She reads horse encyclopedias for enjoyment and can quote race horse statistics like some kids quote sports trivia. ♥
Last year, one of our stops on our spring adventure was in Saratoga Springs, New York, but racing season had not started yet when we visited the track.
This year she really wanted to visit Belmont Park, Elmont, New York, watch a horse race from the stands, and see where Ruffian was buried in the infield.
Did my husband and I share a small smile that we were going to drive our twelve-year old granddaughter through five states to see the burial site of a legendary race horse? Yes, we did.
But, I have to say we had the absolute best day ever because of her excitement, beautiful Belmont Park, the gorgeous horses, and the friendliness and knowledge of the Belmont staff.
We arrived at Belmont when the gates opened so we could walk around before post time and see as many horses as possible. We checked out all the historical photos and trophies, visited the gift shop, ate our lunch in the stands, and saw some great racing on both turf and dirt.
Ruffian, one of the best know three-year old fillies to ever run with the big boys, broke her leg at Belmont. When the leg broke, she kept on running on three legs. After finally coming to a stop, they performed surgery, but it was unsuccessful. Out of respect for her short but very successful racing career and her big heart, she is buried in the infield under the flag pole with her nose facing the finish line.
In 1997, Belmont started a new tradition in the paddock area where the horses are saddled and paraded by installing 4′ cast iron horses and jockeys. After the Belmont Stakes is won, the jockey is painted with the winning horse’s colors.
I know some may think taking a grandchild to a racetrack is an unusual destination, but in our case we plan our trips around what she wants to see and add in some history. And, Belmont Park certainly has history.
The Belmont Stakes first ran in 1867, is listed as one of the top three racetracks in the US, and is the third leg of the legendary Triple Crown.
There is also plenty of eye candy for a gardener including gorgeous flower beds, wonderful container gardens, beautiful ivy, and the giant white pine in the paddock, which is estimated to be around 300 years old.
Watching the Belmont Stakes last Saturday, seeing the thousands of beautiful people fill the stands, the riders mounting the many spectacular horses in the paddock, and seeing Palace Malace beat Orb and Oxbow, was a real thrill.
When Palace Malace won the 2013 Belmont Stakes, he received the winner’s blanket of 300-400 carnations. The large flowers to make this spectacular blanket were imported from either California or Bogata, Columbia. From this Belmont Stakes blanket of carnations comes the name, “The Run for the Carnations.”
In the paddock area, the statue of Secretariat recognizes his win at the Belmont Stakes by 31 lengths competing against four other horses before a crowd of 67,605 on June 9, 1973. Secretariat became the first horse in 25 years to win the Triple Crown.
It has now been 35 years since Affirmed won the Triple Crown in 1978. Every year, we wait for that special horse to win all three races, Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes again.
Adventures with our grandchildren are all fun, but this visit to Belmont Park and then seeing how excited our granddaughter was watching the Belmont Stakes was right up there on our list of best times ever. Do you have a fun trip planned?
If you have a child or grandchild who is into horses including Breyer model horses, they might enjoy my granddaughter’s blog, Horse Daydreamer. 🙂
Granddaughter says: I thought it was really cool seeing where so many famous horses had run.
Linked to Family Home and Life Say it Saturday