Belmont Stakes: Essential Quality was the sure bet holds off runner up Hot Rod Charlie

Jockey Ricardo Santana Jr crosses the finish line with winning horse Essential Quality to win the 128th Metropolitan horse race at the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park NY on Sat Jun 5, 2021 (AP News photo)

By Jessica Kwong

The Belmont Stakes favorite, Essential Quality, won the 153rd running of the third and final leg of the Triple Crown on Saturday evening.

Essential Quality overtook the early leader, Hot Rod Charlie, in the final turn and held him off until the finish line and won the $1 million race.

“That was a long way around there a mile a half but it was exciting,” Cox said. “It looked like the horse on the inside, he still had run left. I knew it was going to be a battle down the line.”

Hot Rod Charlie finished second while the 146th Preakness Stakes champion, Rombauer, finished third.

Essential Quality gave his trainer Brad Cox his first Triple Crown victory. His jockey Luis Saez also won a Triple Crown race for the first time.

Saez said Belmont was his “second home” and that this was the race I wanted to win.”

Cox said that Saez “did a fantastic job of getting him in position turning for home and he was able to really show his stamina late.”

The race did not include Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit, after the horse failed a drug test after the Derby. Medina Spirit’s trainer, Bob Baffert, has been suspended from the Derby for two years, it was announced on Wednesday. In addition, the New York Racing Association temporarily suspended Baffert from entering any races this month at the track that hosts the Belmont Stakes.

A limited crowd of 11,000 people attended the race at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York, and were required to show proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test.

Called the “Test of the Champion,” it is the oldest event in the Triple Crown and also the longest, at 1½ miles, or 12 furlongs.

Here is the 2021 Belmont Stakes finish order:

1 Essential Quality

2 Hot Rod Charlie

3 Rombauer

4 Known Agenda

5 Bourbonic

2020 Belmont Stakes: 138 years of waiting is over Tiz the Law NY bred horse wins Belmont still: It wasn’t even close as Tiz the Law wins by four lengths becoming the first New York bred to win the Belmont in 138 years

By Jessica Kwong

Tiz the Law made history at the 152nd Belmont Stakes on Saturday afternoon, as the first New York-bred horse to win on home turf in 138 years. The hometown boy was the 4-5 favorite and proved himself, winning with ease. Jockey Manny Franco, who competed in Belmont for the first time, could be heard screaming with joy.

The last New York-bred horse to win the Belmont Stakes was Forester in 1882.

Trained by Barclay Tagg, Tiz the Law accelerated at the final turn and no one could catch up to him near the finish line. He completed the race in 1:46.53. Dr Post, trained by Todd Pletcher, came in second and Max Player, trained by Linda Rice, took third place.

Tiz the Law won by four lengths and paid $3.60 to win, $2.90 to place and $2.60 to show. Dr Post had 7-1 odds and paid $5.80 to place and $4.20 to show. Max Player had 14-1 odds and paid $5.20 to show. Ten horses competed.

The $1 million event took place at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York, without spectators because of Covid-19 restrictions and social distancing requirements.

Originally slated for June 6, the Belmont Stakes is traditionally the final leg of the Triple Crown. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, it became the first of the three-race series, with the Kentucky Derby following on September 5 and the Preakness on October 3. It is a “backwards Triple Crown,” according to Jack Knowlton, who heads up the Sackatoga Stable partnership which owns Belmont Stakes.

Another change this year for the Belmont Stakes was its length. It is typically the longest race in the Triple Crown, but it was cut down from 1 1/2 miles to 1 1/8 miles to account for the shorter time frame the 3-year-old horses had to build stamina.

Tiz the Law earned Tagg and owners Sackatoga Stable their first Belmont Stakes victory.

“What a win!” Sackatoga Stable tweeted. “We couldn’t have done this without the amazing Barclay Tagg, @robinsmullen [Tagg’s longtime assistant] & @jockeyfranco. Best team in horse racing.”

Tiz the Law’s father is Constitution and his grandfather is Tapit, who fathered three Belmont Stakes winners. Tiz the Law has had six career starts and just one loss. Next up for Tiz the Law is the Kentucky Derby in two-and-a-half months.

The Belmont Stakes finishing order is as follows:

1. Tiz the Law

2. Dr Post

3. Max Player

4. Pneumatic

5.Tap It to Win

6.Sole Volante

7. Modernist

8. Farmington Road

9. Fore Left Jungle Runner