2011 Belmont Stakes: The 10 Greatest Belmont Winners of All Time

Melissa Bauer-Herzog@mbauerherzogCorrespondent IJune 10, 2011

2011 Belmont Stakes: The 10 Greatest Belmont Winners of All Time

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    The Belmont Stakes is the most challenging of the Triple Crown races for a Triple Crown contender as the horse has to go 1 1/2 miles in the final leg of a five-week campaign.

    But while the Kentucky Derby has the prestige of being, well... the Kentucky Derby, and the Preakness has been the crowning race for the last 10 three year old Eclipse winners, the Belmont Stakes has given us many exciting finishes and great horses throughout it's history.

    But who are the 10 greatest winners of all time?

    Let's take a look.

No. 10: Easy Goer

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    Easy Goer won the 1989 version of the Belmont, running the second fastest time in the race's history.

    His record is one of legend with 14 wins in 20 starts, including being the only horse to win the G1 Whitney, G1 Travers, G1 Woodward, and G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup

    He was also only one of two horses to win the Belmont S(G1),Travers(G1) and Champagne(G1). He finished second in both the G1 Kentucky Derby and the G1 Preakness.

    The horse retired as a four year old and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1997.

No. 9: Assault

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    Assault won the Triple Crown in 1946 in a campaign that saw him win eight races before returning to the track as a four year old to win five races, including the Brooklyn Handicap. 

    However, this is where his story takes an interesting turn. Assault was discovered to be mostly sterile (siring only two quarter horse fillies) and returned to the track at six to once again win the Brooklyn Handicap.

    Assault entered permanent retirement at seven years of age after earning a record of 18 wins, six seconds, and seven thirds in 42 starts.

No. 8: Native Dancer

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    The great Native Dancer was not only a good sire (seen in many American lines today) but he was also a great racehorse. He won 21 of 22 starts, including both the Preakness and Belmont.

    He also dominated Eclipse voting in his age groups from 1952 to 1954, when he finally grabbed Horse of the Year honors. In addition, he was rated as the No. 6 horse in the 20th century by Bloodhorse.

    He may be the best Belmont winner to not win a Triple Crown.

No. 7: Gallant Fox

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    Not only was Gallant Fox the 1930 Triple Crown winner, he also sired one in his first crop when Omaha was born.

    Gallant Fox hit the board 16 times in 17 races including 11 wins. He was a stakes winner at both two and three for 11 stakes wins in his career. 

    The horse retired after his three-year-old season and is buried at Claiborne Farm.

No. 6: War Admiral

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    While probably known best by casual fans as the horse that lost to Seabiscuit, War Admiral was also the 1937 Triple Crown winner and the son of Man O' War.  He won 21 of his 26 starts, only placing off the board once in his career.

    The horse cleaned up at the Eclipse Awards as a three-year-old, winning both Horse of the Year and Champion Three-Year-Old colt before returning to the track as a four year old to win six major stakes races.

    He died in 1959 and is buried at the Kentucky Horse Park.

No. 5: Affirmed

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    It was really hard to place Affirmed in the No. 5 spot  with his amazing career and his battled with Alydar.

    Affirmed was the 1978 (and last) Triple Crown champion and had to work for it every step of the way, especially in the Belmont with a head to head battle with Alydar.

    Like Native Dancer (ironically, Native Dancer is in the third generation of Affirmed's pedigree), Affirmed dominated Eclipse Awards from 1977 to 1979, winning Horse of the Year both in 1978 and 1979.

    He won 22 of 29 races in three seasons of racing, only placing off the board one time.

No. 4: Whirlaway

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    Whirlaway was a warhorse, running 60 times.

    While on the surface, his record doesn't look very good, he only won 32 of those 60 starts, he was a Triple Crown winner, and many of his wins came in stakes races, including a walkover in the 1942 Pimlico Special.

    Whirlaway won nearly all there was for him to win and his ability and stubborn streak endeared him to the racing public. He won the three Eclipse awards, including Horse of the Year for his three-year-old season.

No. 3: Seattle Slew

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    Seattle Slew's record is a thing of legend.

    The colt is the only one to win the Triple Crown while undefeated and won 14 of his 17 starts. He is also the only horse to defeat another Triple Crown winner when he beat Affirmed in the 1978 Marlboro Cup.

    Seattle Slew is one of the ones that many think of when they think of a Triple Crown winner. But his legacy isn't just on the track as he was a leading sire as well. 

    Slew had all the right things to make him great both on and off the track, and only finished off the board once in 17 starts (he had two second place finishes).

No. 2: Secretariat

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    The big red of the second half of the 20th century, Secretariat is a horse dreams are made of.  His run away 31 lengths Belmont win  is still talked about and he still has the fastest Kentucky Derby time as well.

    But Secretariat wasn't only a Triple Crown horse, the colt also won on turf in his three year old year and won Champion Turf Horse as well as Horse of the Year and Three Year Old Colt honors in 1973 in addition to two year old honors and the Horse of the Year title in 1972.

    There's really not much more that can be said about this horse because he literally did everything he could do on the track besides jump. He truly is the dream horse that everyone hopes to have.

No. 1: Man O' War

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    Only one horse can top the "Big Red" of the second half of the century and that is the "Big Red" of the first half. Man O' War is the horse everyone names, even those that aren't fans of horse racing. The horse set track and world records in multiple races and his only loss came at two.

    There's not much you can say about Man O' War other than how spectacular he was both on and off the track. His breeding influence may be felt even more than his on track record as he can be found in many pedigrees today, especially through his son War Admiral.

    The chestnut had a record of 20 wins in 21 starts with one second for $249,465 and earned three Eclipse Honors (two-year-old and three-year-old of the year in 1919 and 1920, and Horse of the Year in 1920).

    The stallion won both the Preakness and the Belmont but did not run in the Kentucky Derby.