preakness and then rebounded to win the Belmont Stakes.
However only six Derby winners have finished off the board in the Preakness (outside of top-3) and then won the Belmont, with the last being Swale in 1984. Oxbow (6th in the Kentucky Derby) can become the 19th horse to lose the Derby, and then win the Preakness and Belmont.
Since 1950 it has happened nine times, and four times it was by a beaten Derby favorite (which Oxbow was not).
In the last 25 years, the Derby and Preakness winner have gone head-to-head in the Belmont Stakes seven times. And all six times the Preakness winner finished the Belmont, he finished in front of the Derby winner, winning the Belmont five of those instances. In 1993, Preakness winner Prairie Bayou did not finish the race. Derby winner Sea Hero finished seventh.
Rosie rides the filly
Rosie Napravnik will ride Todd Pletcher’s filly Unlimited Budget 20 years after Julie Krone became the first female jockey to win a Triple Crown race (aboard Colonial Affair in the 1993 Belmont Stakes). Coincidentally, Pletcher’s first Triple Crown win came in the 2007 Belmont Stakes with the filly Rags to Riches. Twenty three fillies have run in the Belmont and they have a record of three wins, one second and six third-place finishes.
Being the favorite hardly means a guaranteed victory. Only three times in the last 18 years has the favorite won the Belmont, with Afleet Alex being the last in 2005. In that same span, the Belmont favorite has finished eighth or worse six times. In the last three years, the favorite has been completely off the board, finishing seventh, sixth, and ninth in that span. Four of the last five Belmont winners have been at least 11-1. In fact, since 2004, only two winners have been shorter than 4-1.
Nine different horses?
In the Derby, Orb, Golden Soul and Revolutionary completed the trifecta. In the Preakness, Oxbow, Itsmyluckyday and Mylute ran 1-2-3. If none of Orb, Oxbow, Golden Soul and Revolutionary finish in the top-3, nine different horses will have finished in the money in this year's Triple Crown. The last time all nine “in-the-money” spots went to different horses was 1926.