History of Belmont
In 1902, a syndicate headed by August Belmont II and former Secretary of the Navy William C. Whitney sought land on Long Island to build the most elaborate track in America, one modeled after the great race courses of Europe. They found what they were looking for on the border of Queens County and Nassau County. Originally known as Foster’s Meadow, the 650 acres of land included a turreted Tudor-Gothic mansion owned by William de Forest Manice, which was to serve as the track’s Turf and Field Club until 1956.
The grand opening of Belmont Park on May 4, 1905, prompted the first of countless traffic jams in Long Island history as more than 40,000 fans, in all manner of conveyance, tried to arrive by the first race post time of 3 p.m. Not all of them made it in time to see August Belmont II’s Blandy, at 7-1, hold off 100-1 shot Oliver Cromwell in the $1,500 Belmont Inaugural. Later, James R. Keen’s Sysonby, who would be ranked No. 30 on the Blood-Horse Magazine’s top 100 horses of the 20th century, made his 3-year-old debut against the super filly Beldame, another of Belmont’s charges. In the stretch, Sysonby got unexpected competition from 20-1 Race King, and the two hit the wire in a dead heat.
I am posting this history because the date of May 4 really made an impression on me when I first read it.
June 7 is an important day for me historically and so it is interesting that the important Belmont Stakes race will occur on this day.
I attended Kent State University in 1958 and 1959. I finally learned the history of Belmont this past month. It really struck me since I had always associated the race with Affirmed to my sorority pin. My pledge class was initiated into the active chapter of Chi Omega on May 4, 1958. The founding of the chapter at Kent State University was on June 7, 1947. It was the first national chapter to be created at Kent State University and is the 100th chapter. Our national flower is the white carnation which is the flowers that are used to adorn the winner of the Belmont Stakes. What a strange coincidence that I learn all this now after all these years.
We always call the pin x and a horseshoe since the Omega symbol looks like a horseshoe. Have I ever been unaware of all these links to the Belmont but I just bet that there are others who are as aware of it as I am now. I will add more to this as time passes and I get a better sense of some other interesting links that I will keep on hold until certain things unfold.