Horse Racing

Where Is the Belmont Stakes? This Year's Location and the Race's History

FanDuel Staff
FanDuel Staff
Where Is the Belmont Stakes? This Year's Location and the Race's History

Even though the Belmont Stakes has become the flagship race at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York, the race has been run at multiple venues around the state of New York, mostly in or near New York City.

However, that will change for 2024 and 2025. The New York Racing Association is rebuilding Belmont, meaning they cannot race at the track. So, for these two years, the Belmont Stakes will be run upstate at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York.

But, did you know that this is not the first time the Belmont has been run somewhere other than its namesake racetrack? Let's learn the history of the tracks that have hosted the Belmont Stakes over the years.

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Belmont Stakes Venue History

Though it is now a mid-June feature and the final leg of the series, the Belmont Stakes predates the concept of an American Triple Crown of Thoroughbred racing. In fact, it is the oldest of the Triple Crown races. It was first run in 1867: six years before the first Preakness Stakes, eight years before the first Kentucky Derby, and 30 years before the opening of Belmont Park.

Jerome Park

Jerome Park was a racetrack that opened in 1866 in a section of Westchester County, New York, land that has since been annexed as part of the Bronx. The Belmont Stakes was first run the next year, in 1867. It makes sense that a feature race at Jerome would have taken its name from Thoroughbred owner and financier August Belmont, Sr.: after all, Belmont founded Jerome Park along with Leonard Walter Jerome, the grandfather of Winston Churchill.

That very first Belmont Stakes was won by the great filly Ruthless, still one of only three fillies to win the race. Other Hall of Fame inductees to win the Belmont Stakes during its Jerome Park days include Harry Bassett (1871), Duke of Magenta (1878), and Hanover (1887).

The last running of the Belmont Stakes at Jerome Park happened in 1889. The property was condemned by New York City in order to build the Jerome Park Reservoir, which was necessary to hold enough water to support the area’s burgeoning population.

Morris Park

The end of Jerome Park was not the end of the Belmont Stakes, however. Starting with the 1890 edition, it was contested at Morris Park. Like Jerome Park, Morris Park was on Westchester County land that is part of the present-day Bronx. The racetrack, opened in 1889 to cover for the planned closure of Jerome Park, hosted the Belmont Stakes from 1890 through 1904.

Morris Park has the distinction of being the only racetrack to host two of what are now considered the American Triple Crown races in the same year. In 1890, the Preakness and the Belmont were run on the same day.

The 1890 Preakness Stakes was the only time a race recognized as one of the American three-year-old classics allowed older horses: that race was a handicap for ages three and up. Four horses between ages four and eight ran, with five-year-old Montague prevailing in dominant fashion. The 1890 Belmont, run on the same day, was limited to sophomores and was won by Burlington.

Two horses who are now in the Hall of Fame won the Belmont Stakes during its Morris Park days: Henry of Navarre (1894) and Commando (1901).

Into the early 1900s, Morris Park became a less fashionable place for high society. Attendance was falling, and excitement was shifting to a new racetrack being built further down Long Island. The final edition of the Belmont Stakes at Morris Park was run in 1904.

Belmont Park

August Belmont, Jr., son of the co-founder of Jerome Park, co-founded Belmont with William C. Whitney, another scion of a New York family famous for its involvement in Thoroughbred racing. The track in Elmont, New York, which opened in 1905, has been one of America’s showpiece tracks for almost 120 years.

The first-ever edition of the Belmont Stakes at the new Belmont course turned out to be one of the most historically significant ones. In 1905, Tanya, who had been bred by William C. Whitney, became only the second filly to win the race.

Many of the horses synonymous with the Belmont Stakes and the Triple Crown raced here. All 13 Triple Crown champions, starting with Sir Barton in 1919 all the way through Justify in 2018, completed their sweeps at Belmont. Other highlights among Belmont winners at its longest-running home include the great Man O’ War (1920), fan favorite and important sire Northern Dancer (1953), modern-day super-sire A. P. Indy (1992), and the filly Rags to Riches (2007), who nosed out the great Curlin.

Belmont remains the traditional home of the Belmont Stakes. Even though it has occasionally been contested at other tracks during this phase of its history due to construction projects, the third jewel of the Triple Crown has always made it back home to the track that shares its name.

Aqueduct Racetrack

The brief stint of the Belmont Stakes in Saratoga Springs will not be its first move to another track due to renovations. From 1963 through 1967, during a rebuilding of the grandstand at Belmont, the third jewel of the Triple Crown was held at Aqueduct, in the heart of Queens.

One Hall of Fame inductee won the Belmont during its stint at Aqueduct: the great Damascus, who won in 1967. The first winner during the Aqueduct years, Chateaugay (1963), went on to be named three-year-old champion.

The Belmont Stakes returned to its traditional home at Belmont in 1968, when the facility had been rebuilt.

Saratoga Race Course

The 2024 Belmont Stakes will be the first edition of the race that will be held outside of the New York City metropolitan area. Though most of the racing at Belmont has been relocated to Aqueduct during the current grandstand renovation project, NYRA has moved the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival to Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs for 2024 and 2025. Instead of being near New York City, Saratoga Springs is upstate, about a 40-minute drive north of Albany.

Because of the configuration of the Saratoga dirt course, the Belmont Stakes cannot be run at its traditional 1 ½-mile distance in 2024 or 2025. Instead, the race will be contested at 1 ¼ miles, a distance the Saratoga dirt track can support without placing the starting gate on a turn.

The Belmont grandstand project is expected to be finished in time for the final race of the Triple Crown to move back south to its traditional Belmont Park home in 2026.

To see 2024 Belmont Stakes post positions and individual horse odds, read more at FanDuel Research.

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