Belmont Park Open Season, Gets Loan for New Construction

Belmont Park Open Season, Gets Loan for New Construction
Fact Checked by Pat McLoone

Even though all the focus is on Saturday’s Kentucky Derby, another historic racetrack opens its 40-day spring/summer meet this afternoon.

Belmont Park, home of the third jewel of the Triple Crown and a staple in New York sports betting, opens its meet with 54 stakes races worth $15.57 million in total purses. Today's first post is scheduled for 1 p.m.

The schedule, which ends Sunday, July 9, features the 155th running of the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes on June 10. There also are 12 Grade 1 races and the three-day Belmont Stakes Racing Festival from June 8-10.

Opening weekend features the Grade 2, $200,000 Sheepshead Bay for older fillies and mares going 1 3/8 miles on the turf and the Grade 3, $175,000 Westchester for older horses at one-mile on the main track Friday.  Three more stakes will be run Derby Saturday with the Grade 2, $200,000 Ruffian; the Grade 2, $200,000 Fort Marcy; and the Listed $150,000 Elusive Quality, along with two stakes on Sunday.

After the Belmont meet concludes, racing shifts to upstate New York to historic Saratoga Race Course for the annual summer meet, which begins July 13.

With so many teams in the state to consider already on NY betting apps, the state’s great horse racing traditions make for more great options.

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Looking Toward the Future

With a new Fiscal Year 2024 budget finally being passed in the state legislature, Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) announced Monday that one of the new bills - Revenue Article VII Bill (S4009-C/A.3009-C) - includes language authorizing the New York Racing Association (NYRA) to utilize a $455 million loan to build new thoroughbred racing facilities at Belmont Park.

With state approval and all construction at no cost to taxpayers, the centerpiece of the new Belmont Park will be a new building that will completely replace the existing grandstand and clubhouse.

Belmont Park was last renovated in 1968.

“The transformation of Belmont Park will secure the future of thoroughbred racing in New York State, create thousands of good jobs and drive tourism to Long Island and the region for decades to come,” NYRA President & CEO David O'Rourke said in a statement. “We thank Gov. Hochul and our legislative leaders for recognizing the importance of this project to the countless New York families and small businesses reliant on a strong horse racing economy.”

The NYRA also will modernize backstretch housing and barn area facilities throughout the property and build more new housing, including a third dormitory to support the backstretch community living and working at Belmont.

This week’s developments also all but guarantee the return of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships to New York after a lengthy absence.

Last November, the Breeders' Cup announced its commitment to add Belmont Park back to the rotation of host venues following NYRA's modernization of the facility. The Breeders' Cup has not been held at Belmont since 2005 due to the facility's aging infrastructure and lack of winterized hospitality options.

Celebrating opening day and the new Belmont Park announcement, several key state legislators will hold a victory lap of sorts at 12:30 p.m. today in the Winners' Circle,  including State Senators Kevin Thomas, Joseph P. Addabbo Jr., Leroy Comrie, Assemblywoman Michaelle C. Solages and Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow.

FanDuel Passes $9 Billion in Handle

The No. 1 operator in the state, FanDuel NY, passed the milestone of $9 billion in handle since mobile sports betting launched in the Empire State.

The new mark was posted by the New York State Gaming Commission in revenue figures for the week ending April 23.

The numbers for the final week of April will be released later today or tomorrow by the NYSGC.

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Author

Lou Monaco had been East Coast Scene columnist for Gaming Today in Las Vegas since June 2019, covering the East Coast sportsbook scene with emphasis on NJ and PA. He also currently is a part-time writer for the high school sports department for NJ Advanced Media (NJ.com) in Iselin, NJ. Lou has over 30 years sports experience with previous stints at ESPN SportsTicker, Daily Racing Form and Oddschecker.

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