Poor Air Quality Closes Belmont Park for Thursday Racing

Poor Air Quality Closes Belmont Park for Thursday Racing
Fact Checked by Pat McLoone

There will be no live racing at Belmont Park in Elmont Thursday afternoon. 
The New York Racing Association (NYRA) announced early this morning that the 10-race card at Belmont Park (first post at 3:05 p.m.) has been canceled due to poor air quality conditions caused from the Canadian wildfires that continue to blanket Long Island and all of New York State. 
Thursday’s co-featured Grade 2, $200,000 Wonder Again and $150,000 Jersey Girl will be re-scheduled for Sunday. Those races will be brought back as extras for Sunday's card and will be re-drawn today.

The news comes on a big weekend for racing and New York sports betting, with the 155th running of the Belmont Stakes scheduled for Saturday.

On Wednesday, the NYRA announced that morning training at  Saratoga Race Course and Belmont were cancelled.

“Safety is paramount as we navigate this unprecedented situation,” said NYRA president & CEO David O’Rourke in a news release. “NYRA will actively monitor all available data and weather information as we work toward the resumption of training and racing both here at Belmont Park and at Saratoga Race Course. Based on current forecast models and consultation with our external weather services, we remain optimistic that we will see an improvement in air quality on Friday.”

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul also expressed the need to keep horses and racing fans safe.

"As New Yorkers continue to experience unhealthy air quality as a result of Canadian wildfires, we must all work to ensure that animals - including these peak-performance equine athletes - are protected," Gov. Hochul said, in a statement. "The measures being implemented at tracks across New York State are effective steps to keep all those who participate in the sport safe now and into the future." 

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Will There Be Racing This Weekend?

The Weather Channel forecast, along with racing highlights, for the next two days in Elmont:

Friday: 69, partly cloudy early followed by increasing clouds with 40% of showers developing later in the day.

Live racing is scheduled to resume with an 11-race card, featuring five graded stakes highlighted by three Grade 1 races: $600,000 New York, $500,000 Just a Game and $500,000 Acorn. The Grade 2, $250,000 Belmont Gold Cup and the Grade 3, $200,000 Intercontinental are also scheduled. First post Friday is scheduled for 12:50 p.m.

Saturday: 74, sunny along with a few clouds with a 5% chance of rain.

The $1.5 million Belmont Stakes - the final jewel of the horse racing’s Triple Crown - headlines a 13-race card featuring nine graded stakes in total. Saturday’s first post is scheduled for 11:20 a.m. ET. Belmont Stakes post positions were drawn Tuesday.

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Belmont Stakes Field

Post PositionHorseTrainerJockeyUpdated Odds
1Tapit ShoesBrad CoxJose Ortiz20-1
2Tapit TriceTodd PletcherLuis Saez3-1
3ArcangeloJena AntonucciJavier Castellano8-1
4National TreasureBob BaffertJohn Velasquez5-1
5Ir MiracoloAntonio SanoMarco Menenses30-1
6ForteTodd PletcherIrad Ortiz Jr.5-2
7Hit ShowBrad CoxManny Franco10-1
8Angel of EmpireBrad CoxFlavien Prat7-2
9Red Route OneSteve AsmussenJoel Rosario15-1

FanDuel NY, by far the No. 1 New York sports betting app, has odds on the race as well as other horse racing cards around the nation.

Renovations Upcoming at Belmont Park

The news state budget includes language that will allow the NYRA to use a $455 million loan to massively upgrade Belmont Park

The centerpiece of the new Belmont Park, which last was renovated in 1968, will be a new building that will completely replace the existing grandstand and clubhouse.

There also are plans for the NYRA to build more new housing to support the folks living and working at Belmont and modernize the barn area.

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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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