Cut up the strawberries, and crack open the whiskey, it’s time to make those Belmont Breezes!This Saturday will mark the 143rd running of the Belmont Stakes, the oldest race in the Triple Crown series. The race will take place at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y. at 6:35 p.m.
The Belmont Stakes is the final of three races in the Triple Crown. The Triple Crown consists first of the Kentucky Derby, held at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., second the Preakness, held at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Md., and lastly the Belmont Stakes.
The races take place over five weeks, with each race getting longer, culminating in the grueling 1.5 mile Belmont. To win the Triple Crown, a horse must win each race, a feat not done since 1978 when Affirmed took the Belmont Stakes in dramatic fashion. At 1.5 miles, the length of the Belmont Park track adds a whole other dimension to the race. The jockey must temper the horse and have patience in order to claim victory. Pure speed will not get you a victory.
There will be no Triple Crown winner this year because Animal Kingdom, the Kentucky Derby winner, did not win the Preakness. Shackelford, who won the Preakness, will try to take the rubber match race against Animal Kingdom, something not accomplished since 2005.
Animal Kingdom, the Kentucky Derby winner is the 2-1 favorite in the race. In all, seven horses from the Kentucky Derby will run the Belmont. Historically, the betting favorite has won the Belmont 60 out of 142 times (42.2 percent).
The winner of the Belmont receives a blanket of white carnations, which has become the official flower of the race. The blanket has approximately 700 carnations that are hand glued onto the blanket, a process that takes nearly five hours and must be done the day of the race to ensure the flowers do not wilt.
Along with the blanket of carnations, the winner receives the August Belmont Memorial Cup. The trophy, made by Tiffany and Co., is solid silver. The trophy has been used since 1926 as the official prize for the Belmont Stakes.
No Triple Crown race would be complete without its signature drink. The Kentucky Derby has the mint julep, the Preakness has the black-eyed Susan, and the Belmont has the Belmont breeze (formerly known as the White Carnation). The whiskey concoction was created by Dale DeGroff, New York’s premiere beverage authority, and has been the official drink since 1998. It is the most expensive of all the Triple Crown beverages at $10 a drink.
Weather may play a factor in the race on Saturday, as rain showers are predicted with highs in the low 70s.