06/09/2011 5:20PM

Top Belmont Stakes rides: Honorable mentions


Listed in chronological order.

Dave Erb, Needles, 1956. Erb narrowly won this competitive race with a big late rally despite a very wide, very rough trip.

George Martens, Summing, 1981. With a smart inside move under light pressure, Martens took Summing to the lead entering the far turn to win narrowly over stretch-running Highland Blade and Derby-Preakness winner Pleasant Colony.

Pat Day, Gulch, 1987. Although Gulch did not win, Day somehow managed to get this confirmed miler to finish strongly and beat Alysheba for third place. An amazing performance considering that Gulch would become champion sprinter in 1988.

Jerry Bailey, Hansel, 1991. Bailey took control on the final turn and widened his lead in the upper stretch, the edge he needed to narrowly hold off Derby winner Strike the Gold.

Julie Krone, Colonial Affair, 1993. Krone turned in a flawless ride to become the first female jockey to win a Triple Crown race. Breaking such a barrier while enduring much scrutiny from the news media underscored the degree of difficulty and significance of her victory.

Chris McCarron, Touch Gold, 1997. McCarron took the lead inside early but decided to restrain Touch Gold and go to the outside on the backstretch. He gained ground on the final turn before steering Touch Gold far outside in midstretch to keep from the view of Derby and Preakness winner Silver Charm. Victory came with one final surge before Silver Charm and his jockey, Gary Stevens, could react.

Edgar Prado, Birdstone, 2004. Prado patiently took advantage of a fast pace to beat Smarty Jones, one of many good horses unable to complete the Triple Crown sweep after becoming too much involved in the quick tempo of the race.

John Velazquez, Rags to Riches, 2007. The filly had royal Belmont Stakes breeding -- she was the sister to 2006 Belmont Stakes winner Jazil -- but Velazquez contributed to her narrow victory over Preakness winner Curlin with a key strategic decision born from workouts that Rags to Riches had in company with Louisiana Derby winner Circular Quay at Keeneland in April. Circular Quay beat the filly in two drills while keeping her inside, but Velazquez noted that Rags to Riches was more fluid when she turned the tables on Circular Quay and beat him in a similar drill when she was on the outside. In the Belmont, Velasquez made sure to keep Rags to Riches outside of Curlin, giving up the shortest route home but getting her to extend fully and run the race of her life. That choice made the ultimate, small difference in the filly’s victory over the future Horse of the Year.

Top 10 Belmont Stakes rides >>