06/13/2011 11:52PM

The 2011 Belmont Stakes, in photos


You'd have had a hard time - to say the least - predicting how the 2011 Belmont would play out.  While many thought the race would solidify a racing rivalry, it instead resulted in hot controversy and introduced us to a delightfully quirky winner.

Now, watch the race unfold through photos by Michael Amoruso, Tom Keyser, Justin N. Lane, Kim Pratt, Debra A. Roma, Emily Shields and Barbara Livingston.  With special thanks to John Bambury for his assistance.

Above:  Belmont Park, as always, proved a beautiful backdrop for the famed Test of the Champion while, below, the jockeys head out to the paddock.

Above:  The occasionally unruly Ruler On Ice did not enjoy the trip from the paddock to the racetrack.

Above and below:  Stay Thirsty and Javier Castellano, second-place finishers.  Mike Repole's Stay Thirsty carried the logo of Repole's Pirate's Booty.

Above and below:  Brilliant Speed has an unusually handsome face and glowing eyes.  He and rider Joel Rosario finished third.

Above and below:  Nehro, Corey Nakatani up, finished fourth for trainer Steve Asmussen (above, background).

Above:  Animal Kingdom is his usual professional self in the paddock as trainer Graham Motion watches.  Below, Graham heads to the track.

Above:  Animal Kingdom and John Velazquez in the Belmont post parade.

Above and below:  Shackleford, as usual, hip-hopped and bounced before the race under jockey Jesus Castanon.   They finished fifth.

Above:  Jesus Castanon calms Shackleford in the post parade.

Above and below:  Ramon Dominguez picked up the mount on the popular Mucho Macho Man, who ran seventh.  One of Mucho Macho Man's nicknames is 3M - so 3M was a natural fit as a sponsor (note Ramon's pant leg).

Above:  Santiva and Shaun Bridgmohan look good in the Belmont post parade.  They finished eighth.  

Above:  Prime Cut and Edgar Prado head postward for the Belmont Stakes.  Prime Cut ran 11th.

Above:  Jose Lezcano and Monzon, who finished ninth.

Above:  Isn't He Perfect, with Rajiv Maragh up, finished 12th.

Above and below:  Master of Hounds came Stateside for his Belmont Stakes attempt.  Garrett Gomez rode the lively bay colt, who finished tenth.

And they're off!  The 2011 Belmont Stakes was underway...

Above:  Ruler On Ice (winner), Stay Thirsty (second) and Master of Hounds.

Above:  Isn't He Perfect, Mucho Macho Man, Animal Kingdom, Monzon, Prime Cut.

Above:  Isn't He Perfect, Mucho Macho Man, Prime Cut, Nehro.

Above:  Animal Kingdom trails the field as they head toward the backstretch.

Above and below:  As they head into the homestretch, it's Brilliant Speed, Ruler On Ice and Shackleford in the lead, with Stay Thirsty along the rail and Animal Kingdom on the outside.

 Above: Animal Kingdom and John Velazquez head for home.

Above:  Stay Thirsty fights along the rail and, below, Ruler On Ice and Jose Valdivia, Jr. take the lead.

Above:  The Belmont Stakes' 1-2-3 finishers approach the wire - Ruler On Ice, Stay Thirsty and Brilliant Speed.  Ruler On Ice paid $51.50 to win, Stay Thirsty paid $19.20 to place, and Brilliant Speed paid $7.90 to show.  The very surprising triple paid $9,268.

Above and below:  Jose Valdivia is exuberant with his first classic victory, aboard Ruler On Ice. 

Above:  Animal Kingdom, after a disastrous start, finishes a respectable sixth.

Above:  The mud-caked Isn't He Perfect and Rajiv Maragh return for unsaddling.

Above:  A mud-caked Monzon, and Jose Lezcano, after the race.

Above and below:  Master of Hounds, and his rider Garrett Gomez, after a Belmont mudbath.  

Above:  Animal Kingdom and John Velazquez after the Belmont Stakes.

Above:  The mud on Animal Kingdom (left), Johnny Velazquez up, reflects his come-from-behind effort, while frontrunner Shackleford, and Jesus Castanon, are comparatively clean.

 Above and below:  Animal Kingdom, and Johnny Velazquez, after the race.

Above:  Jesus Castanon, Shackleford's rider, after the race.

Above and below:  Jose Lezcano (above) and Shaun Bridgmohan (below).

Above:  Jose Valdivia, Jr., all smiles - with very little mud - after his upset Belmont win.

Above and below:  Popular young trainer Kelly Breen enjoys his first classic victory.

Above:  Owner George Hall and Kelly Breen share a winning hug.

 Above and below:  Ruler On Ice - none too happy about the winning flowers or the celebration.

Above:  Kelly Breen comforts his annoyed Belmont winner.

Above:  The blanket of carnations heads down victory lane before Ruler On Ice.

Above and below:  Winning owners George and Lori Hall lead Ruler On Ice down Belmont's grade I victory lane.

Above and below:  Jose Valdivia, overjoyed in the winner's circle (above).  Below, Kelly Breen lays a grateful pat on Ruler On Ice.

Above:  George and Lori Hall, Kelly Breen, and Jose Valdivia, Jr., enjoy their win in the 2011 Belmont Stakes.

Above:  America's newest classic winner is Ruler On Ice, by Roman Ruler - Champagne Glow, by Saratoga Six.  Bred by Liberation Farm and Brandywine Farm, Ruler On Ice is owned by George and Lori Hall, trained by Kelly Breen and ridden by Jose Valdivia, Jr.

Above:  With an eye toward the future, Ruler On Ice heads out of the Belmont Stakes winner's circle.  Congratulations to all of this handsome horse's connections and backers!

sherpa More than 1 year ago
Barbara, this is without a doubt the best series of pictures taken throughout one race that I have ever seen. It is so cool that there can be several photos of essentially the same moment in the race, but all from slightly different angles, because taken by several different photographers. It's even better than video replay! WOW! It's great, too, to see before-and-after pictures of most of the runners. Usually, those would be limited to the winner and the only way to see non-winners after the race is to be at trackside, in person. How many times have I watched a race and wish wish wish I could see how some of the others look when it's over? Many times! ;-D Kudos to you, Michael Amoruso, Tom Keyser, Justin N. Lane, Kim Pratt, Debra A. Roma, Emily Shields for the super photos (and to John Bambury for his assistance)...and of course to Ruler On Ice, the Halls, Kelly Breen and the great Jose V. for a race perfectly run - and won! I loved it!
Patti Reeves More than 1 year ago
Love the photos! Great job to all the photographers who really captured the moment, AND the mud!
Anne More than 1 year ago
Wow! What an fabulous array of photographs. Weather wise, the day must have been challenging by itself besides the fact it was the last leg of the triple crown. My take on the outcome was a sealed track. One horse had run on one successfully and that was the winner. Castellano was having an awesome day so...few dollars on him. The following horses were all legit. Horse races can be extremely humbling experiences. This one was certainly no different. And the beat goes on.... Thanks for sharing your fabulous "team" photos, Barbara. They all captured the moments of the day in an exceptional fashion. I am sure you were all ready for a nice hot shower after that day. Jobs well done! The Form, once again, had the best photos of the Belmont Stakes thanks to you and your organization skills. I must also say... Mr. Valdivia is one handsome fellow.
Celeste More than 1 year ago
Wow!! What an amazing photo essay that tells such a great story! Thank you so much for sharing these wonderful photos which help deepen my appreciation for all those participants in this race. It is definitely a Belmont stakes to remember and your photos clearly show just why. Thank you!
Harry Bassett More than 1 year ago
Well, at least, Ruler On Ice might give ROI a new meaning(+24). And his name will live on as 2011 Belmont Champ! Thanks.
Darlene Sanner More than 1 year ago
the whole story told beautifully Thank you very much
Sue R-CT More than 1 year ago
Awesome work as always, from Team Barbara! Yeah!
Cheryl Yeoman More than 1 year ago
Thanks Barbara for you and your fellow photographers outstanding coverage of the Belmont Stakes.The photos are so clear,I could almost feel the mud on my face.This is the best coverage of the race that I have seen yet!
Carmen More than 1 year ago
Miss Livingston, as usual, brilliant. Thank you.
tony More than 1 year ago
Great work by barbara and her team. Those florescent orange and purple silks were a nice contrast to all the mud and gloomy day.