Belmont Stakes Preparations Are Underway

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Tonalist (above) won the 2014 Belmont Stakes. This year’s race is being held on Saturday, June 6. (Photo Courtesy of NYRA)
Tonalist (above) won the 2014 Belmont Stakes. This year’s race is being held on Saturday, June 6.
(Photo Courtesy of NYRA)

The outcome of the Saturday, May 16, Preakness Stakes will determine whether a Triple Crown championship is on the line when the nation’s top three-year-old thoroughbreds compete in the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, June 6.

To build further momentum for its marquee event, the New York Racing Association (NYRA) is holding this year a Belmont Stakes Racing Festival, which will kick off on Thursday, June 4, and continue on Friday, June 5, with a total of seven stakes races being held on those two days.
The Belmont Stakes and five other Grade 1 contests (the Acorn, Knob Creek Manhattan, Longines Just a Game, the Met Mile, and the Ogden Phipps) headline Saturday, June 6’s, 13-race card.
Grandstand admission on Saturday, June 6, Belmont Stakes Day, is $15 per person, and tickets are $40 apiece for clubhouse admission. Information about purchasing reserved seats and hospitality packages in advance can be found at www.belmontstakes.com. Grandstand admission on a typical day at Elmont’s Belmont Park is $5 per person.

California Chrome’s unsuccessful Triple Crown bid last year drew more than 100,000 racing fans to Belmont Park, and NYRA chief executive officer and president Christopher K. Kay outlined recently steps which are being taken to enhance 2015’s Belmont Stakes Day experience.

“For the first time on Belmont Stakes Day, two large food truck villages—one in the Backyard and another near the Top of the Stretch—will serve our guests, featuring more than 30 of the most popular New York-area mobile food vendors,” Kay told NYRA’s board of directors, at its April 22 meeting.

“We have also worked to enhance public transportation access to Belmont Park,” Kay added. “Joined by our partners at the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR), we are collectively investing $5 million to fully refurbish the transit rotunda on the west end of the Grandstand, as well as constructing new rail station platforms. This will increase Belmont Station train capacity from eight to 10 cars, and further speed the LIRR’s operations to move customers in and out of the Belmont in a more rapid and efficient manner.”

There will be less of a rush to leave Belmont Park on Saturday, June 6, however, because, for the first time ever, NYRA booked the Goo Goo Dolls, a top-tier national band for a concert which will be performed at the winner’s circle after the day’s final race. The entertainment lineup is being announced this week.

Live music is also on Belmont Park’s agenda on Friday, June 19, Friday, June 26, and Friday, July 3, as its “Party at the Park” Twilight Friday series returns this summer with a special 3 p.m. post time on those three Fridays. The first race traditionally goes off at 1:20 p.m.
Before the calendar turns to June, Belmont Park will celebrate Mother’s Day on Sunday, May 10, with a Family Fun Day. On that date, free roses will be given to all women dining in the Garden Terrace. In addition, there will be photographers available on-site to capture family photos and a contest allowing those who’ve entered the opportunity to win equine-themed jewelry, clothing and accessories.

On Memorial Day, Monday, May 25, thoroughbreds who were born, and bred, in New York State will take center stage on what’s being billed as Big Apple Showcase Day. The Memorial Day card is to feature six stakes races. A farmers market and a jockey and trainer autograph session are additional Memorial Day draws.
Belmont opened its spring/summer session on Wednesday, April 29, and the track’s current meet will continue through Sunday, July 19. New York’s thoroughbreds then head off to Saratoga for the Friday, July 24, start of NYRA’s summer meet. Live racing then returns to Belmont on Friday, Sept. 11.

Mike Barry, vice president of media relations for an insurance industry trade group, has worked in government and journalism. He can be reached at mfbarry@optonline.net.

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Mike Barry, vice president of media relations for an insurance industry trade group, has worked in government and journalism. He can be reached at mfbarry@optonline.net. The views expressed in this column are not necessarily those of the publisher or Anton Media Group.

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