The Triple Crown could be contested on the famed dirt at Saratoga Race Course in the future if renovations at Belmont Park are not completed.
The New York Racing Association has approved funds to make improvements to Belmont Park, located near Queens, beginning next spring following the 2024 Belmont Stakes.
The 117-year-old venue is known for hosting that iconic race, which is one-third of horse racing’s Triple Crown. It’s possible that the prolonged renovations at the site, which include the addition of a synthetic track on the infield, will prevent the 2025 Belmont Park from being held there. The NYRA estimates the costs of the construction and renovation project to be in the neighborhood of $455 million.
Belmont to receive $455 million face lift
More than 50 years have passed since significant upgrades and renovations have taken place at Belmont Park which is located at 2150 Hempstead Turnpike, in Elmont. That was way back in 1968, and not only have men walked on the moon since those changes to Belmont, but many new developments have also altered horse racing in New York.
The plan calls for the winterizing of the primary race track, a redesign of the grandstand, as well as landscaping and alterations to the infield.
A new synthetic surface track will give Belmont four tracks in total, and allow for the hosting of many new events, as well as a possible extension of the race season.
The renovation project, which required approval from the New York State Franchise Oversight Board, will also add more parking, and build a new clubhouse. Governor Kathy Hochul has been in support of the plan to update Belmont Park, which is a New York historical site and a tourist attraction. Efforts to fund a renovation started more than three years ago.
According to state senator Joe Addabbo, the Belmont Racetrack renovation could create as many as 4,000 jobs during the course of the project.
Belmont Park was opened in 1905, and its racing season typically commences from April through mid-July, or what is commonly referred to as Spring Meet. It’s operated by the New York Racing Association as part of the NYRA trio of tracks, with Saratoga and Aqueduct Racetrack.
The main track at Belmont is nicknamed “Big Sandy,” because of its lengthy 1 1/2-mile distance, and wide expanses. Most of the great racehorses in thoroughbred history, including Man O’War, Seabiscuit, and Secretariat, have run on the course.
While Belmont is closed during the project after the 2024 Belmont Stakes, some of its races will be shifted to Aqueduct Racetrack, which is the only track located inside New York City limits.
Saratoga could host 2025 Belmont Stakes
According to reporting by the Times-Union, the NYRA is pondering either Saratoga Racetrack or Aqueduct Racetrack to host the 2025 Belmont Stakes, if renovations at Belmont Park are unfinished.
Saratoga Race Course has never hosted an official Triple Crown race. Its biggest annual event is the Travers Stakes, which is held in August and is known as “the Mid-Summer Derby.”
If the Belmont Stakes is held at Saratoga in 2025, it could provide a few changes to the event. The track is shorter than Belmont Park, at 1 1/4 miles. Also, Saratoga can accommodate as many as 100,000 spectators between its grandstand and infield/overflow areas. That would be much larger than the 40-50,000 that Belmont Park can handle.
The Belmont Stakes is the oldest of the three Triple Crown races, which also includes the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. The Belmont is the final leg of the triple crown. It was first competed in 1867, though that race was held at Jerome Park Racetrack, located in the Bronx. It has been held at Belmont Park since the track opened in 1905.