The 144th running of the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Stakes on Saturday, June 9, is the glittering centerpiece of Belmont Park’s 56-day spring/summer meet, which runs through July 15. The oldest and longest leg of racing’s elusive Triple Crown, the 1 ½-mile Belmont will be supported by four additional graded stakes and The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) is offering a $1 Million Guaranteed All Graded Stakes Pick 4 and a $1 Million Guaranteed Pick 6 on Belmont Day.
Celebrating opening weekend will be live music with the alternative rock band Waiting for Bobby in the backyard on Saturday and the first of 11 Family Fun Days on Sunday. The 83rd running of the Grade 3, $150,000 Westchester kicks off the exciting stakes action on Saturday. A traditional prep for the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap on Memorial Day, the Westchester is the first of Belmont’s 26 graded stakes worth $8.8 million, an increase of more than 25 percent from last year.
The holiday weekend marks the start of the Grade 1 season with a trio of world-class races on May 28: the $750,000 Met Mile, the $400,000 Ogden Phipps for fillies and mares, and the $300,000 Acorn for 3-year-old fillies, which will be run on Memorial Day for the first time. Rounding out the graded stakes action and the $500,000 Guaranteed All Graded Stakes Pick 4 is the Grade 2, $300,000 Sands Point for 3-year-old turf fillies.
In addition to world-class racing, the biggest beach party on Long Island will take place Memorial Day weekend at Belmont Park, with live bands on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, Family Fun Day on Sunday and a Belmont Park Beach Mat giveaway on Memorial Day, free with paid admission while supplies last. Also on Saturday, May 26, Hall of Fame jockeys Steve Cauthen and Jorge Velasquez will sign postcards in the clubhouse commemorating the unforgettable 1978 Triple Crown rivalry between Affirmed and Alydar.
Along with the Belmont Stakes, June 9 will offer a pair of prestigious Grade 1 turf races in the $500,000 Woodford Reserve Manhattan Handicap and the $500,000 Foxwoods Just a Game for fillies and mares, the Grade 2, $400,000 Woody Stephens, presented by VisitNassauCounty.com for 3-year-olds and the Grade 2, $400,000 True North Handicap for sprinters.
Throughout the meet, NYRA’s program for 2-year-olds will be enhanced by a $100,000 bonus for any juvenile who breaks its maiden during Belmont’s spring meet and goes on to win a graded stakes at Saratoga Race Course, Belmont, or Aqueduct Racetrack this year. The meet will offer open maiden special weight races with purses of $70,000 for sprints and $75,000 for routes.
Presented by Corona Light, “Party at the Park” returns for three Fridays beginning June 29 with a special first race post time of 3 p.m. and a party that includes food and drink specials along with a great live concert from Zebra in the backyard at the conclusion of live racing. On Friday, July 6, will bring an Irish Festival with the Mickey Finns and Niall O’Leary’s School of Irish Dance, and on Friday, July 13, Big Shot Tribute Band returns with the ultimate Billy Joel experience!
From start to finish, family activities abound, including the popular “Breakfast at Belmont” program weekend mornings from 7 – 9:30 a.m. and Family Fun Days on Sundays, presented by Coca Cola, except for Belmont Stakes weekend.
The Long Island Rail Road’s “Belmont Special” will run from Penn Station to Belmont Park at 10:58 a.m. and 11:42 a.m. Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, and 10:58 a.m. and 11:51 a.m. on weekends and holidays, effective April 27 through May 13. Return service will be approximately 30 minutes after the last race, with an additional train at 3:42 p.m. weekdays and 4:27 p.m. weekends, effective April 27 through May 13.
First race post time is 12:50 p.m. except for “Party at the Park” (3 p.m.) and Belmont Stakes Day (11:35 am). Live racing is generally conducted Wednesday through Sunday. Belmont Park will be open on Memorial Day, Monday, May 28, with no live racing on Tuesday and Wednesday that week. Belmont Park will also be closed for live racing on Sunday, June 10, and Wednesday, July 11.
Except for Belmont Stakes Day, general grandstand admission and admission to the Belmont Café simulcast area is $3, clubhouse admission is $5, and general parking is free.