Even from a great distance, it was impossible not to get a thrill at the running of the Epsom Derby last weekend from Merry Olde England. After 2 1/2 minutes of suspense, there were five colts on the line, the winning rider was a 46&#45;year&#45;old plugger who finally got his fair chance, and The Queen was in happy attendance, along with more than 100,000 of her subjects.The promoters of the mile and one&#45;half Epsom Derby describe their event as &ldquo;the greatest flat race in the world.&rdquo; This is not true in either the literal or hyperbolic sense. No single event in a sport of such endless variety can lay claim to the greatest in any category. As for the &ldquo;flat&rdquo; part, we know what they mean &ndash; it&rsquo;s not a race for jumpers &ndash; but the Derby does require its competitors to begin by running up a slope to the right, shift to the left side of the course, commence a descent to a left&#45;handed corner so brutal it has been given a name, then face a final straightaway of more than half a mile that trundles down, banks left, and ultimately rises to the finish.By comparison, the Belmont Stakes is about as topographically challenging as a line at Starbucks. Being referred to as &ldquo;the Test of the Champion&rdquo; suggests that the ability to run 12 furlongs at speed remains a valuable breeding commodity, despite evidence to the contrary. But what really keeps the Belmont viable as a race of international interest is the good company it keeps at the distance. The Belmont was first run in 1867 at Jerome Park near what is now the Kingsbridge Heights neighborhood of the Bronx, just south of the Jerome Park Reservoir. With the 151st running coming up on Saturday, the Belmont can boast even greater longevity that its 2,400&#45;meter Southern American cousin, the Gran Premio Carlos Pellegrini, which has been contested every year since 1887. Neither race, however, is a match for the Epsom Derby, first run in 1780.The 2,400&#45;meter Prix de l&rsquo;Arc de Triomphe was invented in 1920 and has been run every year since, with the exception of 1939 and 1940, when France was in the early throes of war with Germany. The mile and one&#45;half King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes is nothing more than an aging Baby Boomer, born in 1951. The 2,400&#45;meter Japan Cup, which did not come along until 1981, was followed in 1984 by the mile and one&#45;half Breeders&rsquo; Cup Turf, which in turn effectively put a knife in the heart of the Washington, D.C. International, formerly North America&rsquo;s most famous mile and one&#45;half grass race, dating from 1952.Only two horses have won more than two of these half&#45;dozen races during a career. In 1971, Mill Reef won the Epsom Derby, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, and the Arc de Triomphe. In 2018, the filly Enable added the Breeders&rsquo; Cup Turf to her 2017 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth and her pair of Arcs.In terms of material reward, both the Japan Cup and the Arc de Triomphe were worth about $5.6 million last year, while the BC Turf came in at $4 million. The 2019 Epsom Derby carried a purse of $2 million compared to the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes on Saturday. The Carlos Pellegrini&rsquo;s $320,000 purse reflected the uncertainty of the Argentine economy, but not the quality of such past winners as Forli, Practicante, and Interaction. Il Mercato, the 2018 Pellegrini winner, is now training with Chad Brown and has a free ride in the 2019 Breeders&rsquo; Cup Turf.When it came to branding, neither the Breeders&rsquo; Cup nor the Japan Cup were particularly creative, while George and Elizabeth, mother and father of the current Queen, speak for themselves. Epsom was derived from the family home of a 7th century Saxon landowner, Pellegrini was a president of Argentina, and the Arc de Triomphe is a monument in the heart of Paris, commissioned in 1806 and completed some 30 years later.August Belmont Sr., who bankrolled Jerome Park, was born August Schoenberg, which means &ldquo;beautiful mountain&rdquo; in German. After settling in New York to work for the Rothschild financial empire, Schoenberg changed his name to Belmont, which means &ldquo;beautiful mountain&rdquo; in French. Presumably, he didn&rsquo;t pick Montebello, which is &ldquo;beautiful mountain&rdquo; in Spanish, because he knew that someday it would be the name of a town leaning up against Los Angeles. Since August Belmont Sr. helped pay for Jerome Park, it was only right that its premier race for 3&#45;year&#45;olds be named in his honor. As a horse owner, Belmont had the good taste to wait until the third running of the Belmont Stakes to run 1&#45;2 with Fenian and Glenelg. His son August Belmont Jr. won the Belmont twice.The interest in this year&rsquo;s Belmont &ndash; bereft of Derby winner Country House, Derby first&#45;place finisher Maximum Security, and scratched Derby favorite Omaha Beach &ndash; is threatened by the imposing field gathering on the same day for the Metropolitan Mile (first run in 1891). However, there should be no complaints. A score in the Belmont gets you a place on the list with Man o&rsquo; War, Citation, and Secretariat. And if history had twisted one way instead of another, they all might have been known as winners of the mile and one&#45;half Schoenberg Stakes.