NYRA delays opening of Belmont Park spring/summer meet
by NYRA Press Office
Date for 152nd Belmont Stakes to be determined
The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) today announced that the opening of the Belmont Park spring/summer meet will be delayed due to the continuing impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Highlighted by the 152nd running of the Belmont Stakes on June 6, the 51-day Belmont Park spring/summer meet was originally scheduled to begin on April 24 and conclude on July 12.
"We are working closely with the New York State Gaming Commission and public health officials to determine a timeline for the resumption of live racing at Belmont Park," said NYRA CEO and President Dave O'Rourke. "The health and safety of our racing community is paramount, and any decisions or necessary adjustments to the racing schedule and operations must reflect that priority. I'd like to thank New York's horsemen and the backstretch community for their dedication and patience as we navigate these uncertain times together."
With regard to the 2020 Belmont Stakes, NYRA is continuing to assess various options in consultation with all appropriate parties. Currently scheduled for June 6, these options include shifting the race to a later date.
"The Belmont Stakes is a New York institution and American tradition," said O'Rourke. "We are committed to running the race in 2020 and aim to deliver an announcement in the very near future."
Beginning on April 17, and with specific approval required by NYRA, trainers previously stabled at Belmont will be allowed to ship in horses who have been relocated during the COVID-19 crisis. To align with health department guidance and reduce the spread of the coronavirus, NYRA will not allow these outsider shippers to be accompanied by staff not previously working at Belmont.
The Belmont backstretch, which is home to 585 workers who tend to the essential daily care of the more than 1,300 thoroughbreds currently stabled on the property, has remained open to horsemen and operational for training. Owners are not permitted access to the backstretch until further notice.
Live racing on the NYRA circuit was last conducted on Sunday, March 15 at Aqueduct Racetrack. The Big A winter meet was scheduled to run through Sunday, March 29 until NYRA suspended racing on March 19 due to changing circumstances in the racing community relative to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
On April 1, NYRA announced the cancellation of the remainder of the Aqueduct winter meet as well as the Big A spring meet, which had been scheduled for April 2 through April 19.
For the safety of the Belmont backstretch community, a number of safeguards recommended by the Preparedness and Response Plan Committee have been in place since early March:
• NYRA is following best practices established by the New York State Department of Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control with regard to cleaning high touch areas and facilities
• Posting of coronavirus related signage in English and Spanish across the backstretch noting key information regarding social distancing, handwashing techniques, and a hotline to call for workers feeling the onset of symptoms
• Access to enter Belmont Park was restricted to Gate 6 and all workers, including licensed horsemen, that do not live on the backstretch are subject to a standard health assessment including temperature check
• The Belmont Park grounds are closed to ship-in horses with the exception of horses in extenuating circumstances subject to NYRA.
• To eliminate congestion and encourage social distancing, a number of common areas have been closed or had their service modified including the recreation center, Morning Line café, track kitchen and clockers stand. The Morning Line café and track kitchen are providing grab-and-go food options to align with guidance from the New York State Department of Health. The clockers stand has been closed to all but essential safety personnel.
For more information, please visit https://www.nyra.com/belmont/.
About the New York Racing Association
The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) holds the exclusive franchise to conduct thoroughbred racing at Aqueduct Racetrack, Belmont Park and Saratoga Race Course.
NYRA tracks are the cornerstone of New York State's thoroughbred industry, which is responsible for 19,000 jobs and more than $3 billion in annual statewide economic impact.
Accredited by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association Safety and Integrity Alliance, NYRA is a founding member of the Thoroughbred Safety Coalition, a group of the nation's leading racing organizations working collaboratively to advance safety reforms across the sport.
Over the course of 217 days of live racing in 2019, NYRA generated more than $2.1 billion in all-sources wagering handle with paid attendance exceeding 1.5 million.
About the Belmont Stakes.
The Belmont Stakes is an American tradition inaugurated in 1867 at Jerome Park Racetrack and moved in 1905 to its familiar home at beautiful Belmont Park. As the third leg of racing's Triple Crown, the 1 ½-mile "Test of the Champion," as the Belmont Stakes is known, has showcased many of history's greatest thoroughbreds.
Two of those Triple Crown triumphs have come in the last five years, with American Pharoah ending a 37-year Triple Crown drought in 2015 and Justify capping a perfect 6-for-6 career with a Triple Crown-clinching effort in 2018.
The 152nd running of the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes is currently scheduled to be contested on Saturday, June 6 as the highlight of the three-day Belmont Stakes Racing Festival.
For additional information, visit BelmontStakes.com.