The Most Surprising Upsets in Belmont Stakes History

The Belmont Stakes is one of the most prestigious horse racing events in the world. Every year, thousands of spectators flock to the Belmont Park in Elmont, NY, to watch the best horses and jockeys compete for glory and a place in history. While many of the races have been predictable, some have produced stunning upsets, with unfavored horses beating the favorites and causing a sensation in the racing world. From Prince of Penzance’s win in 2015 to Wilko’s victory in 2004, there have been several upsets that have shocked the audiences and the experts alike.

These upsets have not only changed the course of horse racing history but also inspired millions of people around the world. They remind us that anything is possible with proper training, dedication, and a little bit of luck. With this article, we celebrate the most surprising upsets in Belmont Stakes history and pay tribute to the horses and jockeys who defied the odds and emerged victorious.

Prince of Penzance (2015)

The Belmont Stakes has provided us with some of the most unexpected upsets in horse racing history. One highly surprising moment in the race’s history was Australian horse Prince of Penzance’s victory in 2015. With 23-1 odds, no one expected Prince of Penzance to win the race, but the horse defied the odds and crossed the finish line first.

What made the win even more memorable was the fact that jockey Michelle Payne was the first female jockey to win the Belmont Stakes. Payne had faced obstacles in her career, and her victory on Prince of Penzance became an inspiration for many girls who aspire to be jockeys.

The victory of Prince of Penzance and Michelle Payne’s accomplishment will forever be etched in history, not just as an unexpected win, but as a moment that symbolizes the power of hard work and determination.

Jazil (2006)

Jazil’s win at the 2006 Belmont Stakes was a surprise for many due to his 12-1 odds. However, even more shocking was the tragedy that occurred that day. Jazil edged out favorite Barbaro, but during the race, Barbaro shattered his leg and had to be put down.

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Barbaro had won the Kentucky Derby and was heavily favored to win the Belmont Stakes, but luck wasn’t on his side that day. Jazil’s jockey, Fernando Jara, took advantage of the situation and guided Jazil to a narrow victory. It was a bittersweet moment that left many feeling a mix of joy and heartbreak.

  • Jazil won with 12-1 odds
  • Edged out favorite Barbaro
  • Barbaro tragically broke his leg during the race and had to be put down
  • A bittersweet victory for Jazil’s jockey and fans of the beloved Barbaro

Birdstone (2004)

Birdstone’s win in the 2004 Belmont Stakes was nothing short of surprising. With odds of 36-1, many had written him off before the race even began. However, the unlikely contender delivered one of the most shocking upsets in Belmont Stakes history by beating the heavily-favored Smarty Jones.

The race was expected to be a breeze for Smarty Jones, the undefeated horse who had won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes that year. But Birdstone had other plans as he took the lead in the final stretch, winning the race with a time of 2:27.50.

The win was a triumph for jockey Edgar Prado and trainer Nick Zito, who had previously won the Belmont Stakes with another underdog, Da’ Tara. Birdstone’s victory also prevented Smarty Jones from becoming the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978, making it one of the most surprising upsets in Belmont Stakes history.

Sarava (2002)

In 2002, the Belmont Stakes saw one of the biggest upsets in its history when Sarava came in at 70-1 odds to take the win. This victory was made even more surprising as War Emblem, who was vying for the Triple Crown after wins at the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, was expected to win and had odds of 1-4. Sarava, ridden by jockey Edgar Prado, became the horse with the highest odds to win the Belmont Stakes, causing a major upset for War Emblem’s team and betting enthusiasts.

Despite not being a popular horse to win beforehand, Sarava proved himself on the day and set a record for the highest odds of any Belmont Stakes winner. This victory will always be remembered as one of the most surprising and unexpected moments in the history of the event, and it just goes to show that anything can happen in horse racing.

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Da’ Tara (2008)

In the 2008 Belmont Stakes, Big Brown was heavily favored to become the first Triple Crown winner in 30 years. However, it was Da’ Tara, a 38-1 underdog, who shocked everyone by winning the race. To make matters worse for Big Brown, he finished last, making him the only horse in history to finish in that position after winning the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes.

The race was a disaster for Big Brown, with jockey Kent Desormeaux pulling him up early in the race, as he was not performing well and was in danger of being injured. It was later revealed that he had a hoof injury that was bothering him during the race. This unexpected loss turned out to be a heartbreak for Big Brown’s owners, who had high hopes for him to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.

Summer Bird (2009)

One of the most surprising upsets in Belmont Stakes history was the victory of Summer Bird in 2009. With 11-1 odds, Summer Bird was not a favorite going into the race. Many were expecting a win from favorite Dunkirk, who had dominated in the qualifying races. However, Summer Bird had other plans, and with jockey Kent Desormeaux at the reins, he delivered an incredible performance.

Summer Bird’s win was made even more impressive by the competition he beat. Mine That Bird, who had won the Kentucky Derby earlier that year, was considered a strong contender. But Summer Bird pulled ahead of him, crossing the finish line first. His victory also dashed the hopes of many fans rooting for Dunkirk to win. Despite being a favorite, Dunkirk just couldn’t keep up with Summer Bird’s pace.

Overall, Summer Bird’s unexpected win in the Belmont Stakes solidified his place in horse racing history. It just goes to show that in this sport, anything can happen, and underdogs can come out on top.

Ruler on Ice (2011)

Ruler on Ice proved that anything can happen in horse racing, as he won the Belmont Stakes with 24-1 odds, taking down the heavily favored Animal Kingdom and Preakness winner Shackleford. Going into the race, all eyes were on Animal Kingdom, who had won the Kentucky Derby and was the favorite to win the Belmont Stakes and complete the Triple Crown. However, Ruler on Ice had other plans and delivered a shocking upset that surprised many.

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Ruler on Ice’s jockey, Jose Valdivia Jr., rode the horse perfectly, staying towards the back of the pack for most of the race before making a strong push towards the end. In the final stretch, Ruler on Ice passed Animal Kingdom and held off a late charge from Stay Thirsty to capture the victory in dramatic fashion. Valdivia Jr. commented after the race, “I knew he had it in him, I knew he was a great horse, and he just proved it today.” It was a moment that no one predicted and shows that in the sport of horse racing, anything can happen.

Tonalist (2014)

Tonalist’s victory in the 2014 Belmont Stakes was a major upset that shattered the hopes of horse racing fans who were rooting for California Chrome to claim the Triple Crown. Tonalist, ridden by Joel Rosario, won the race with 9-1 odds, making him one of the biggest underdogs to ever win the Belmont Stakes. California Chrome was the heavy favorite, having won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes. However, Tonalist outraced him in a thrilling finish, sending shockwaves through the racing world. Despite the bitter disappointment, California Chrome’s team handled the loss with grace, congratulating Tonalist for his impressive performance.

Wilko (2004)

With 28-1 odds, Wilko’s win at the Belmont Stakes was one of the most unexpected victories in the history of the race. The two favorites, Smarty Jones and Eddington, were expected to finish in the first two places. However, it was Wilko who came from behind to win the race by a length.

The win was an amazing achievement for Wilko and his jockey, Richard Migliore. The victory made Wilko the first European horse to win the Belmont Stakes in over 70 years. The win was also a significant upset for many who placed bets on the race.

Wilko’s success at the Belmont Stakes is a great example of why it’s important to never rule out the underdogs in horse racing. With odds of 28-1, many never expected the horse to do well, but he proved them all wrong with his stunning victory.

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