The Belmont Stakes is moving upstate to Saratoga for the first time, and likely not the last – an expected result due to the massive renovation of Belmont Park on Long Island.
The official announcement came Wednesday from New York Gov. Kathy Hochul. The third leg of racing’s Triple Crown will be run on June 8, 2024 – its usual timeframe – but the traditional 1 ½-mile distance will be reduced to 1 ¼ miles; the purse will be increased by $500,000 to $2 million.
After the New York Racing Association (NYRA) unveiled plans for a $455 million Belmont Park project, it became clear the 156th edition of the “Test of the Champion,’’ would be run elsewhere. And it’s expected the 2025 Belmont will be run at Saratoga Race Course, too, as construction continues downstate.
The distance will be shorter because of the shape of the dirt track at the Spa. In 2020, the Belmont led off the Triple Crown that was run out of order due to the pandemic and contested at 1 1/8 miles with no fans at Belmont Park.
The race will be part of the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival run over four days (June 6-9), with 23 stakes races totaling $9.7 million in purse money. A crowd of up to 50,000 is expected for the Belmont.
“As part of the exciting modernization of Belmont Park, Saratoga now adds to its storied history by hosting the 3rd leg of the Triple Crown,” Hochul said in a news release. “It’s a win for horseracing and for the Capital Region to have the excitement and the ability to host the four-day Festival in June at America’s most historic track. As I said during the 2023 Saratoga Meet, ‘Let’s do it.’”
“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,’’ NYRA President and CEO David O’Rourke said. “We are thrilled to add a new chapter to the story of thoroughbred racing in Saratoga Springs this June.”
The writing team at US Racing is comprised of both full-time and part-time contributors with expertise in various aspects of the Sport of Kings.