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The Stars & Stripes Racing Festival, an annual event at Belmont Park since 2014, features a star-studded schedule of races this year.
Event highlights are the Belmont Derby Invitational and the Belmont Oaks Invitational Stakes, which each carry a prize fund of at least $1 million.
Joining these Grade I races is the Grade II Suburban Handicap. Grade III additions include the Dwyer Stakes and the John A. Nerud Stakes.
The Belmont Derby has a history that stretches back to 1929 even though the Belmont Oaks began in 1979. Bringing the two races together alongside a series of other graded races makes for a perfect day of racing.
The Stars & Stripes Racing Festival is a meeting of such quality that only the Breeders’ Cup can match it. The 2020 running of the festival will take place on Saturday, July 6.
This page is divided into the following sections to give you a complete rundown of the Stars & Stripes Racing Festival:
While the Stars & Stripes Racing Festival began in 2014, the races within the fest have a much longer history. This fact especially applies to the Belmont Derby and the Belmont Oaks.
Here is a look at the history of each of these races.
The Belmont Derby began in 1929. For the majority of its history, this race was known as the Jamaica Handicap (from 1929 to 2013) and changed to the new name when the Stars & Stripes Racing Festival began.
The first winner was Polydor, which was ridden by Mack Garner and trained by William Spiers.
For much of the history of the race, it was run over six furlongs, while recent years have seen the distance steadily increase to the 1.25 miles it is today. The Belmont Derby has been run on turf since 1994.
Today, the race is only open to 3-year-old fillies, but in the past, it was open to horses of all ages.
Two horses have achieved the feat of winning the race on three occasions:
The first running of the Belmont Oaks was in 1979.
The race has had several names over the years, including the Rare Perfume Stakes, the Garden City Breeders’ Cup and the Garden City Stakes. In 2014, with the advent of the Stars & Stripes Racing Festival, the name was changed to the Belmont Invitational Oaks.
The first winner of the race was Danielle B., ridden by Ruben Hernandez. Like the Belmont Derby, the distance of the race has gradually increased over the years, moving from a mile to today’s 1.25 miles. The race is run over turf and has always been for only 3-year-old fillies.
The organizers aim to attract the highest quality field as possible. The large prize certainly catches the eye of the owners and trainers throughout the country, ensuring standout fields in every running of the festival so far.
The winner of the Belmont Oaks will qualify for the Breeders’ Cup filly and mare turf race at the end of the season.
Belmont Park is perhaps best known for the Belmont Stakes, which is the final leg of the acclaimed Triple Crown. Known as the “Test of the Champion,” this is the make-or-break race, determining whether a horse will go down in history as a Triple Crown winner.
Only 13 horses have ever achieved that feat, the last of which was Justify in 2018.
The dirt track at Belmont Park, with an official title of “the main track” but commonly known as “Big Sandy,” has a circumference of 1.5 miles. This course is the largest dirt thoroughbred track in the US. The “Widener Turf Course” is directly inside the dirt track and has a circumference of 1 5/16 miles.
Other notable races at Belmont Park, which also run on dirt, include:
The most prominent races on the turf include:
In 2005, the Breeders’ Cup was held at Belmont Park.
There are two other renowned tracks in the state of New York, which play host to some of the most significant events in racing:
Aqueduct Racetrack features a host of superior races, including the Wood Memorial Stakes. It acts as one of the standout races in the “road to the Kentucky Derby” series, with a prize of $750,000.
The Cigar Mile Handicap, which honors the “horse of the decade” from the 1990s, is run over 1 mile on a dirt track and has a prize fund of $500,000.
Aqueduct also played host to the Breeders’ Cup in 1985, the first time the event was held in New York, and only the second edition of the world famous horse racing world championship.
Saratoga famously plays host to the Travers Stakes. The race is nicknamed the “Midsummer Derby” and has been running since 1864.
American Pharoah suffered a famous defeat in the Travers Stakes after winning the Triple Crown in 2015 while Whirlaway managed to achieve the superfecta in 1941 by adding the Travers Stakes to his Triple Crown win.
When deciding to bet online, it is always a good idea to stick to a trusted, regulated site with a reputable history.
Here is a rundown of three popular sites for placing legal bets on horses that tick all of those boxes:
While gambling online is the most straightforward option, there are some states where there are no online sports betting coverage.
Many other racetracks will offer simulcast racing from Belmont Park, enabling you to wager on and watch the action on the screen.
Off-track betting (OTB) is also a good option in many states, with OTB sites dotted across the country.
Of course, the best way to enjoy the action is to head to Belmont Park and watch in person. With the fantastic race card on offer at the festival, a feast of racing awaits.
With multiple high-class graded races, those with a keen eye for racing could enjoy great success on the day, with numerous trips to the teller to collect those winnings.
With a whole day of racing to look forward to, there is a lot of focus on those big money bets at the Stars & Stripes fest.
Perhaps the most enjoyable wager is the”all stakes late pick 5,” where you’ll be aiming to pick the winner from the five biggest races of the day.
In 2018, there was a guaranteed $500,000 prize fund in the”late pick 4,” too, covering the final four races of the day.
As well as these jackpot pick styles, there are, of course, the full range of wagers available on each race.
The win, place and show wagers are perhaps the most popular of all. By placing a win bet, you’ll be hoping your selection comes in first, while place and show wagers require your selection to finish second or third, respectively.
Added to these you can also enjoy the exotic wagers: exacta, trifecta and superfecta.
The exacta requires you to pick the first two finishers in the correct order, while the trifecta and superfecta need you to predict the first three and four correctly.
The payouts for these latter bets can be incredible, especially if an unfancied runner finds itself in the mix.
Is the Stars & Stripes Stakes part of the festival?
No, the Stars & Stripes Stakes is run at Arlington Park, near Chicago, in the leadup to the Arlington Million. Historically, this was an important race, featuring many of the best Triple Crown horses over the years. However, in recent years, the race has failed to attract the premier horses. The race currently has a modest prize fund of $100,000.
What do the Belmont Derby and Belmont Oaks winners receive?
The Belmont Derby has a prize fund of $1.2 million and the Belmont Oaks a prize fund of $1 million.
The other graded stakes, as part of the festival, have the following prize funds:
Who are the most successful jockeys at the Belmont Derby and Belmont Oaks?
The most successful jockey in the Belmont Derby is Richard Migliore, who had four wins over 20 years: 1984, 1986, 1996 and 2004.
Jose Santos is the most successful jockey in the Belmont Oaks with four wins: 1989, 1990, 1991 and 2004. With three consecutive wins, Santos is the only jockey to have achieved the hat-trick in the race.
Who are the most successful trainers at the Belmont Derby and Belmont Oaks?
Bert Mulholland and R. Emmitt Potts have won the Belmont Derby on three occasions, and both were linked with three-time winners. Potts would train Piet to his victories through 1949-51, while Mulholland would train Overdrawn to his first two victories in 1941 and 1942 (H. H. Battle would train the horse to its third straight victory in 1943). Mulholland earlier won the race with Sation in 1936.
The most successful trainer in the history of the Belmont Oaks is Chad Brown with five recent victories. Starting in 2012, Brown would win the race four times in a row with Samitar, Alterite, Minorette and Lady Eli, before claiming victory again in 2017 with New Money Honey.
What are the fastest performances in the Belmont Derby and the Belmont Oaks?
At the current distance, Oscar Performance is the fastest Derby winner, with a time of 2:00.25 in 2017. Last year, Athena won the Oaks in 1:58.71, a record time in the race since the move to the 1.25 miles.
The Stars & Stripes Racing Festival is a fantastic recent addition to the horse bet calendar.
Five big graded races were all brought together to become a top-class day of racing, highlighted by the newly named Belmont Derby and Belmont Oaks.
With prize funds for those two races of a million dollars or more, the fields will be of the highest quality, while the supporting cast of races ensures the action will remain star-studded throughout.