Thursday, 07 December 2023 13:48

Four-Day Belmont Festival Coming to Saratoga in June

Photo courtesy of NYRA. Photo courtesy of NYRA.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The city long-called The August Place To Be was granted a late springtime addition to that moniker with this week’s official announcement naming Saratoga Race Course as the staging ground for June’s four-day Belmont Stakes Racing Festival. 

“Saratoga now adds to its storied history by hosting the third leg of the Triple Crown,” Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Dec. 6, inspiring thoughts of warmer climes on a day when the local community saw the gentle tumble of errant flurries.  “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.” 

The four-day Belmont Stakes Racing Festival will be staged Thursday, June 6 through Sunday, June 9. The Belmont Stakes race will run Saturday, June 8. No changes are anticipated regarding Saratoga’s 40-day summer meet. 

The relocation of the stakes race and its associated four-day festival will allow for the uninterrupted construction of a new Belmont Park on Long Island. And while construction is anticipated to go on at least through the 2025 Belmont Stakes season, only the 2024 festival at Saratoga was announced this week. 

“It is a temporary situation, and we hope to be even further ahead of schedule so we can end sooner, but it’s good to at least have an alternative to shutting down Belmont completely, and can take the races elsewhere in the state,” Gov. Hochul said at a presser shortly after the Belmont announcement.   

The four-day festival at Saratoga Race Course will include 23 stakes races in total with purses totaling $9.7 million.

The New York Racing Association began signaling earlier this year that some Belmont races would be shifted to Saratoga. Statements punctuated with optimism from the political and tourism worlds alike were issued with a ferocity shortly after Wednesday morning’s announcement, showcasing the affair as a driver of tourism, a major boon for the economy, an inspiration to partner with new stakeholders and something to further showcase the region’s world-class attractions. 

A different track brings with it additional changes:  due to the configuration of Saratoga’s main track, the Belmont Stakes will be contested at 1 1/4 miles in 2024 rather than the traditional 1 1/2 miles, pending the approval of the North American Graded Stakes Committee.

Inaugurated in 1867 at Jerome Park Racetrack and moved in 1905 to Belmont Park, the Belmont Stakes has notably provided Secretariat’s 31-length victory in 1973 and American Pharoah successfully ending a 37-year Triple Crown drought in 2015. The race was staged at Aqueduct Racetrack from 1963-1967 when Belmont Park last underwent significant renovations. 

Following the conclusion of the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival at Saratoga, the NYRA circuit will return to Aqueduct Racetrack for the remainder of the spring meet before racing shifts to Saratoga for the annual 40-day summer meet beginning Thursday, July 11. The fall meet customarily held at Belmont Park will again be shifted to Aqueduct Racetrack in 2024 while construction of a new Belmont Park continues.

Ticket packages and pricing for the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival at Saratoga Race Course will be available in early 2024.

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