The lucrative Belmont Park spring/summer meet, featuring 59 stakes races worth $16.95 million in total purses, kicks off Thursday with a nine-race card and a first post of 1:20 p.m. Eastern. The 44-day meet runs through Sunday, July 10.
The Belmont spring/summer meet will offer 12 Grade 1 events highlighted by the three-day Belmont Stakes Racing Festival from Thursday, June 9 through Saturday, June 11.
The festival will encompass 17 total stakes, including eight Grade 1s on Belmont Stakes Day, capped by the $1.5 million “Test of the Champion” for 3-year-olds in the 1 1/2-mile final leg of the Triple Crown. For additional information on the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival, and details on hospitality offerings, ticket packages and pricing, visit BelmontStakes.com.
Last year, Chad Brown registered 32 victories to finish as leading trainer at the Belmont spring/summer meet for the sixth consecutive year. Jose Ortiz won the riding title with 59 victories, while Klaravich Stables led all owners with 11 wins during the 48-day meet.
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The 2021 Belmont Park spring/summer meet generated $632,208,251 in all sources handle with an average daily handle of $13,171,005. The Belmont Stakes Day card, highlighted by Essential Quality’s victory in the 153rd running of the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets, generated all-sources handle of $112,725,278; a NYRA record for a non-Triple Crown year.
Average field size over 454 races at the 2021 Belmont spring/summer meet was 7.6.
NEW TO BELMONT PARK
An all-star jockey colony will be bolstered by the arrival of West Coast raider Flavien Prat.
Prat, an Eclipse Award-finalist in 2021, made his presence felt last summer at Belmont by winning the Grade 1 Manhattan with Domestic Spending, the Grade 3 Wonder Again aboard Con Lima and the Grade 3 Victory Ride on Souper Sensational. He also guided Hot Rod Charlie to a runner-up finish in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes.
A perennial leading rider at Santa Anita Park, Prat is a three-time Breeders’ Cup winner and his resume includes Classic scores in the Kentucky Derby [Country House, via disqualification in 2019] and Preakness [2021, Rombauer].
Prat is expected to join the Belmont colony following the Kentucky Derby.
JOCKEY/TRAINER WINS BY SURFACE
Certain jockeys and horses flourish over the sweeping turns of Belmont Park and its infamous 1 1/2-mile main dirt track known as Big Sandy, which features a stretch run of 1,097 feet. The unique configuration allows for nine-furlong races to be run around one turn.
Belmont Park boasts two turf courses, including the 1 5/16-mile Widener turf course and the 1 3/16-mile inner turf course.
Here is a closer look at how jockeys and trainers fared at last year’s Belmont spring/summer meet.
Top 5 jockeys by wins on the main track with win percentage:
Jose Ortiz [133-32-24-22, 24.1%]
Irad Ortiz, Jr. [117-29-24-20, 24.8%]
Manny Franco [176-27-28-26, 15.3%]
Luis Saez [138-25-31-16, 18.1 %]
Joel Rosario [105-23-10-18, 21.9%]
Notable: Trevor McCarthy [49-11-2-7, 22.4%]
Top 5 jockeys by wins on the turf:
Irad Ortiz, Jr. [120-28-22-15, 23.3%]
Jose Ortiz [145-27-23-24, 18.6%]
Manny Franco [174-25-20-24, 14.4%]
Joel Rosario [133-20-19-20, 15%]
Eric Cancel [137-17-13-16, 12.4%]
Notable: Flavien Prat [17-5-3-1, 29.4%]
Top 5 trainers by wins on the main track:
Rudy Rodriguez [66-13-12-5, 19.7%]
Todd Pletcher [58-12-9-9, 20.7%]
Rob Atras [56-11-15-8, 19.6%]
Orlando Noda [44-11-6-7, 25%]
Steve Asmussen [21-9-2-3, 42.9%]
Notable: Wesley Ward [20-8-2-2, 40%]
Top 5 trainers by wins on the turf:
Chad Brown [121-26-23-24, 21.5%]
Christophe Clement [118-25-21-15, 21.2%]
Mike Maker [66-11-11-10, 16.7%]
Rob Atras [35-8-3-5, 22.9%]
Graham Motion [34-7-7-5, 20.6%]
Wesley Ward [26-7-4-4, 26.9%]
Notable: Robert Falcone Jr. [15-4-1-1, 26.7%], John Terranova [19-4-3-4, 21.1%]
RETURN ON INVESTMENT
Jockey Dylan Davis picked up his first NYRA meet title with 63 wins at the Aqueduct winter meet. The 27-year-old native of Manhasset N.Y. was effective with limited mounts at last year’s Belmont spring/summer meet which was cut short due to injury, notching 11 wins from 75 starts for a $3.86 ROI.
Trainer Michelle Nevin won 8-of-45 starts for a healthy $4.27 ROI at the 2021 Belmont spring/summer meet.
Hall of Famer John Velazquez and trainer Wesley Ward proved a successful combination last summer at Belmont, winning 10-of-18 starts for an ROI of $2.57. A number of other jockey/trainer combos also proved valuable, including:
Eric Cancel and Chris Englehart [5-for-18, $4.39]
Manny Franco and Chad Brown [7-for-20, $3.89]
Irad Ortiz, Jr. and Saffie Joseph, Jr. [5-for-8, $3.53]
HORSE FOR COURSE
First Captain and Runaway Rumour each went a perfect 3-for-3 to tie for winningest horse at last year’s Belmont spring/summer meet.
Trained by Shug McGaughey, First Captain, a 4-year-old Curlin chestnut, graduated last April over Big Sandy before winning an allowance in May and the Grade 3 Dwyer in July. He most recently finished seventh in the Grade 1 Carter Handicap presented by NYRA Bets at the Big A.
Turf specialist Runaway Rumour, a 4-year-old New York-bred daughter of Flintshire, made her first two career starts against fellow state-breds, graduating at first asking in May ahead of a narrow allowance score on June 5.
She completed a perfect Belmont summer campaign by besting open company on June 26 in the Wild Applause. Trained by Jorge Abreu, Runaway Rumour returned to Belmont in the fall with a good third in the Pebbles and narrowly missed winning the Grade 2 Sands Point, finishing a neck shy of Fluffy Socks. The consistent bay is expected to target the Grade 3, $150,000 Beaugay on May 14.
Win, Place and Show: 16%
Pick 5 wagering: 15%
Daily Double, Quinella and Exacta: 18.5%
Trifecta, Superfecta, Pick 3, Pick 4 and Grand Slam: 24%
Pick 6: 15% (24% on carryover days)