And just like that, the Triple Crown of thoroughbred racing is over.
Essential Quality won the Belmont Stakes on Saturday evening, earning $800,000 in prize money. The Brad H. Cox-trained colt came in fourth in the Kentucky Derby. He also did his lineage proud, becoming the fourth Belmont winner to be sired by Tapit.
The Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes still didn't look quite as they usually do in 2021 as measures were taken to mitigate COVID-19, but things certainly felt more normal than in 2020, when the three legs of the Triple Crown were run out of order: Belmont Stakes in late June, Kentucky Derby in early September and Preakness Stakes in October.
The 153rd running of the Belmont Stakes was held on its usual timeline this year, a Saturday in June three weeks after the Preakness Stakes.
There was no Triple Crown at stake this year, as the Bob Baffert-trained Medina Spirit won the Kentucky Derby (and just this week had a positive test result for betamethasone confirmed), and Rombauer took the Preakness with last-second heroics.
Even if Medina Spirit has his Derby win wiped out, the title would then go to Mandaloun. Medina Spirit was not allowed to enter the Belmont Stakes. In fact, the New York Racing Association banned Baffert from entering horses at races on any New York tracks.
Still, the winner of the Belmont Stakes had a nice prize purse on the line. Let's take a closer look at how the prize purse breaks down among this year's top finishers in Elmont, New York.
The Belmont Stakes boasts the second-highest purse of the three Triple Crown races, at $1.5 million. Last year, during the height of the pandemic, the purse fell to $1 million.
The Kentucky Derby had the highest purse of the three thoroughbred races this season ($3 million), while the Preakness Stakes had the lowest, at $1 million.
If you notice that many horses we watched run the Derby sat out the Preakness and then returned for the Belmont Stakes, that prize purse is a big factor.
Hot Rod Charlie, Essential Quality, Known Agenda and Rock Your World ran in the Derby, skipped the Preakness Stakes and returned for the Belmont Stakes.
Heading into the Belmont Stakes, Essential Quality's lifetime earnings were $2,415,144, according to the Belmont Stakes' website. With his $800,000 share of the purse Saturday, his total earnings rise to 3,215,144.