Renovations to the aging Belmont Park, home of the Triple Crown’s Belmont Stakes, could move the famed race to Saratoga Race Course in 2025.
While the one-year move to Saratoga isn’t guaranteed, New York Racing Association (NYRA) Vice President of Communications Pat McKenna told Albany’s Times Union the track would be the top choice if the race had to be moved:
“Should the construction at Belmont Park require the Belmont Stakes be run at a different venue then NYRA’s preference would absolutely be to hold the event at historic Saratoga Race Course. … A Belmont Stakes at Saratoga is an event that would capture the attention of the entire sports world while driving tourism and economic impact for upstate New York.”
Saratoga says it’s ready to host the Belmont Stakes
Saratoga Race Course is located roughly three-and-a-half hours away from Belmont’s Long Island home in Elmont. The track is a legendary one itself; it’s the third-oldest track in the country and home to the oldest notable Thoroughbred race in the country, The Travers.
The property is about 100 acres smaller than Belmont. Its grandstand can accommodate 50,000 people compared to the more than 90,000 at Belmont’s grandstand. Saratoga’s attendance record is 72,745 (2007), while Belmont’s record is 120,139 (2004).
Despite having a smaller capacity, Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce President Todd Shimkus believes Saratoga can do a fantastic job babysitting the Belmont for a year.
“If a Triple Crown victory was on the line in 2025, no doubt that would be big or bigger than anything we might imagine,” Shimkus told the Times-Union. “The novelty and history of the whole event is likely to create quite a buzz with hopefully record crowds here and on television…You could tell us tomorrow and we’d be ready.”
And while running the Belmont at Saratoga isn’t a guarantee, Shimkus said local businesses are already planning for the 2025 race.
“Our local hospitality leaders are over-the-moon excited to host the Belmont Stakes here in Saratoga whenever that may be,” Shimkus said. “Hotels and hospitality have already factored this in for 2025.”
Belmont Park will get much-needed upgrades
The Belmont Park renovations will begin after the 2024 Belmont Stakes and completely transform the facility. Opened in 1906, Belmont Park hasn’t undergone a major overhaul in more than 50 years.
The centerpiece of the project will be a new grandstand and clubhouse that will bring Belmont Park into the modern era. Additionally, the project will provide more parkland for fans, including access to Belmont’s infield.
“NYRA is committed to building a world-class venue that honors the history and traditions of this iconic property within a modernized overall facility,” NYRA President David O’Rourke said in an NYRA press release about the project. “We will deliver a revitalized Belmont Park that will reclaim its place as a global capital of thoroughbred horse racing.”
One of the first steps in the renovation will be to add a 1-mile synthetic oval to Belmont’s inner turf course. The new artificial surface will become the facility’s fourth track. The NYRA expects the track construction will be finished within a year.
Updated Belmont Park should boost its horse racing profile, betting handle
Once Belmont’s overhaul is complete, the track’s post-renovation debut, which should be in 2026, will likely create unprecedented buzz. That bodes well for attendance that year, as well as for the horse racing handle.
The 2023 Belmont Stakes broke a track record for most betting handle in a non-Triple Crown year. June’s race coaxed more than $118.3 million in bets, beating the previous record of $112.7 million in 2021.
Looking to 2026, it’s very likely that the Belmont Stakes could easily pull in more than $120 million in handle. If the Triple Crown is at stake, the handle for the race could approach the record $157.6 million in 2015 when American Pharaoh was the first horse since Secretariat in 1978 to win the Triple Crown.