The historic Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park dates to 1867. The majority of its editions have taken place over the testing distance of 1 1/2 miles, challenging talented 3-year-old Thoroughbreds to stretch their speed over an extended distance in the final leg of the Triple Crown.
Through the years, only nine horses have managed to win a 1 1/2-mile Belmont in less than 2:27. Here are the members of this small and elite club:
9. Tabasco Cat (1994): 2:26.82
Fresh off upsetting Kentucky Derby winner Go for Gin by three-quarters of a length in the Preakness, Tabasco Cat managed to maintain his supremacy in the Belmont. After tracking Go for Gin for the opening 1 1/4 miles, Tabasco Cat rallied to win going away by two lengths in 2:26.82.
8. Affirmed (1978): 2:26.80
An epic duel with longtime rival Alydar pushed Triple Crown winner Affirmed to a rapid winning time in the Belmont Stakes. By running the final quarter-mile in 25.2 seconds, Affirmed tenaciously prevailed by a head in 2:26.80, which at the time ranked as the third-fastest Belmont in history.
7. American Pharoah (2015): 2:26.65
After 37 years without a Triple Crown winner, American Pharoah ended the Triple Crown drought with an impressively rhythmic Belmont victory. By running every quarter-mile between 24.06 and 24.77 seconds, American Pharoah barreled to the finish line clear by 5 1/2 lengths in 2:26.85, becoming the most recent horse to shade the 2:27 barrier.
6. Gallant Man (1957): 2:26.60
Gallant Man’s stablemate Bold Nero set the stage for a fast time in the Belmont, serving as a rabbit who pushed race favorite Bold Ruler through fast fractions of 46.8 seconds and 1:10.6. Bold Ruler led for the first 1 1/4 miles, but then Gallant Man came sweeping past to dominate by eight lengths in 2:26.60, which ranked as a U.S. record at the time.
5. Point Given (2001): 2:26.56
A strong middle move and a sustained drive down the homestretch carried Point Given to one of the most dominant Belmont victories of the 21st century. The future Horse of the Year drew off powerfully down the homestretch to win by 12 1/4 lengths in 2:26.56, one of the five fastest times in history.
4. Risen Star (1988): 2:26.40
Third in the Kentucky Derby and victorious in the Preakness, Risen Star continued his impressive rise through the Triple Crown ranks with a blowout victory in the Belmont. After tracking the early pace set by Kentucky Derby winner Winning Colors, Risen Star seized command and roared away to win by 14 3/4 lengths in 2:26.4, which ranked as the second-fastest clocking at the time. (Watch the video here.)
3. A.P. Indy (1992): 2:26.13
Racing over a good track, future superstar stallion A.P. Indy secured his signature victory in determined fashion. A perfectly timed rally allowed A.P. Indy to wear down Pine Bluff and hold off My Memoirs to win by three-quarters of a length in 2:26.13, a brilliant time highlighted by a quick final half-mile in 49.77 seconds that indicated A.P. Indy’s abundant stamina.
2. Easy Goer (1989): 2:26
After finishing second to Sunday Silence in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, Easy Goer managed to turn the tables in the Belmont. A strong surge around the far turn allowed Easy Goer to cruise past his rival and ultimately draw clear to win by eight lengths in 2:26, the second-fastest Belmont ever.
1. Secretariat (1973): 2:24
Legendary Triple Crown winner Secretariat owns the fastest-ever clockings in the Derby, Preakness and Belmont, and his Belmont victory ranks as one for the ages. Blazing early fractions of 23.6, 46.2 and 1:09.8 would have tired out most horses, but Secretariat kept going to win by a staggering 31 lengths in 2:24, setting track, stakes and U.S. records that stand unmatched to this day.
Do you think we’ll see a sub-2:27 clocking in the 2022 Belmont?