06 June 2008

Can Big Brown Deliver

The Carnation is a humble flower, but if Big Brown wins the 140th running of the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, he will will wear a blanket of 400 white flowers to become one of only Eleven other horses to have won thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown, making it one of the most difficult accomplishments in sports.

A horse is only considered a thoroughbred if you can trace their bloodlines to one of three horses; Matchen, 1748, Herod, 1758 and Eclipse, 1764. These horses are represented on the Tiffany trophy by supporting a silver bowl originally given by the Belmont family to the owner of the winning horse at the Belmont Stakes. The trophy celebrates the heritage of the Belmont Stakes and stands approximately 18 inches high. The trophy is presented to the owner in the winner's circle along with the carnation blanket.

Some basic facts about The Belmont

This is the eldest brother of the Triple Crown's three races first run in 1867 at Jerome Park, NY.
The winner of the first Kentucky Derby, Aristides, ran second in the Belmont Stakes of 1875, behind Calvin.

It was named for August Belmont, the first president of the American Jockey Club.

The first Belmont was won by a filly, Ruthless. She was one of only two fillies to ever win the Belmont Stakes.

The first Belmont Stakes was run clockwise in keeping with English tradition (in the United States all horse races are run counter-clockwise).

Grey Lag's Belmont (1921) was the first running of this prestigious event in the counter-clockwise direction at Belmont Park.

The first post parade in this country came in the 14th running of the Belmont Stakes in 1880. Until that time, the horses went directly from paddock to post. When you hear the opening strains of Sinatra's, "New York, New York" that signifies it is time for the Belmont Post-Parade. The song that used to be used was "Sidewalks of New York".

In 1890, the Belmont Stakes was moved to Morris Park, a mile and three-eighths track located a few miles east of what is now Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. In 1905 the stakes race moved once again to Belmont Park and it has been raced there ever since except for two years (1911-1912) when the race was not run.

The fastest Belmont ever run was by the legendary Secretariat. His 1973 Belmont Stakes victory still stands as the best in Belmont history and a world record for the mile and one-half distance at 2:24. What is perhaps even more remarkable is that he won by 31 lengths shattering Count Fleet's existing record of 25 lengths set in 1943!

The second-fastest clocking is shared by Easy Goer (1989) and A. P. Indy (1992) at 2:26, while Risen Star (1988) and Point Given (2001) hold the fourth-fastest time in Belmont history at 2:26 2/5. So have your stop watches ready to see if another horse can join these illustrious horses.

The Belmont Stakes is the fourth oldest stakes race in North America. The Phoenix Stakes, now run in the fall at Keeneland as The Phoenix Breeders' Cup, was first run in 1831, the Queen's Plate in Canada had its inauguration in 1860 and the Travers in Saratoga was initially run in 1864.

Official Drink: The Belmont Breeze based on an old, Colonial recipe for whiskey punch: "One of sour, two of sweet, three of strong, four of weak

1 1/2 oz. Seagrams 7
3/4 oz. Harveys Bristol Cream Sherry
1/2 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
1 oz. Simple Syrup
1 1/2 oz. Fresh Orange juice
1 1/2 oz. Cranberry juice
1 oz. of soda
1 oz. of 7up
fresh strawberry
lemon wedge
(you may substitute 1 oz. of Sweet & Sour mix for the lemon juice and simple syrup although fresh ingredients are best)


Shake first 6 ingredients with ice and top with half 7up and half soda, approximately one ounce of each. Garnish with fresh strawberry, a mint sprig, and a lemon wedge.


Linda said...

I never knew that was how a horse was considered a thoroughbred; that's pretty amazing to say the least!

Go Big Brown!!

Travis said...

I know so little about horse racing anyway, so my opinion hardly has any heft to it at all. But I couldn't take this year's possible Triple Crown seriously. Big Brown had been 5-0 as the favorite, with two of those wins in the Derby and the Preakness.

I always thought a Triple Crown winner should be legendary, such that people who knew nothing of racing would be aware of the horse in the build up toward the Triple Crown races. But 3-0 before taking a try at the Triple Crown, which has only been one by 11 other horses?

Maybe I'm wrong. I did enjoy reading your history of the Belmont. It's kind of the forgotten race of the three, at least for people like me.