My Top 4 Favorite Belmont Stakes Wins From 1990 Through 2010

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D.S. Williamson

May 23rd, 2017

I love the Belmont Stakes. To me, the final jewel of the Triple Crown is the most exciting. Even when a Triple Crown isn’t on the line, like it is in many years, it’s the most exciting race of the 3 to watch. Last year, Creator barely caught Destin. Who knows what’s going to happen this year?

I have so many Belmont Stakes that I remember that I had to narrow it down to a year range. The following are my favorite Belmont Stakes between 1990 and 2010. Keep reading to find out why these are my 4 favorite.

1998, Victory Gallop

I fell in love with Victory Gallop after watching his Arkansas Derby win. The way he closed at Oaklawn to win the Arkansas Derby was magical. Victory Gallop was on all my Derby tickets no matter what.

Just in case you’ve forgotten, Bob Baffert trained Real Quiet to a win in both the Derby and the Preakness. The year before, Baffert had lost the Triple Crown in the Belmont Stakes with the incredibly popular Silver Charm. Real Quiet was destined to win the Belmont and end the Triple Crown drought, wasn’t he?

I didn’t think so. Like I had done in the Derby and Preakness, I keyed everything on Victory Gallop. I also had a huge win bet on the Elliott Walden trainee. He beat Real Quiet by a nose.

2003, Empire Maker

The great Bobby Frankel trained Empire Maker. Frankel always said that his dream horse would be an Unbridled colt out of a Toussaud mare. Frankel got his dream with Empire Maker. I was so impressed with his win in the Florida Derby that I told my brother Eddie I thought he’d win the Triple Crown.

After winning the Wood Memorial over Funny Cide, Funny Cide turned the tables on Empire Maker in the Kentucky Derby. It turns out that Empire Maker, ridden by the great Jerry Baily, had a quarter crack while running in the Derby. It made sense because he had flattened out in the stretch.

Frankel stated that he was going to skip the Preakness in favor of running Empire Maker in the Belmont. Empire Maker went off as the 6/5 favorite. I didn’t care. I put $500 to win on him. He didn’t disappoint by dominating his rivals in the Belmont that day.

Bobby Frankel passed away 6 years later in 2009 at the age of 68. Empire Maker was the only horse that Frankel ever trained to win a Triple Crown race.

2005, Afleet Alex

Out of every horse that had a shot at the Triple Crown, Afleet Alex had the best shot. He looked like a winner after making a move to get the lead in the stretch in the Kentucky Derby. But, jockey Jeremy Rose had him on the worst part of the track that day, along the rail, which is why he ended up finishing third to Closing Argument and race winner Giacomo.

I didn’t lay off betting him in the Preakness Stakes. Amazingly, he managed to win even though he clipped heels and fell to his nose in the stretch. I still put money on Afleet Alex in the Belmont even though he went off at 6/5.

The Belmont was a procession. Afleet Alex beat Andromeda’s Hero by 7 lengths. He could have won by many more lengths if Rose had really laid into him. Alex’s Lemonade Stand still attributes Afleet Alex’es performance in the 2005 Triple Crown to putting the organization on the map.

2002, Sarava

There’s no way I can leave off my greatest single win wager of all time, can I? To this day, I get props from everyone I meet for picking Sarava to upset Derby and Preakness winner War Emblem, Medaglia D’Oro, and everyone else in the 2002 Belmont Stakes.

I only bet $20 on his nose. But, man, did he pay me well!  Sarava went off at 70 to 1 to win the Belmont Stakes. Why did I pick Sarava? It was all about the Brisnet speed ratings. I prefer Brisnet over DRF. I remember looking at the horses in the race and thinking only one horse could beat both Medaglia D’Oro and War Emblem.

That horse was Sarava because he had run a 106 Brisnet Speed Rating, if I remember correctly, in the 1 1/16 mile Sir Barton Stakes on the Preakness undercard. I also loved that Edgar Prado, who may have been the best jockey in the world in 2002, took the call.

I’ve picked longshots since the 2002 Belmont. But, I’ve never picked a longshot in a race as huge as the Belmont Stakes. I’ll never forget watching Sarava take the Test of Champions at 70 to 1.