Can Justify become the 13th Triple Crown winner in horseracing history?
We’ll find out Saturday, June 9 at Belmont Park during the 150th running of the Belmont Stakes, with coverage of the event beginning 4:00 p.m. EST on NBC. A sold-out crowd of 90,000 fans will cram into the Elmont, New York venue to see if the thoroughbred can outdo seven other colts to make Bob Baffert just the second trainer in horseracing history to train two Triple Crown champs. (Baffert trained American Pharoah to the last Triple Crown win back in 2015. That was the first Triple Crown victory since 1978, proving how elusive the title has been).
Although not as much notoriety surrounds the annual race as The Kentucky Derby or The Preakness Stakes, the third and final leg of the Triple Crown is actually entrenched in history that predates both of the larger horseracing events before it.
The inaugural Belmont Stakes was held in 1867 at the Jerome Park Racetrack in the Bronx, making it nine years older than The Derby and seven years older than The Preakness, as reported by the event’s website. The Belmont Stakes would be moved to its second home, the Morris Park Racecourse, in 1890, before permanently being held at Belmont Park from May 1905 and onwards.
As the oldest of the Triple Crown events, the Belmont Stakes, nicknamed the “Test of the Champion,” is also thought to be the most demanding and most unpredictable of the three horseracing events. Those traits can be attributed to the event’s 1½-mile distance, which is the longest, most challenging course of the three Triple Crown events as well.
Already steeped in history, Belmont Park is slated to be even more booming and thriving in the near future, with National Hockey League commissioner Gary Bettman telling Newsday this past April that he expects the New York Islanders to break ground on their new arena at the Elmont location in early 2019.
In addition to their planned 18,000-seat arena, the $1 billion Belmont Park project also calls for 435,000 square feet of retail space, a movie theater, restaurants, a hotel, community space and open public space, according to Newsday. The Islanders hope their new arena is open by 2020-21 NHL season.
But before that new chapter at Belmont Park can begin, Justify can make history at the venue by capturing the Triple Crown. After winning the rainy, muddy Kentucky Derby and taking The Preakness under heavy fog earlier this month, Justify enters the Belmont Stakes as the favorite with 4-5 odds, according to the race’s latest odds, as reported by CBS Sports. Hofburg (4-1 odds) and Bravazo (8-1 odds) are thought to be amongst Justify’s biggest competition at the Belmont Stakes, which carries a total purse of $1.5 million.
Will Justify make history at the track June 9?