History Timeline 1860s

Photo above: President Abraham Lincoln. Courtesy National Archives. Right: Lithograph of Fort Sumter. Image courtesy Library of Congress.

Fort Sumter

U.S. Timeline - The 1860s

The Civil War

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  • Timeline

  • 1867 - Detail

    June 19, 1867 - The first running of the Belmont Stakes occurs at Jerome Park race track. The race was won by filly Ruthless at 1 5/8 mile with a winning purse of $1,850. The Belmont Stakes is the oldest of the three American Triple Crown races.

    New Jerome Park

    When we think of the Triple Crown of horse racing, what comes up first in most people's minds, is the Kentucky Derby. But, from a longevity standpoint, it was not the first, actually the third, of the races initially run. The Belmont Stakes has that distinction. On June 19, 1867, only two years after the Civil War ended, the first race was run.

    It was conceived by August Belmont, a New York politician, businessman, and society leader, run on a Thursday, and raced at one mile and five furlongs during its 1867 run. While it was the oldest stakes race of today's Triple Crown; three races actually predate it; the Phoenix Stakes (1831), the Queens Plate in Canada (1860), and the Travers at Saratoga (1864). It has been held at four different tracks; Jerome Park, Morris Park, Aqueduct, and today's Belmont Park in Elmont, New York, since 1968. While today we know the Belmont Stakes as the longest of the Triple Crown races at one mile and one half, it has been held at various distances over the last century and a half. The first at a mile and five furlongs; others at a mile and furling, mile and three furlings, and a mile and a quarter.

    So what were the initial purses like? There was a $200 entry fee for the first race. Winning purse in 1867, $1,850.

    What was the biggest margin of victory and who holds the record by time at the one and one half mile distance. In what some think is the most impressive sporting achievement of all-time, including human, Secretariat won the Belmont Stakes to win his Triple Crown Champion title in 1973. He won by thirty-one lengths in a world record time of 2:24.

    The first race was not that fast, but it was historic. The filly Ruthless won with Gilbert Patrick in the saddle. She was trained by A. Jack Minor and owned by businessman Francis Morris. The time was 3:05 on a heavy track. Oddly, only twenty-three fillies have ever run in the Belmont Stakes. Three have won.

    New York Times Article, June 20, 1867

    THE SECOND RACE - "THE BELMONT STAKES," followed; it was for three-year-olds only, $200 subscription, half forfeit, with $1,500 added; the second horse receiving $300 out of the stakes, besides a beautiful English saddle, manufactured by MERRY, the celebrated English maker of St. James street, London, and which was the liberal present of one of the stewards of the Club. The following horses were entered: 1. Mr. CAMERON's b.c. Hampton Court; 2. Mr. FORBES' ch. c. De Courcey; 3. Mr. JEROME'S b.f. Redwing; 4 and 5. Mr MORRIS' Monday, and his b.f. Ruthless; 6. Mr. BELMONT'S b.f. Maid of Honor; 7. Mr. UNDERWOOD'S ch. c. Metairie; 8. Mr. J.M. CLAY'S b.c. Rivoli; 9. Mr. ALEXANDER'S blk. c Virgil; 10. Mr. JEROME'S ch.c. Yorke, and 11. Capt. T.G. MOORE'S b.f. Fanny Cheatham. Of this lot, the prestige of Mr. MORRIS' pair of flyers frightened away all but De Courcey and Rivoli, and the long odds of $100 to $20 was freely held on their winning, and as freely taken by the fielders, who strongly fancied the racing-like appearance of Rivoli, a full brother of Arcola and Wegram. In the pools, Mr. Morris' pair sold for $225, and the field $65. This proved a most exciting race, for at the starting, which throughout the day was execrable, De Coucey jumped off a dozen lengths ahead of the favorites, with Rivoli second. Rounding the Club-house turn, Monday passed Rivoli, and they ran thus to the stand the first time round, DeCourcey a length ahead of Monday, and Ruthless and Rivoli a couple of lengths behind. At the Club House bend, Rivoli deprived Monday of second place and laid at De Courcey's saddle-girths for a short distance, but the latter drew away a clean length at the half-mile pole where Monday fell back beaten, and Ruthless was now called upon to do battle for the Holmdell Stable. Ridden admirably by GILPATRICK she gradually drew up to the two leaders, and half way up the quarter stretch, she cut down Rivoli and challenged DeCourcey. The latter seemed to give way for a moment, but CASEY rousing him with the whip, he answered with great gameness, and a splendid race home ensued - Ruthless at last winning by a short neck after a most exciting finish; De Courcey four lengths before Rivoli, who was as far before Monday. Time - 3:05."

    "THE BELMONT STAKES" - For three year olds, one mile and five furlongs; subscription $200, h.f. with $1,500 added. The second horse to receive $300 out of the stakes. A beautiful English race saddle by MERRY, the well-known maker of St. James-street, London, will be presented by one of the stewards to the owner of the horse placed second by the judges.

    F. Morris' b.f. Ruthless - Gilpatrick ..... 1
    P.S. Forbes' ch. c. DeCoursey - Casey ..... 2
    John M. Clay's br. c. Rivoli - Swine ..... 3
    F. Morris' b.c. Monday - Stewart ..... 4
    R.W. Cameron's imp. b.c. Hampton Court ..... dr
    Leonard W. Jerome's b.f. Redwing ..... dr
    A. Belmont's imp. b.f. Maid of Honor ..... dr
    R. Underwood's c.g. Metaire ..... dr
    Leonard W. Jerome's ch. c. Yorke ..... dr
    T.G. Moore's b.f. Fanny Cheatam ..... dr


    Jerome Park

    Jerome Park Racetrack opened in 1866 in the Fordham part of Westchester County, and later annexed into the Bronx. It was built on the Bathgate Estate and financed by Leonard W. Jerome and August Belmont, Sr. Jerome was an American financier from Brooklyn and the maternal grandfather of Winston Churchill. August Belmont, Sr. was a financier as well, but politician who became the head of the Democratic National Committee from 1860 to 1872. Yes, during the Civil War when the party was, in most part, pro-slavery, Belmont supported the Union cause.

    The racetrack was operated by the American Jockey Club. Its clubhouse sat on top of the Bluff above the course. The Belmont Stakes were held at Jerome Park from their inception, 1867, until 1890.

    The track closed on October 4, 1894 to make way for the Jerome Park Reservoir, the watershed for ever growing New York City.

    Image above: Lithograph of a false start at the Jerome Park Racetrack, 1868, Thomas Kelly. Courtesy Wikipedia Commons. Image below: Race for the American Derby, Belmont Stakes 1878, 1878, Currier and Ives. Courtesy Library of Congress. Info source: belmontstakes.com; New York Times; Wikipedia Commons.

    Belmont Stakes, Jerome Park, 1878

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