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Blog - RACING

Animal Kingdom and Shackleford were the last Kentucky Derby and Preaknes Stakes winners to have a rematch in the Belmont Stakes (Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire).

There is no denying that the Belmont Stakes is far more commercially appealing to a national audience when there is a Triple Crown is on the line, as was readily apparent when the final jewel of the Triple Crown exceeded 101,000 fans each year from 2002 through 2004 with the lure of a glimpse of history.

But a nice consolation prize is having both the Kentucky Derby winner and Preakness winner return for a rematch in the Belmont Stakes.

That scenario looks very likely for this year with Derby winner Orb and Preakness victor Oxbow both expected to be among the Belmont Stakes entrants.

In the most recent 25 editions of the Belmont Stakes, seven times the race has drawn the Derby and Preakness winner when there was no Triple Crown on the line.

In the Belmont rematch, the Preakness winner has dominated with five wins from those seven races. The Derby victor is winless in the scenario.

The Preakness winner was favored four times and went on to win in three of the four occasions. The Derby winner was favored twice with Strike the Gold finishing second in 1991 and Animal Kingdom a troubled sixth in 2011, the most recent Belmont that featured a showdown of Derby and Preakness winners.

Interestingly, in 1994 Strodes Creek was the favorite over Derby winner Go for Gin and Preakness winner Tabasco Cat. Tabasco Cat won by two lengths from Go for Gin in the 1994 Belmont with Strodes Creek another half-length back in third as the 1.30-1 favorite.

Belmont Rematch: Derby Winner v. Preakness Winner Since 1988

Year

Derby Winner

Belmont
Odds

Belmont
Finish

Preakness
Winner

Belmont
Odds

Belmont
Finish

Belmont
Winner

1988

Winning Colors

2.20-1

6th

Risen Star

*2.10-1

1st

Risen Star

1991

Strike the Gold

*2.20-1

2nd

Hansel

4.10-1

1st

Hansel

1993

Sea Hero

3.20-1

7th

Prairie Bayou

*2.70-1

DNF

Colonial Affair

1994

Go for Gin

3-2

2nd

Tabasco Cat

3.40-1

1st

Tabasco Cat

2001

Monarchos

5-1

3rd

Point Given

*1.35-1

1st

Point Given

2005

Giacomo

5.10-1

7th

Afleet Alex

*1.15

1st

Afleet Alex

2011

Animal Kingdom

*2.60-1

6th

Shackleford

6.30-1

5th

Ruler On Ice

*Denotes Favorite

Based on the table above, it seems fair to surmise that Oxbow could be quite formidable, especially given his robust pedigree – by 1998 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Awesome Again and out of a full-sister to two-time Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Tiznow.

The data does not paint quite as rosy a picture for Orb, however, it should be noted that three of the Derby victors in the table above finished in the top three with a pair of runner-up finishes. Plus, Orb also has a stamina-laden pedigree that would suggest 1 ½ miles will be no issue.

In the two times neither the Derby winner nor the Preakness winner prevailed in the rematch, a 3-year-old making his classic debut won the race.

From this year’s group of Belmont possibles, Kentucky Oaks third-place finisher Unlimited Budget and Peter Pan Stakes winner Freedom Child as well as Incognito, Midnight Taboo, and stakes-placed Always in a Tiz would be making their classic debuts in the Belmont.

Does the presence of both classic winners have a significant impact on attendance? Let’s take a look.

In the last 25 years, the eight Belmont Stakes with a Triple Crown drew an average of 90,165 fans, while the seven times the Derby and Preakness winners both returned for the Belmont drew an average of 55,414. That number is slightly higher than the 53,806 average when neither scenario was in play. However, if you remove last year’s Belmont - which drew 85,811 because so many people bought tickets to attend in expectation of I’ll Have Another’s Triple Crown bid that never happened - from this equation, the average from the nine Belmonts that did not feature a Triple Crown bid nor a Derby-Preakness rematch averaged 50,250.

I’m willing to go out on a limb and predict 60,000 plus fans make their way to Belmont Park on Saturday for what looks like a strong field of 14, which would be the largest since 1996 when Editor’s Note defeated 13 rivals to win the final jewel of the Triple Crown. The Belmont is limited to 16 starters with the largest field of 15 3-year-olds coming in 1983 when Caveat defeated Slew o’ Gold for the second of five straight Belmont wins for Hall of Fame trainer Woody Stephens.

Attendance Last 25 Editions of Belmont Stakes

Year   

Attendance

Year   

Attendance

1988

56,223

2001

73,857

1989

64,959

2002

103,222

1990

50,123

2003

101,864

1991

51,766

2004

120,139

1992

50,204

2005

62,274

1993

45,307

2006

61,168

1994

42,695

2007

46,870

1995

37,171

2008

94,476

1996

40,797

2009

52,861

1997

70,682

2010

45,243

1998

80,162

2011

55,779

1999

85,818

2012

85,811

2000

67,810

 

 

Bold Denotes Triple Crown on Line

Italics Denotes Derby-Preakness Winner Showdown

 

Image Description

Mike Curry

A native of Philadelphia who grew up in nearby Wilmington, Del., Curry was editor of Thoroughbred Times TODAY before joining the America's Best Racing team in May 2012. He credits his grandfather for the inspiration to repeatedly sneak off to Delaware Park as a 16-year-old and the 1989 rivalry between Sunday Silence and Easy Goer for his passion for horse racing. Curry graduated from the University of Delaware in 1997 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and a concentration in Journalism. He worked for the Wilmington News Journal and was Sports Editor of the Cecil Whig before moving to Lexington in 2005.

Image Description

Mike Curry

A native of Philadelphia who grew up in nearby Wilmington, Del., Curry was editor of Thoroughbred Times TODAY before joining the America's Best Racing team in May 2012. He credits his grandfather for the inspiration to repeatedly sneak off to Delaware Park as a 16-year-old and the 1989 rivalry between Sunday Silence and Easy Goer for his passion for horse racing. Curry graduated from the University of Delaware in 1997 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and a concentration in Journalism. He worked for the Wilmington News Journal and was Sports Editor of the Cecil Whig before moving to Lexington in 2005.

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