Saratoga steps in to host Belmont Stakes as track undergoes renovation

Featured image credit: UpstateNYer/CC BY-SA 3.0 DEED/Edited for size

Featured image credit: UpstateNYer/CC BY-SA 3.0 DEED/Edited for size

New York Governor Kathy Hochul has announced that next year’s edition of the Belmont Stakes horse racing event will be held at Saratoga Race Course while Belmont Park undergoes major redevelopment work.

The relocation will allow for the uninterrupted construction of a new and reimagined Belmont Park, which is in Long Island. Saratoga Race Course is around 200 miles north, in Saratoga Springs.

Next year’s Belmont Stakes will take place from June 6-9. The four-day festival will include 23 stakes races with purses totalling $9.7m (£7.7m/€9m).

The Belmont Stakes has taken place at Belmont Park since 1905 and was previously held at Jerome Park Racetrack in the Bronx. For next year’s event, the Belmont Stakes will be contested at 1.25 miles rather than the traditional 1.5 miles due to the configuration of Saratoga’s main track.

Next year will mark the first time the Belmont Stakes has taken place at Saratoga, although the race was moved to Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens from 1963 to 1967 when Belmont Park last underwent significant renovation work.

NYRA president and chief executive David O’Rourke said: “Thanks to Governor Hochul’s support for a new and modernised Belmont Park, NYRA will soon be able to bring the Belmont Stakes to Upstate New York for the first time in history.

“Beyond the excitement and energy around a Triple Crown event at the sport’s most beloved venue, the Belmont Stakes at Saratoga Race Course will generate important economic impact and drive tourism throughout the Capital Region. We are thrilled to add a new chapter to the story of thoroughbred racing in Saratoga Springs this June.”

O’Rourke added that Saratoga will likely host the race again in 2025 while work continues at Belmont Park.

In May, the NYRA secured a $455m loan from New York State to build new thoroughbred racing facilities at Belmont Park. The NYRA said the redevelopment will be “one of the most significant racetrack construction projects in modern memory” and will go ahead with no cost to taxpayers.

The centrepiece of the reimagined Belmont Park will be a new building that will completely replace the existing grandstand and clubhouse. Belmont Park is located next to UBS Arena, home of the NHL’s New York Islanders.

The new grandstand at Belmont Park will dramatically increase the amount of parkland available to fans throughout the year by expanding the current backyard. New vehicular and pedestrian tunnels allowing access to the 45-acre infield will also provide fans and the surrounding community with more open space than before.

Following the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival at Saratoga, the NYRA circuit will return to Aqueduct Racetrack for the remainder of its spring meet before racing shifts back to Saratoga for the annual 40-day summer meet, starting on July 11.