Saratoga may take Belmont Stakes temporarily

Saratoga may take Belmont Stakes temporarily

The Belmont Stakes in Elmont could be moved to Saratoga Race Course in upstate New York as soon as next year while Belmont Park undergoes major renovations. 

The New York Racing Association in June announced its intention to hold the stakes in Saratoga for 2024 and 2025. 

“As a result of the progress made on important capital projects throughout the summer, NYRA envisions holding the Belmont Stakes at historic Saratoga Race Course in both 2024 and 2025 to allow for the uninterrupted construction of a new and completely re-imagined Belmont Park,” Pat McKenna, NYRA’s VP of communications, said in a statement to Blank Slate Media.

A final decision on Belmont’s location for the next two years is expected in the coming months and is subject to the approval of the Franchise Oversight Board and New York State Gaming Commission.

Belmont Park 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. 

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

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 expected to begin following the 2024 Belmont Stakes and be completed by the 2026 race.

There are currently no plans to move the stakes away from its current home in Elmont or change it from its traditional spot on the calendar in early June.

“The transformation of Belmont Park will secure the future of thoroughbred racing in New York State, create thousands of good jobs and drive tourism to Long Island and the region for decades to come,” McKenna said. “That’s why the project is so strongly supported by Gov. Hochul, elected officials on Long Island and the towns and villages surrounding Belmont Park.”

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 followed by Affirm in 1978 and American Pharaoh in 2015.

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