Hot Rod Charlie ran fastest Belmont half since Secretariat

Hot Rod Charlie ran fastest Belmont half since Secretariat
Photo: Amira Chichakly/Eclipse Sportswire

Popping out of the gate and with jockey Flavien Prat pushing to stay ahead of Rock Your World and France Go De Ina, Hot Rod Charlie sizzled through fractions of 22.78 seconds for the first quarter-mile and 46.49 for the half-mile in the 2021 Belmont Stakes

How fast were those fractions? At the 1 1/2-mile distance, the half-mile time of 46.49 was the fastest since Secretariat clocked a half-mile in 46 1/5 in 1973 on his way to a record-setting 31-length Belmont victory. (Last year, the field hit the half-mile in 46.16 seconds in the 1 1/8-mile distance.)

And the quarter-mile time of 22.78 was the fastest opening quarter-mile ever recorded in Belmont Stakes history. The second-fastest opening quarter was 22 4/5, recorded in 1945. And both times were faster than 2020, which was 23.11 for the 1 1/8-mile distance.

Some handicappers already are saying that Hot Rod Charlie ran the best race in the Belmont, even though he lost to Essential Quality by 1 1/4 lengths. Horse Racing Nation handicapper Reinier Macatagay noted that "to put Hot Rod Charlie’s effort in perspective, his early pace opponent Rock Your World faded to sixth by 22 lengths, while France Go de Ina eased in last." He even went so far as to call Hot Rod Charlie the "star" of the race.

Historically, Hot Rod Charlie's half-mile of 46.49 was not only the second-fastest since Secretariat in 1973, but the second-fastest ever recorded in the Belmont Stakes.

After the race, trainer Doug O'Neill was effusive in his praise for Hot Rod Charlie.

"It was such a great stretch duel, and he ran against the 2-year champ," he said. "This may sound cocky but I wasn't that surprised when they went as fast as they did early, and he kept fighting on the inside. I knew Flavien (Prat) is so confident in this colt, and this colt is so confident in Flavien. He rode with a lot of confidence, and I wouldn't second-guess him, and I wouldn't do anything different. We just got beat by a better horse today.

"The heart this horse has in him is unbelievable. He's got so much try in him it's crazy." 

Other than the pandemic-shortened distance in 2020, the Belmont Stakes has been run at 1 1/2 miles since 1926. Prior to that it was run at 1 3/8 miles from 1906 to 1925. Here are the different distances at which the Belmont Stakes has been run:

  • 1867 - 1873 - 1 5/8 miles (Jerome Park)
  • 1874 - 1889 - 1 1/2 miles
  • 1890 - 1892 - 1 1/4 miles (Morris Park starting in 1890)
  • 1893 - 1894 - 1 1/8 miles
  • 1895 - 1 1/4 miles
  • 1896 - 1903 - 1 3/8 miles
  • 1904 - 1905 - 1 1/4 miles (Belmont Park starting in 1905)
  • 1906 - 1925 - 1 3/8 miles
  • 1926 - 2019 - 1 1/2 miles
  • 2020 - 1 1/8 miles
  • 2021 - 1 1/2 miles  

Below are the winners and split times for the 1 1/2-mile Belmont Stakes runnings since 1926:

YearHorseTrainer1/4 mile1/2 mile1 mileFinish
2021Essential QualityBrad Cox22.7846.491:37.402:27.11
2019Sir WinstonMark Casse23.9248.791:38.272:28.30
2018JustifyBob Baffert23.3748.111:38.092:28.18
2017TapwritTodd Pletcher23.8848.661:38.952:30.02
2016CreatorSteve Asmussen24.0948.481:37.962:28.51
2015American PharoahBob Baffert24.0648.831:37.992:26.65
2014TonalistChristophe Clement24.0648.521:37.132:28.52
2013Palace MaliceTodd Pletcher23.1146.661:36.472:30.70
2012Union RagsMichael R. Matz23.7249.231:38.852:30.42
2011Ruler On IceKelly J. Breen23.9249.081:39.952:30.88
2010DrosselmeyerWilliam I. Mott24.1549.191:40.252:31.57
2009Summer BirdTim A. Ice23.4147.131:37.862:27.54
2008Da' TaraNick Zito23.8248.301:37.962:29.65
2007Rags to RichesTodd Pletcher24.7450.141:40.232:28.74
2006JazilKiaran McLaughlin23.0247.361:37.532:27.86
2005Afleet AlexTim Ritchey24.4748.621:38.052:28.75
2004BirdstoneNick Zito24.3348.651:35.442:27.50
2003Empire MakerBobby Frankel23.8548.701:38.052:28.26
2002SaravaKenny McPeek24.1148.091:37.012:29.71
2001Point GivenBob Baffert23.9548.001:35.562:26.56
2000CommendableD. Wayne Lukas24.1249.291:39.112:31.19
1999Lemon Drop KidFlint Schulhofer23.7947.601:36.572:27.88
1998Victory GallopElliott Walden23.6048.611:37.532:29.16
1997Touch GoldDavid Hofmans23.7449.221:38.82:28.82
1996Editor's NoteD. Wayne Lukas23 2/546.951:35.872:28.96
1995Thunder GulchD. Wayne Lukas24.5650.221:40.172:32.02
1994Tabasco CatD. Wayne Lukas23.8047.531:35.482:26.82
1993Colonial AffairFlint Schulhofer24.1948.821:37.472:29.97
1992A.P. IndyNeil Drysdale 23.2647.171:36.362:26.13
1991HanselFrank Brothers23.0446.791:36.692:28.10
1990Go And GoDermot Weld23 2/5481:36 2/52:27 1/5
1989Easy GoerShug McGaughey23 1/5471:35 4/52:26
1988Risen StarLouie Roussel III23 2/547 1/51:36 2/52:26 2/5
1987Bet TwiceWarren Croll24 2/549 2/51:38 2/52:28 1/5
1986Danzig ConnectionWoody Stephens23 1/547 4/51:38 1/52:29 4/5
1985Creme FraicheWoody Stephens23 1/5471:35 1/52:27
1984SwaleWoody Stephens24 4/549 2/51:37 3/52:27 1/5
1983CaveatWoody Stephens23 2/547 2/51:36 2/52:27 4/5
1982Conquistador CieloWoody Stephens23 4/547 1/51:37 2/52:28 1/5
1981SummingLuis Barrera23 4/548 2/51:39 2/52:29
1980Temperence HillJoseph B. Cantey24 3/550 1/51:39 3/52:29 4/5
1979CoastalDavid A. Whiteley23 2/547 3/51:362:28 3/5
1978AffirmedLaz Barrera25501:37 2/52:26 4/5
1977Seattle SlewWilliam Turner Jr.24 3/548 2/51:38 4/52:29 3/5
1976Bold ForbesLaz Barrera23 4/5471:362:29
1975AvatarArthur T. Doyle23 4/5481:36 3/52:28 1/5
1974Little CurrentLou Rondinello24 4/549 3/51:39 1/52:29 1/5
1973SecretariatLucien Laurin23 3/546 1/51:34 1/52:24
1972Riva RidgeLucien Laurin23 4/5481:36 3/52:28
1971Pass CatcherEdward Yowell24 1/548 1/51:372:30 2/5
1970High EchelonJohn W. Jacobs2448 4/51:39 4/52:34
1969Arts And LettersElliott Burch25 2/5511:40 1/52:28 4/5
1968Stage Door JohnnyJohn M. Gaver24 1/548 2/51:372:27 1/5
1967DamascusFrank Whiteley Jr.23 2/5471:37 2/52:28 4/5
1966AmberoidLucien Laurin23 1/546 3/51:37 2/52:29 3/5
1965Hail To AllEdward Yowell23 2/547 3/51:382:28 2/5
1964QuadrangleE. Burch24 3/5491:39 2/52:28 2/5
1963ChateaugayJ. Conway24 1/549 2/51:39 3/52:30 1/5
1962JaipurW. Mulholland24 1/548 2/51:36 3/52:28 4/5
1961SherluckH. Young24 1/548 3/51:38 4/52:29 1/5
1960Celtic AshT. Barry24481:37 3/52:29 3/5
1959Sword DancerE. Burch23 2/546 3/51:372:28 2/5
1958CavanT. Barry23 4/548 2/51:39 1/52:30 1/5
1957Gallant ManJ. A. Nerud23 2/546 4/51:35 3/52:26 3/5
1956NeedlesH. Fontaine2447 2/51:36 3/52:29 4/5
1955NashuaJ. Fitzsimmons24 4/5491:38 2/52:29
1954High GunM. Hirsch24 1/5491:38 1/52:30 4/5
1953Native DancerW. Winfrey2550 1/51:39 2/52:28 3/5
1952One CountO. White23 4/548 3/5 2:30 1/5
1951CounterpointS. Veitch24 3/549 4/51:392:29
1950MiddlegroundM. Hirsch24 4/548 2/51:372:28 3/5
1949CapotJ. Gaver25 1/551 4/51:39 3/52:30 1/5
1948CitationH. Jones2448 2/51:372:28 1/5
1947PhalanxS. Veitch24 3/5501:39 4/52:29 2/5
1946AssaultM. Hirsch24 4/549 3/51:39 2/52:30 4/5
1945PavotO. White22 4/5471:38 1/52:30 1/5
1944Bounding HomeM. Brady23 1/5481:392:32 1/5
1943Count FleetG. Cameron23 3/5481:37 4/52:28 1/5
1942Shut OutJ. Gaver23 2/548 1/51:37 1/52:29 1/5
1941WhirlawayB. Jones25 2/549 4/51:39 1/52:31
1940BimelechW. Hurley2448 2/51:38 1/52:29 3/5
1939JohnstownJ. Fitzsimmons23 3/548 1/51:37 1/52:29 3/5
1938PasteurizedG. Odom24 1/549 4/51:38 2/52:29 2/5
1937War AdmiralG. Conway24481:37 1/52:28 3/5
1936GranvilleJ. Fitzsimmons24 3/549 3/51:392:30
1935OmahaJ. Fitzsimmons24 1/548 2/51:392:30 3/5
1934Peace ChanceP. Coyne24 3/549 3/51:39 3/52:29 1/5
1933HurryoffH. McDaniel23 4/5481:38 4/52:32 3/5
1932FairenoJ. Fitzsimmons2447 2/51:38 3/52:32 4/5
1931Twenty GrandJ. Rowe Jr. 23 4/5491:392:29 3/5
1930Gallant FoxJ. Fitzsimmons23 4/550 1/51:412:31 3/5
1929Blue LarkspurT. G. Hastings24 2/548 2/51:39 4/52:32 4/5
1928VitoM. Hirsch2448 1/51:39 2/52:33 1/5
1927Chance ShotP. Coyne24 1/548 3/51:40 1/52:32 2/5
1926CrusaderG. Conway25501:402:32 1/5

Source: NYRA media guide

Top Stories

With five days remaining in the 2021 Spring meet a...
Even though the $110,000 Roxelana Stakes at Church...
One of the prominent figures interviewed for a Was...
Last month, Get Smokin paid $10.40 to win as the b...
Sole Volante , who ran in two legs of the 2020 Tri...