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The 5 biggest long-shot winners in Belmont Stakes history

The Belmont Stakes is the oldest leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown, having first been run in 1867.

Two of the biggest long shots to ever win the event, a traditional 1½-mile race known as the “test of the champion,” cashed tickets in the 21st century.

Here are the five biggest long-shot winners in Belmont Stakes history:

5. Pass Catcher, 1971

Pass Catcher denied Canonero II from winning the Triple Crown when he cashed tickets as a 34-1 long shot. United States Racing Hall of Fame jockey Walter Blum rode Pass Catcher to the upset victory in front of one of the largest Belmont Stakes crowds of the 20th century. More than 80,000 people were in attendance to cheer on Canonero II, the Venezuelan colt who had won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.

4. Birdstone, 2004

Birdstone ended Smarty Jones’ bid to become the first Triple Crown winner in 26 years in dramatic fashion, surging past the heavy favorite in the final stretch to win the Belmont Stakes as a 36-1 long shot.

The crowd was stunned.

“We came to see a coronation and instead we got a sporting event,” said John Hendrickson, the husband of Birdstone owner Marylou Whitney. “I’ve never seen a crowd of 120,000 people where it went from roaring to dead silence.”

Whitney apologized for spoiling Smarty Jones’ Triple Crown bid in the winner’s circle.

“I’m sorry, sorry, sorry Smarty Jones couldn’t win,” she said.

3. Temperence Hill, 1980

Temperence Hill won the 1980 Belmont Stakes at 53-1 odds, surging past Kentucky Derby winner Genuine Risk in the stretch to win by two lengths. The horse paid $108.80, $32.80 and $15.20.

2. Sherluck, 1961

Sherluck denied favorite Carry Back the Triple Crown with a stunning win at 65-1 odds. Sherluck had only won once in his 10 starts that year going into the race.

1. Sarava, 2002

Sarava denied War Emblem the Triple Crown in 2002 while rewarding bettors who backed him at 70-1 odds.

War Emblem stumbled out of the gate. That paved the way for Sarava, who beat Medaglia d’Oro by a half length, to become the longest-priced winner in Belmont Stakes history.

Sarava trainer Ken McPeek was as shocked as anybody by the upset. He said after the race he had made only a small $10 win-place wager on his horse. The ticket was worth $962.50, but he said he planned to keep it a souvenir.

“I don’t think I’ll ever cash it,” he said.

Sarava paid $142.50, $50 and $22.40 across the board.

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on X.

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