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Breeders' Cup 2017

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A New York State of Racing

Belmont Stakes 2013 – the Winning Running Style

Union Rags Belmont 615 X 400
Photo: Eclipse Spotswire - Sue Kawczynski
As we approach the last leg of the Triple Crown, here is the final installment of the Winning Running Style blogs. As was the case with the Derby and the Preakness, there are misconceptions about how best to win Belmont Stakes 2013.
It would be very easy to think with the mile and a half distance, that closing running styles would be optimal in the Belmont, and as horses are unable to get the twelve furlongs that they fade and allow the closers to make dramatic runs to win the race.  However, that conclusion is far from accurate.
Of the three Triple Crown races, the Belmont is the leg in which the fewest closers have done well and in which the front-runners and stalkers/pressers have done best.  Since the year 2000, only one deep closer, Jazil, has won the race and the farthest he got behind was 11¾ lengths. Remember, in recent Kentucky Derbies horses have closed from more than 20 lengths behind. Five deep closers have won at Churchill Downs. In the Preakness there were only two deep closers.
Last year in the Belmont it seemed like Union Rags made a big run to win the race, but in fact the most he got behind was four lengths and with a quarter mile to go, he was only one length behind.
Secretariat’s campaign was the greatest example of how running style needs to change to suit each of the Triple Crown Races. Through most of his early races Big Red came from off the pace, and in the beginning of the Derby, he was about 10 lengths behind the leaders. In Baltimore Ron Turcotte had him much closer in the early stages of the Preakness, where he only fell back to fourth place. Secretariat’s run in the Belmont was legendary.  He was on the lead at every call, while setting an unprecedented pace and ultimately the world record time of 2:24.
Biographer Bill Nack described Secretariat’s tremendous performance, “Secretariat ran flat into legend, started running right out of the gate and never stopped, ran poor Sham into defeat around the first turn, and down the backstretch and sprinted clear, opening two lengths, four, then five.  He dashed to the three-quarter pole in 1:09 4/5, the fastest six-furlong clocking in Belmont history.”  
This year is the 40th anniversary of Secretariat’s Triple Crown, in which he displayed the perfect running styles for all three races. It is only appropriate that this series of blogs ends with the video of Big Red’s iconic Belmont victory. 


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Older Comments about Belmont Stakes 2013 – the Winning Running Style...

I do think the horses need a rider. Might be different if all of the races were on a staightaway. Then, even some of my favorites get a smack for at least a reminder.
What garbage? The only one that is associated with garbage on here is you. You would have to have 48 hour days to do what you supposedly do and know what you supposedly know. Your knowledge about Energy Distribution and handicapping models could probably fit on the head of a pin and there would still be room for your other worldly knowledge. There is only one place for crap and that’s in a toilet not on a blogging site. Go back to your humble adobe in the Jane Finch corridor.
mass adherence to dogma and not interpreting what happens in front of their eyes...Horses Run riders try to keep them out of trouble. the horse runms
Reminds me of Rail Trip, I think in his last New York race, and recently, Fort Larned in the mile Gulfstream race.
watched two jumpers in the 4th at Traemore. lose their riders, run the entire course, stay out of trouble running outside and go over all the jumps...Who was drirected those two? Not a rider..Horse did what it was TRAINED TO DO.
sight is to see, a site is a place is it not?
when garbage without substantiation is repeatedly throw up as fact, it is ashamed to leave it up without comment
Travel Vic, give your head a shake. Don’t continuously prove that you are a numbskull that is full of wind. The way you talk down to people who actually know what they are talking about is getting pathetic. NEWSFLASH. Every time you type a word you show how little you really are. It’s because of morons like you that a lot leave this sight. You can’t even tell when a horse wins a race because of pure talent when the jockey actually is along for the ride and yet you’ve been saying this ad nauseam for the past couple of weeks.
Dr. William Quirin showed that the front end was the place to be in the 1970's with his landmark boogk Winning at the Races; COmputer Discoveries in Thoroughbred Handicapping and was one of the co-founders of BRIS before it was called BRIS
one of two track records change, it is within reason superior conditions (pace set up) or really superior animals (like Secretariat) accomplished them, but that MANY in ONE YEAR? Doubtful....A good friend who never did like Secretariat pointed that out to me, I checked it out and it is true
He WANTED TO DO IT??? I love horses but they could not tell running for the feed tub as being any different than running in front of crowd of people, matter of fact, if they were really hungry the instinct for the former activity would be GREATER. As an aside, The track at belmont WAS souped up as over 18 track records were in the 74 American Racing Manual that were NOT in the 1973 edition...I can list them if you like.
According to the latest published world’s records for distances ranging from one mile and up, every distance has been run faster on turf than on dirt except for 1¾ miles. What this confirms is that Secretariat’s 12F time of 2.24 flat is one of the greatest records/achievements in any sport and is truly a testament to how great he really was because he was not being pushed, except by himself. In other words, he wanted to do it. It will take either a souped-up track running downhill or an even greater horse than Secretariat to break it. It is the benchmark, along with the Bid’s 10F 1.57 4/5, for classical distance dirt racing in our sport. As far as I know, Prove Out’s 2.25.80 in the 1973 Woodward is the second fastest 12F ever recorded on dirt. Easy Goer’s Belmont time of 2.26 flat is the second fastest Belmont ever behind Secretariat, better than A.P. Indy’s 2.26.15, or was it. They did not measure time in 100’s back then so it is possible that Easy Goer might have actually run the distance as slow as 2.26.19 as it is also possible that Prove Out might have run it as slow as 2.25.89 and Secretariat might have actually run it up to 2.24.19.
What we can determine is that in the majority of races on dirt, horses who are six lengths off the lead or less tend to do the best. All of these articles confirm that. If this is true because most horses are 6 lengths of less off the lea, I don't know
turf course and Suffolk's play very differently as far as final time tends to go, even when quality horses are given a blistering pace.
Andy -- No where in your article does it mention the dirt world record, just the world record. Prior to 1973 Kelso ran it in 2:23 and change, after Hawkster ran it in 2:22 in change and now Bright Thought and Twilight Eclipse have run it even faster. Where Secretariat's 2:24 fits, I can't tell you. As for how much racing surface matters in the scheme of a world record, I can tell you very little. Meydan
Andy, I think that Hawkster’s world turf record of 2.22 4/5 for 12F was broken twice this spring. On March 16 at Santa Anita, Bright Thought won the San Louis Rey in 2.22.72 (2.22 3/5), and the following week, on March 23, Twilight Eclipse broke that record in winning the 12F Pan American in 2.22.63 (2.22 3/5) at Gulfstream.
NOTHING like documented fact to throw a monkey wrench in opinion based fiction.
Sullivan -- According to the 2012 American Racing Manual, Secretariat still holds the WR for 12 furlongs on the dirt. Hawkster holds the turf record!
It amazes me that few understand the racing style SUSTAINED, but its very name it means STEADY maintenance of something, NOT a position that is far back early moves in the middle and takes over at the end...THAT takes pace relativity and the pace of each race changes while the energy most often does not.
9 furlong record was then Simply Majestic, GGF methinks

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Matt Shifman has been on the Horse Racing Nation staff since 2011 and currently serves as Assistant Editor. Matt covers Aqueduct, Belmont Park, Monmouth Park, and Saratoga in his two HRN blogs Racing at the Jersey Shore and New York State of Racing.


Matt’s articles and tweets frequently appear in the America’s Best Racing weekly Notebook. In 2012 he became a voter in the NTRA weekly polls for the Top Thoroughbred and Top Three-Year-Old.


The best way to get to know Matt is to check out some of his favorite articles from the past couple years.

• Preakness Interview with Trainer Todd Pletcher

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• A Kentucky Derby Field with Just 14 Horses

• What is the Best Kentucky Derby Running Style?



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