Spring is only a month away, so it is not too early to start thinking about the 2016 Belmont Stakes. It will be held in Elmont on Saturday, June 11.
Indeed, reserved seats for the third, and final, leg of thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown have been on sale since Thursday, Jan. 28, via Ticketmaster. The Triple Crown series kicks off with the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, May 7, and is followed by The Preakness Stakes in Maryland on Saturday, May 21. Should the same horse finish first in both of those races, they’ll arrive in New York in June with the opportunity to replicate American Pharoah’s historic Triple Crown victory in 2015. Before his win, there had not been a Triple Crown winner since the late 1970s.
The Associated Press identified this month the three horses who lead the current crop of three-year-old thoroughbreds in training—Nyquist, Mohaymen and Mor Spirit. New York racing fans are also keeping an eye on Greenpointcrusader, a potential Derby horse trained by Dominick Schettino. Greenpointcrusader finished second to Mohaymen in the Holy Bull Stakes at Florida’s Gulfstream Park on Saturday, Jan. 30.
While the Belmont Stakes remains that rare major sporting event where you can buy a same-day ticket, the 2015 race showed the importance of planning ahead. Tens of thousands of racing fans had to stand all-day during the 2015 Belmont Stakes card because same-day purchases of either grandstand or clubhouse tickets do not guarantee patrons a seat.
The New York Racing Association (NYRA) has announced that, for the first time, fans purchasing reserved seats through Ticketmaster will be able to preview online their seat location and sightlines. Grandstand reserved seats for the Belmont Stakes begin at $45 per ticket. Preferred grandstand and clubhouse reserved seats cost more, generally because they are either closer to the track or the finish line.
“Ticket sales are far ahead of last year’s levels and, for this reason, we encourage our fans to purchase their tickets in advance and secure their place at the Belmont Stakes,” said John Durso, NYRA’s director of communications and public affairs.
Belmont Stakes Day features 10 stakes races, including the Belmont Stakes itself. The scheduled live entertainment for that day (June 11) includes the U.S. Military Academy’s (USMA) Band, a musical performance from Beautiful, the Broadway show based on the life of legendary songwriter Carole King, as well as the Grammy-nominated Daughtry, who has had four No. 1 hits and won four American Music Awards.
NYRA, however, is also hoping the sport’s aficionados consider visiting Belmont Park on Thursday, June 9, and Friday, June 10, as part of what it bills The Belmont Stakes Racing Festival. Three stakes races will be run on June 9 while six stakes races are to be contested on June 10. The Friday, June 10, program will conclude with a Belmont Stakes Eve concert starring Maddie & Tae, a popular female country music duo. They were nominated for “Vocal Duo of the Year” by the Academy of Country Music Songs.
“The Belmont Stakes Racing Festival is New York’s traditional kickoff to the summer season. In this spirit, and building off the overwhelming success of last year’s Festival, we have built an exciting, three-day mega event featuring championship racing, world-class entertainment and premium hospitality,” stated Chris Kay, NYRA’s chief executive officer and president.
Mike Barry, vice president of media relations for an insurance industry trade group, has worked in government and journalism. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The views expressed in this column are not necessarily those of the publisher or Anton Media Group.