The two biggest events on the road to becoming a Triple Crown winner in Thoroughbred horse racing occur in the Preakness and Belmont Stakes.

The Triple Crown series winner must first claim victory in the Kentucky Derby in early May, the Preakness Stakes later that month, and finally the Belmont Stakes in early June.

Read below to learn the history and the differences between these Triple Crown races.


What is the Belmont Stakes?

The Belmont Stakes is the ultimate challenge for a Thoroughbred horse to become a Triple Crown winner. It happens every year, usually in June, at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York. The track is famous for hosting almost every American horse racing champion in the history of the sport. The Belmont track features big switchbacks and a long homestretch that has tested the limits of the best horses.

Belmont Park Race Course in Elmont, New York is the longest and oldest race course in the Triple Crown series. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Millions of people from around the world watch the Belmont annually, and some of the most prominent members of American thoroughbred horse racing turn up in person for the race. For more than a century, some of the greatest horses built their legacies on the track, including Secretariat, widely considered the greatest racehorse that ever lived and who holds the fastest record at Belmont.

Horse racers at Belmont must consider several factors to achieve victory at Championship Track, including maintaining their horse’s stamina while being able to compete against some of the best breeds in the racing world. The Belmont takes place approximately five weeks after the Kentucky Derby and three weeks after the conclusion of the Preakness Stakes.

What is the Preakness Stakes?

The Preakness Stakes is held annually on the third Saturday in May on Armed Forces Day at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore. Occurring two weeks after the Kentucky Derby, the race is the second challenge racehorses must overcome on their way to the Triple Crown prize. The dirt track allows colts and geldings to carry weight up to 126 pounds, while fillies are allowed 121 pounds.

Founded in 1873, the race is named after the horse Preakness, who won the Dinner Party Stakes three years earlier in 1870. However, for more than a decade, Preakness was held outside of Maryland in Westchester County, New York, in 1890 and Brooklyn from 1894 to 1908. The race is considered the second most popular horse racing event in the United States, behind the Kentucky Derby.

The Preakness Stakes race track

The Preakness Stakes has been held in Baltimore for more than a century. (Patricio Smith/Getty Images)


The Preakness almost always gets a lot of attention and audience, especially for fans and people of the Triple Crown series. looking to bet on various breeds about who will win the race.

How are the Triple Crown horse competitions different?

One of the key differences between Preakness and Belmont is the length of the track on which the horses and their jockeys compete. Preakness is the second longest track in the Triple Crown Series at 1 3/16 miles long, while Belmont is the longest at 1 ½ miles. By comparison, most other pre-Derby races for young horses are 1 1/8 miles long, making Belmont one of the longest tracks in the country.

Racehorse running on a track

The Triple Crown winner must be victorious in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)


Additionally, Belmont is the oldest race in the Triple Crown Series, established in 1867 and followed by the Preakness six years before the Kentucky Derby arose in 1875. Preakness and Belmont also have different traditions, such as singing a song that is themed the state it is in. For example, the song «New York, New York» is sung at the Belmont while Preakness attendees sing «Maryland, My Maryland.»