Twelve things to know about the 2020 Belmont Stakes, Triple Crown

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With a new distance and a new place on the calendar, this year’s Belmont Stakes on Saturday, June 20 is unlike any other. A compact field of nine, highlighted by Tiz the Law, is expected for the historic race.

NBC is home to the 152nd Belmont Stakes, providing comprehensive race coverage and analysis live on TV and NBCSports.com before, during and after the main event. Coverage runs from 2:45 p.m. to 6 p.m. on NBC, just hours after NBC’s coverage of the final day of the Royal Ascot in England. See the broadcast schedule here.

Read on for 12 things to know about Saturday’s Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park.

1. This year is the first time ever that the Belmont will precede both the Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve and the Preakness Stakes. The Derby will be run Sept. 5 and the Preakness on Oct. 3.

2. The Belmont Stakes has been won by the betting favorite just three times in the last 15 years, and two were Triple Crown winners: Justify (2018), American Pharoah (2015), and Afleet Alex (2005). Historically, favorites fare a little better with 63 wins in 151 editions, good for a 42% win rate.

3. The Belmont Stakes is the shortest of the three Triple Crown races this year. While usually the longest of the three at 1 ½ miles, the Belmont has been shortened to 1 1/8 miles for 2020 since 3-year-olds haven’t been able to build stamina with the customary racing calendar this spring.

4. The race has been run at four different tracks, all in New York. The Belmont Stakes was inaugurated in 1867 at Jerome Park, moved to Morris Park in 1890, and then was held at Belmont Park when that track opened in 1905. From 1963 to 1967, the Belmont Stakes was held at Aqueduct while Belmont Park was rebuilt.

5. No woman has trained a winner of the Belmont Stakes. That could change this year if Max Player is victorious for Linda Rice.

6. The Belmont has been decided by the slimmest of margins, a nose, on four occasions: when Creator edged Destin in 2016, Victory Gallop denied Real Quiet the Triple Crown in 1998, when Jaipur defeated Admiral’s Voyage in 1962, and when Granville beat Mr. Bones in 1936.

7. Triple Crown winners own the two largest winning margins in the BelmontSecretariat won by 31 lengths in 1973 and Count Fleet won by 25 lengths 30 years prior.

8. Last year a grand total of $102,163,280 was wagered on Belmont day races, including more than $90 million wagered off-site. This year even fewer dollars will be bet on-track as there will be a very limited number of people present and no fans.

9. Trainer Todd Pletcher has more wins in the Belmont than any other conditioner in this year’s race, with three: filly Rags to Riches (2007), Palace Malice (2013), and Tapwrit (2017). This year he has two chances to add to his total with Dr Post and Farmington Road expected for the race.

10. This year’s Belmont Stakes is worth $1 million, with $535,000 of that reserved for the winner. Ruthless, the winner of the first-ever Belmont Stakes took home $1,850 of a total purse of $2,500.

11. Thirteen Belmont winners later sired (fathered) at least one Belmont victor, most recently 2004 winner Birdstone when his son Summer Bird won in 2009.

12. Just three horses born in New York have won their state’s biggest race, and none since Forester in 1882. Tiz the Law will attempt to become the fourth on Saturday. His trainer Barclay Tagg and owner Sackatoga Stable unsuccessfully attempted to win the Belmont Stakes in 2003 with Triple Crown hopeful Funny Cide, another New York-bred.

Watch the 2020 Belmont Stakes on Saturday, June 20 from 2:45 p.m. to 6 p.m. ET on NBC, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app. 

Pegasus races planned for Gulfstream and Santa Anita in 2024

Horse racing on Opening day of the winter-spring meet at Santa Anita Park.
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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – After seven Pegasus World Cup events, it’s evidently time for change.

1/ST Racing, which has hosted the entirety of the Pegasus series to this point at Gulfstream Park, is planning for two Pegasus days in 2024 – one at Gulfstream and the other at Santa Anita. Details aren’t finalized and it’s unclear how it would fit in the racing calendar, but 1/ST is planning for both dirt and turf Pegasus races as part of the Santa Anita program.

Gulfstream played host to the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational on the dirt Saturday, along with the $1 million Pegasus Turf and the $500,000 Pegasus Filly and Mare Turf.

“I’d really love to see that we bring it to the West Coast,” 1/ST President and CEO Belinda Stronach said. “That will probably happen in 2024. What we did this year for 2023 was said, `OK, we have a number of great race days, let’s coordinate those better and call it the 1/ST Racing Tour and recognize great achievements within our own footprint.”

Saturday marked the first stop on that new 1/ST Racing Tour. Along with some of the biggest race days at 1/ST tracks – like Florida Derby day at Gulfstream on April 1, Santa Anita Derby day on April 8 and the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico on May 20 – there are a pair of days where the tour will be running simultaneously.

This coming Saturday, Gulfstream will play host to the Holy Bull while Santa Anita has the Robert B. Lewis – both of them Kentucky Derby prep races.

And on March 4, Gulfstream has the Fountain of Youth, another major Derby prep, while San Anita has the Big Cap. Plans call for coordinated post times at those two tracks on those days to provide the best racing action every 20 minutes, as well as some unique betting options.

“We can never rest on our laurels,” Stronach said. “We have to keep moving forward. We have a great team that’s really committed.”

The main Pegasus race is one of the biggest-paying races in North America. Art Collector claimed about $1.8 million from a $3 million purse with his win on Saturday. In 2022, only the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic and $4 million Breeders’ Cup Turf featured bigger prizes among U.S. races, and the $3 million Pegasus purse is equal to the one offered last year at the Kentucky Derby.

Regardless of what happens with the Santa Anita plan for future Pegasus events, Stronach insisted Gulfstream will continue having Pegasus days. There has even been talk about Gulfstream playing host to Breeders’ Cup races again, something that hasn’t happened since 1999.

“This is staying here in Miami,” Stronach said. “Pegasus has a home here in Miami. We can’t move Pegasus from Miami. We have great partners here and it’s more than just a day now. We have deep roots here in Miami.”

Arabian Knight earns Baffert record 6th win in Southwest

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HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Arabian Knight won the $750,000 Southwest Stakes by 5 1/2 lengths at Oaklawn, giving Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert his record sixth victory in the race.

The colt came into the Kentucky Derby prep as one of the most highly touted 3-year-olds in the country. Arabian Knight, who was purchased for $2.3 million as a 2-year-old, was making his second career start and first on a sloppy track in front of 27,000 fans in Arkansas.

“These good horses are hard to come by,” said Baffert, who was on hand in Hot Springs. “We’ve had a lot of luck here at Oaklawn, so it was nice to have a horse like this.”

However, Arabian Knight was ineligible to earn the Kentucky Derby qualifying points awarded to the winner because Baffert has been suspended for two years by Churchill Downs Inc. The penalty, which ends shortly after this year’s Derby on May 6, stems from Medina Spirit’s medication violation after the colt won the 2021 Derby and was later disqualified. Baffert is challenging the ban in court.

Ridden by John Velazquez, Arabian Knight ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:43.50 and paid $2.80 to win. He is 2-0 and has career earnings of $544,275.

“He ran 1:43 and change, that’s racehorse time and he did it without taking a deep breath,” Baffert said. “This was a big effort.”

Red Route One closed from last to finish second, and Frosted Departure was third. Sun Thunder was fourth, followed by Jace’s Road, Corona Bolt, El Tomate and Western Ghent.

At Gulfstream in Florida, Baffert’s entry Defunded finished second in the $3 million Pegasus World Cup, beaten by 4 1/2 lengths by Art Collector on Saturday.