New era on horizon ahead of 155th running of Belmont Stakes

New era on horizon ahead of 155th running of Belmont Stakes
A $455M loan for a new Belmont Park was secured in the New York state budget on May 2. (Photo courtesy of Belmont Park)

There may be no triple crown awarded at the 155th running of Belmont Stakes on Saturday, June 10, but soon enough Belmont Park will further cement itself as a crown jewel for thoroughbred racing in the state–and country. 

Belmont will be redeveloped and reconstructed from scratch as part of a multi-year project secured through a $455 million loan included in this year’s state budget. 

“This is a project that will create thousands of jobs both in the near term through construction-related activity and in the long term will generate billions in economic activity,” New York Racing Association Vice President of Communications Pat McKenna said in an interview with Blank Slate Media.

No taxpayer money will be used in the loan, which will be paid back with racing revenue over 20 years, according to NYRA. The horse racing industry in New York generates $3 billion in annual economic activity while sustaining 19,000 jobs, according to NYRA. 

“NYRA looks forward to providing the kind of world-class venue that both Long Island and New York state deserves,” McKenna said. 

A new state-of-the-art facility at Belmont, which was last renovated in 1968, will also guarantee the return of the Breeders’ Cup, thoroughbred racing’s yearend world championships, to Long Island for the first time since 2005.

The project is currently expected to begin following the 2024 Belmont Stakes and be completed by the 2026 race.

“These are enormous, global events that generate important economic activity in Nassau County, throughout Long Island and throughout the metropolitan area,” McKenna said of the event he said could be thought of as the “Super Bowl of horse racing.”

The Belmont Stakes, the oldest leg of thoroughbred racing’s triple crown along with the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, moved to Elmont in 1905. The inaugural running took place in 1867 at Jerome Park Racetrack in the current-day Bronx.

Belmont was also the scene for Secretariat’s 31-length victory in 1973 to secure the triple crown and in 2015 when American Pharaoh ended the 37-year drought, which began in 1978 after Affirmed. 

Apart from the race itself, fans can take part in the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival, which is headlined by a pre-race performance from Diplo, a three-time Grammy Award-winning artist.  

The three-day festival beginning Thursday, June 8 will also include performances throughout the grounds from the “Mike Fox Trio”, “Black Tie Brass” and “Street Beat Brass.”

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Secretariat’s triple crown sweep, a traveling exhibition will come to Belmont titled “A Tremendous Machine” in reference to announcer Chic Andersen’s call of the Belmont Stakes. 

“We look forward to celebrating the accomplishments and career of Secretariat throughout the weekend,” McKenna said. 

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