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5 Most Memorable Belmont Upsets
The Belmont Stakes is one of the most prestigious horse races in the world. Known as the “Test of the Champion,” it’s the final leg of the Triple Crown, following the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes. The race's grueling 1.5-mile distance tests the endurance and stamina of even the most accomplished horses, making it a true spectacle for horse racing enthusiasts.

Over the years, the Belmont Stakes has witnessed several unexpected outcomes that have shocked fans and bettors alike. These upsets, where underdogs triumph over favorites, are what make the event so thrilling and unpredictable. They remind us that in horse racing, anything can happen, no matter the odds or the hype surrounding a particular horse.

In this post, we'll take a closer look at some of the most memorable upsets in Belmont Stakes' history. Check them out here.
Sarava (2002)
The 2002 Belmont Stakes saw one of the biggest upsets in the race's history when Sarava, a 70-1 long shot, stunned the racing world by defeating the favorite, War Emblem. War Emblem was heavily favored to win and secure the Triple Crown after victories in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. However, it was Sarava, ridden by jockey Edgar Prado, who crossed the finish line first, much to the astonishment of the crowd.

Belmont Stakes betting made this upset even more remarkable. War Emblem's bid for the Triple Crown had attracted significant attention, and many bettors were confident in his chances. The unexpected victory by Sarava disrupted these predictions and led to substantial payouts for those who had placed their bets on the underdog.
Birdstone (2004)
In 2004, Birdstone pulled off a stunning upset by defeating Smarty Jones, the overwhelming favorite, in the Belmont Stakes. Smarty Jones had captured the hearts of fans with his impressive wins in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, and many believed he was destined to win the Triple Crown. However, Birdstone, ridden by Edgar Prado, had other plans.

The upset was a major shock to the racing community. Smarty Jones had been viewed as a near-certainty to break the Triple Crown drought since 1978. Birdstone's victory not only dashed these hopes but also underscored the unpredictable nature of horse racing, where no outcome is ever guaranteed.

Birdstone was trained by Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito and came from a strong racing lineage. He is a son of the 1996 Kentucky Derby winner Grindstone. Despite his pedigree, Birdstone had a modest racing record until his win in the 2004 Belmont Stakes.
Da' Tara (2008)
Another significant upset occurred in the 2008 Belmont Stakes when Da' Tara, a 38-1 long shot, defeated Big Brown, who was aiming to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978. Big Brown dominated in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes and was widely expected to complete his Triple Crown bid successfully.

Da' Tara's victory was a major shock, particularly given Big Brown's dominance in the earlier Triple Crown races. The upset demonstrated the challenges of the Belmont Stakes, where the longer distance can be a formidable obstacle even for the most talented horses. Big Brown's unexpected defeat was a reminder that the outcome is never certain in horse racing until the finish line is crossed.
Tonalist (2014)
In 2014, Tonalist shocked the racing world by winning the Belmont Stakes and denying California Chrome a Triple Crown victory. California Chrome had captured the public's imagination with his wins in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, and there was widespread anticipation that he would become the 12th Triple Crown winner.

Tonalist's victory was a significant upset, as California Chrome had been the clear favorite. The race highlighted the Belmont Stakes' reputation as the most challenging leg of the Triple Crown, where many favorites have fallen short. Tonalist's win was a testament to the unpredictable nature of the sport and the difficulty of achieving a Triple Crown.
Creator (2016)
The 2016 Belmont Stakes saw another surprise when Creator, a 16-1 long shot, edged out Destin in a thrilling finish. While the race did not feature a Triple Crown contender, the upset was still significant, as many had expected more prominent horses to win.

Before the Belmont Stakes, Creator had an inconsistent racing record despite being trained by Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen and owned by WinStar Farm, one of the top Thoroughbred racing stallion and breeding operations in North America. He won the Arkansas Derby but failed to make an impact in the Kentucky Derby.

His victory in the Belmont Stakes demonstrates that even horses with fluctuating performances can achieve greatness on the right day. It was also a reminder of the unpredictable nature of any horse race, where long shots often have a chance to shine.
Final Thoughts
These upsets make the Belmont Stakes more exciting and unpredictable. However, this list isn't complete, and there are many more stories to discover. If you want to know more about the thrilling history of the Belmont Stakes, keep reading and stay informed about this fascinating sport.