What to know about the 2021 Belmont Stakes: Post time, horses, TV schedule, live stream, date

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The Belmont Stakes returns to early June and closes out a dramatic 2021 Triple Crown, only on NBC Sports.

The 153rd Belmont Stakes airs on Saturday, June 5 from 3-5 p.m. ET on NBCSN and from 5-7 p.m. on NBC. Coverage is also available on NBCSports.com and on the NBC Sports app. NBC Sports will also broadcast from Belmont Park on Friday, June 4 from 5-6 p.m. ET with live racing, insider previews and expert betting tips.

Related: Belmont Stakes 2021 post positions and early odds

What started as a much-anticipated return to normal on the First Saturday in May turned into controversy when, eight days after the 147th Kentucky Derby, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert announced his Derby winner Medina Spirit had failed a post-race drug test. The Florida-born colt tested positive for 21 picograms of the steroid betamethasone, which was later revealed to be from a topical ointment called Otomax used to treat dermatitis on his hind end.

Churchill Downs immediately suspended him from running any horses at the track, and the Stronach Group and the Maryland Jockey Club set terms, including vigorous drug testing, for Baffert in order to run Medina Spirit in the Preakness the following Saturday.

On Saturday, May 15 in Maryland, Michael McCarthy‘s under-the-radar runner Rombauer romped past favorites Medina Spirit and Midnight Bourbon to win the 146th Preakness Stakes.

The New York Racing Association has banned Baffert, pending further investigation into Medina Spirit’s post-Derby drug test.

Just days before the 2021 Belmont Stakes on June 2, Medina Spirit’s positive drug test was confirmed, and Churchill Downs issued a two-year suspension for Baffert. The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission could disqualify Medina Spirit, elevating second-place finisher Mandaloun to first.

At least 11,000 fans are expected to attend the Belmont Stakes. Social distancing will be mandatory, and spectators must be vaccinated or test negative for COVID-19.

What is the Belmont Stakes?

The Belmont Stakes is traditionally the last leg of the American Triple Crown of horse racing. Like the Derby and the Preakness, it’s a Grade I Thoroughbred stakes races. The Belmont Stakes is 1 1/2 miles, or 12 furlongs, which makes it the longest race in the Triple Crown.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Belmont Stakes was the first Triple Crown race run and was moved back from Saturday, June 6 to Saturday, June 20, and the race was shortened to 1 1/8-miles (9 furlongs) “to properly account for the schedule adjustments to the Triple Crown series and overall calendar for 3-year-olds in training,” the New York Racing Association said in a statement.

The Belmont is run on the dirt track (also known as “Big Sandy”) at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York. It was first raced in 1867, making it the oldest jewel in the Triple Crown (and the fourth oldest race in North America). However, the race wasn’t run in 1911 or 1912, which is why the Kentucky Derby is still the longest continuous sporting event in the country. The Belmont always been run in or around New York City, having raced at Jerome Park (now closed), Morris Park (also closed) and Aqueduct in addition to Belmont, which is just east of Queens.

Aside from being the last hurdle for Triple Crown contenders, the Belmont is known for Secretariat’s 31-length victory in 1973, which sealed his Triple Crown title and set the current world record at 2:24 for 1 1/2 miles on dirt.

When is the 2021 Belmont Stakes?

The 153rd Belmont Stakes is on Saturday, June 5. NBC Sports will broadcast live from Belmont Park on June 5 from 3-5 p.m. ET on NBCSN and from 5-7 p.m. on NBC. Post time is set for approximately 6:49 p.m.

How can I watch the 2021 Belmont Stakes?

NBC is home to the 153rd Belmont Stakes, providing comprehensive race coverage and analysis live before, during and after the main event. Get started with NBCSN on Friday, June 4 from 5 to 6 p.m. ET. NBCSN coverage continues on Saturday, June 5 at 3 p.m. before moving to NBC at 5 p.m. All coverage is available on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app as well.

Who are the horses to watch in the Belmont?

  • Preakness champ Rombauer could keep the good times rolling two weeks after he earned trainer Michael McCarthy his first career Triple Crown win. He will be without Preakness jockey Flavien Prat (who heads back to his Derby mount Hot Rod Charlie), but two-time Belmont winner (filly Rags to Riches in 2007 and Union Rags 2012) John Velazquez will have the ride.
  • Essential Quality, the 2-1 morning-line favorite, looks to right his reputation after an underwhelming fourth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby, where he was also the favorite. This will be trainer Brad Cox’s Belmont Debut. Jockey Luis Saez could earn his first Triple Crown win after he finished first in the 2019 Kentucky Derby aboard Maximum Security before being disqualified for interference.
  • Feel-good Wood Memorial upset winner Bourbonic is back in the Triple Crown after finishing 13th in the Kentucky Derby and skipping the Preakness. Jockey Kendrick Carmouche makes his debut in the final leg of the Triple Crown, while trainer Todd Pletcher seeks his fourth Belmont win (Rags to Riches in 2007, Palace Malice in 2013, Tapwrit in 2017). Bourbonic could become the third Belmont winner for Calumet Farm, which boasts Triple Crown winners Whirlaway (1941) and Citation (1948). The farm has yet to have a horse win any leg of the Triple Crown since Brad Kelley took ownership in 2012.
  • Hot Rod Charlie finished a strong third in the Kentucky Derby a month ago for trainer Doug O’Neill and his nephew Patrick O’Neill, who is part owner through Boat Racing. He previously won the Louisiana Derby in March and rocked the 2020 Breeders’ Cup when he took second in the Juvenile at a whopping 94-1.
  • Longshot France Go de Ina (30-1) has a chance at history—a win in the 2021 Belmont would make him the first Japan-based horse to win the race, which would come with a $1 million bonus from the New York Racing Association (NYRA). The last foreign winner of the Belmont came in 1990, when Ireland-based Go and Go took first. His trainer Hideyuki Mori became the first Japanese trainer to train a Derby horse when he ran Ski Captain in 1995.

What is unique about the Belmont Stakes?

The Belmont is the final test for horses seeking a Triple Crown title. Horses have an additional week of rest between races as opposed to the Preakness, but the Belmont is also the longest race of the three.

Belmont Park is only a few miles away from New York City, and city dwellers can just hop on the Long Island Rail Road for a day at the races. In non-COVID years, the annual Belmont Festival features several days packed with racing and other events.

Who won the 2020 Belmont Stakes?

Barclay Tagg’s Tiz the Law kicked off a scrambled 2020 Triple Crown by becoming the first New York-bred horse to win the Belmont Stakes since Forester in 1882. Ownership group Sackatoga Stable previously partnered with Tagg to field unlikely 2003 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Funny Cide. Tiz the Law went on to win the Travers Stakes at Saratoga in convincing fashion. He headed south to Churchill Downs as the favorite in the 146th Kentucky Derby but fell short behind eventual Horse of the Year Authentic. After finishing sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, he was retired to stud at Ashford Stud, Coolmore’s stateside breeding operation.

Watch the 153rd Belmont Stakes on Saturday, June 5 from 3 to 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN and from 5 to 7 p.m. on NBC. Coverage is also available on NBCSports.com and on the NBC Sports app.

Breeders’ Cup spots on the line this weekend, top trainers hold keys to 2-year-old tests

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Sometimes, in assessing stakes races, it is best to look at the history of the race and see if there is a dominant factor in that history. This weekend’s racing features both the Champagne Stakes and the Miss Grillo Stakes, two Win and You’re In races for the Breeders’ Cup (coverage begins Saturday at 4 pm ET on NBC). For both races, you need to look no further than the “winning trainer” column, which provides some unavoidable facts:

  1. Since 2004, Todd Pletcher has won the Champagne Stakes a record-setting six times.
  2. In recent times, Chad Brown has asserted himself in this race, winning 3 of the last 6 runnings.
  3. In the 14 runnings of the Miss Grillo since 2008, Chad Brown has been the winning trainer 8 times.

All observations and handicapping of these two races must begin with these facts. Is there something that makes horses from these barns better than others? Not necessarily. But history tells us that these two barns have high-quality and expensive horses and they tend to get them to peak at this time of year. You can try to beat them at the betting windows, but be aware of the history that you are running into.

Further research brought up some interesting notes about these two races and their Breeders’ Cup divisions.

First, a look at the 2-year-old colt division. Since 2004 (when Todd Pletcher won the first of his 6 Champagne Stakes), three 2-year-olds have won the Champagne, the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and the 2-year-old Eclipse Award. They were War Pass (2007), Uncle Mo (2010) and Shanghai Bobby (2012).  Pletcher trained Uncle Mo and Shanghai Bobby, and Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito handled War Pass.

RELATED: Kentucky Derby modifies qualifying, elevates prep races

Looking at the 2-year-old turf fillies, the dominance of Chad Brown is even more striking. Since 2008, when Chad Brown captured his first Miss Grillo and the first running of Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, four 2-year-old fillies have captured the Miss Grillo and the Juvenile Fillies Turf. They were Maram (2008), Lady Eli (2014), New Money Honey (2016) and Newspaperofrecord (2018). All four fillies were trained by Chad Brown.

A review of charts from the Champagne back to 2004 (the year of Todd Pletcher’s first winner in the race) reveals that he had 20 starters, with 6 wins, 3 seconds and 1 third. That means he has won 30% of the time and been in the money 50%.

A review of the charts from the Miss Grillo dating back to 2008 (Chad Brown’s first winner in the race) shows that he has had 23 starters, with 8 wins, 1 second and 4 thirds. That means he has won approximately 35% of the time and been in the money 56%.

RELATED: Olympiad cruises to Jockey Club Gold Cup victory

Storylines to Watch for 2022 Champagne Stakes

So, what does this mean for this year’s editions of these two “Win and You’re In” races for the 2022 Breeders’ Cup?

In the Champagne, it seems that the dominant trainers in the sport are putting forth the major contenders.

  • 2021 Eclipse Award-winning trainer Brad Cox is likely to start Verifying, who was a solid winner at Saratoga as a big favorite in his only career start.
  • The sport’s all-time winningest North American trainer is Steve Asmussen, who is rapidly closing in on 10,000 career wins. Asmussen, who won this race in 2020 with Jackie’s Warrior, will send out Gulfport, a very impressive son of Uncle Mo. Gulfport won his first two races by an average winning margin of almost 10 lengths. Then, he had some real misfortune in his next two starts, finishing 2nd in both races at Saratoga. In the Saratoga Special, he had major traffic problems that led to losing several lengths at the top of the stretch. As the favorite in the Hopeful, he endured a wide trip on a sloppy surface to be 2nd best again. With a clean trip, he will be a major contender in the Champagne.
  • As previously stated, Chad Brown has won the Champagne in 3 of its last 6 runnings. He is likely to enter Blazing Sevens, who is a son of Good Magic, the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner. After a big win in the first race of his career at Saratoga, Blazing Sevens endured a wide trip on a sloppy track in the Hopeful Stakes, and he should improve here, especially on a fast track.
  • The horse who beat Gulfport in the Hopeful was Forte, trained by the 6-time winner of this race, Todd Pletcher. The stretchout to a one-turn mile in the Champagne would have seemed to be made to order for his closing kick. At entry time, Pletcher chose to not enter Forte in the Champagne Stakes, in all likelihood because he plans to enter the horse in the Breeders’ Futurity next Saturday at Keeneland. The Breeders’ Futurity is a Win and You’re In race for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, and can be seen on CNBC.

RELATED: Taiba wins $1 million Pennsylvania Derby for Baffert

Storylines to Watch for 2022 Miss Grillo Stakes

Moving on to the Miss Grillo, Chad Brown is likely to enter Free Look, who was an impressive late-closing winner of a Maiden race in her second career start. In her first start, she was a victim of a slow pace, and the best she could do from the back of the pack was close to be 3rd. She seems to be a horse who is likely to improve with more racing. Free Look is a daughter of the leading sire Tapit.

Two others to watch in the Miss Grillo are Be Your Best and Pleasant Passage. Be Your Best is undefeated in two starts for trainer Horacio DePaz. Her last start was the P.G. Johnson Stakes, and she displayed the stalking style that has led to wins in both of her starts. Another with a license to improve is Pleasant Passage, from the barn of legendary trainer Shug McGaughey. In her only career start, she rallied up the rail and endured a stretch battle to get up for a narrow win. She has outstanding grass breeding, and the experience of that win should work in her favor in this race.

It is hard to predict outcomes with lightly-raced 2-year-olds. What we do know is that two horses will win their way into two Breeders’ Cup races on Saturday. That’s the great thing about these “Win and You’re In” races… they are running for something other than purse money, and it often produces some outstanding outcomes.

Lookahead to 2022 Breeders’ Cup

These races lead up to two of the 14 championship races on November 4th and 5th. For those who have never watched an entire Breeders’ Cup, get ready for the rush of witnessing a world championship event every 35 minutes or so. It’s like the Olympics of our sport. Be ready to watch and wager, and you’re sure to come away with some great memories. If you pick some winners, you might come away with a nice profit, as well. The Breeders’ Cup…there’s nothing like it!

Pegasus on Jan. 28, Florida Derby on April 1 at Gulfstream

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. — Gulfstream Park announced the schedule for the 2022-23 Championship Meet, highlighted by the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational on Jan. 28.

Also on Pegasus day: The $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational, as well as the $500,000 Pegasus World Cup Filly & Mare Turf.

Gulfstream’s top Kentucky Derby prep race, the $1 million Florida Derby, will be run on April 1 as part of a card with 10 stakes races. Other top 3-year-old preps at Gulfstream in early 2023 include the $150,000 Mucho Macho Man on Jan. 1, the $250,000 Holy Bull on Feb. 4 and the $400,000 Fountain of Youth on March 4.

The Pegasus is returning for a seventh time. The format has changed several times in the race’s infancy; the purse structure for the Pegasus World Cup no longer requires owners to put up $1 million apiece for a spot in the starting gate for what was, at its inception, the world’s richest race with a purse that reached $16 million.

This much has remained constant: Winning the Pegasus changes a horse’s resume. No Pegasus winner has ever finished worse than sixth in the yearlong earnings among North American horses, and two past winners – Arrogate and Gun Runner – are two of the three highest-earning thoroughbreds in U.S. history.

Gulfstream’s Championship Meet runs from Dec. 26 through April 2, featuring 60 stakes races, 35 of them graded, and worth a combined $13.6 million.