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


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 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, and the NBC Sports app. 

Forte works out, waits for Belmont Stakes clearance

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NEW YORK — Forte, the early Kentucky Derby favorite who was scratched on the day of the race, worked out in preparation for a possible start in the Belmont Stakes on June 10.

Under regular rider Irad Ortiz Jr., Forte worked five-eighths of a mile for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher. It was the colt’s second workout since being scratched from the Derby on May 6.

“It seems like he’s maintained his fitness level,” Pletcher said. “It seems like everything is in good order.”

Forte was placed on a mandatory 14-day veterinary list after being scratched from the Derby because of a bruised right front foot. In order to be removed from the list, the colt had to work in front of a state veterinarian and give a blood sample afterward, the results of which take five days.

“There’s protocols in place and we had to adhere to those and we’re happy that everything went smoothly,” Pletcher said. “We felt confident the horse was in good order or we wouldn’t have been out there twice in the last six days, but you still want to make sure everything went smoothly and we’re happy everything did go well.”

Pletcher said Kingsbarns, who finished 14th in the Kentucky Derby, will miss the Belmont. The colt is showing signs of colic, although he is fine, the trainer said.

Another Pletcher-trained horse, Prove Worthy, is under consideration for the Belmont. He also has Tapit Trice, who finished seventh in the Derby, being pointed toward the Belmont.

Judge grants Churchill Downs’ request for summary judgment to dismiss Bob Baffert’s lawsuit

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A federal judge has granted Churchill Downs’ motion for summary judgment that dismisses Bob Baffert’s claim the track breached due process by suspending the Hall of Fame trainer for two years.

Churchill Downs Inc. suspended Baffert in June 2021 after his now-deceased colt, Medina Spirit, failed a postrace drug test after crossing the finish line first in the 147th Kentucky Derby. The trainer’s request to lift the discipline was denied in February, keeping him out of the Derby for a second consecutive May.

U.S. District Court Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings ruled in a 12-page opinion issued Wednesday that Churchill Downs’ suspension of Baffert did not devalue his Kentucky trainer’s license. It cited his purse winnings exceeding $1 million at Keeneland in Lexington and stated that his argument “amounts to a false analogy that distorts caselaw.”

Jennings denied CDI’s motion to stay discovery as moot.

The decision comes less than a week after Baffert-trained colt National Treasure won the Preakness in his first Triple Crown race in two years. His record eighth win in the second jewel of the Triple Crown came hours after another of his horses, Havnameltdown, was euthanized following an injury at Pimlico.

Churchill Downs said in a statement that it was pleased with the court’s favorable ruling as in Baffert’s other cases.

It added, “While he may choose to file baseless appeals, this completes the seemingly endless, arduous and unnecessary litigation proceedings instigated by Mr. Baffert.”

Baffert’s suspension is scheduled to end on June 2, but the track’s release noted its right to extend it “and will communicate our decision” at its conclusion.