With its spring/summer thoroughbred meet set to open next week, Belmont Park has received a bit of good news.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday that racing fans could return to New York’s tracks starting April 23 at 20% capacity.
“The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) looks forward to welcoming fans back to Belmont Park this spring and to Saratoga Race Course this summer. We thank Gov. Cuomo for the opportunity to host fans at our historic tracks for the first time since the start of the pandemic," NYRA CEO Dave O'Rourke said in a news release. “We will announce ticketing options for fans once we further review the guidelines and protocols set forth for thoroughbred tracks in New York state.”
The NYRA is currently running at Aqueduct Racetrack, then switching to Belmont Park from April 22 through July 11. The 48-day Belmont spring/summer meet features 59 total stakes races worth $16.95 million in total purses.
The third and final jewel of the Triple Crown — the 153rd running of the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes — will be run on June 5. The three-day Belmont Stakes Racing Festival (June 3-5) will have 17 total stakes races, highlighted by eight Grade 1 races on Belmont Stakes Day.
The Saratoga 2021 Summer Meet is scheduled to begin on July 15 and run through Sept. 6. Due to COVID-19 last summer, the Saratoga Meet did not allow fans.
“NYRA has dearly missed the passion and excitement that fans bring to the sport of thoroughbred racing,” O’Rourke said. “Today’s announcement by the governor is one more indication that we are collectively moving toward a return to normalcy.”
NYRA and FOX Sports Partnership
In late March, the NYRA and FOX Sports announced it has expanded its partnership agreement that establishes FOX Sports as the official wagering partner of NYRA Bets and the leading media provider through the next 10 years.
The previous FOX Sports/NYRA media rights agreement provided a FOX Sports subsidiary with an option to acquire a 25% stake in NYRA Bets, an Advance Deposit Wagering (ADW) platform launched in 2016 and available to customers in 30 states across the country. The FOX Sports subsidiary will exercise this option in New York by the summer of 2021, pending final regulatory approval, according to a news release.