None of the horses in Saturday’s Belmont Stakes were racing for the sport’s vaunted Triple Crown. Bettors didn’t seem deterred by that, however, as the amount of money bet on the 2023 Belmont card was higher than any other year in which there was no Triple Crown runner.
The great day for the racebooks became a secondary story, however, when Belmont Park became the site of yet another horse fatality due to an injury the horse sustained while racing. That continues a narrative which has already rocked the horse racing industry this year.
2023 Belmont Stakes day betting surpasses $118 million
According to a news release from the New York Racing Association, the combined amount of money bet on Saturday’s 13 races at Belmont Park surpassed $118.2 million. Excluding years in which one of the horses running was going for the Triple Crown, that sum has never been higher.
The previous Belmont card wagering record for a non-Triple Crown year was $112.7 million. Bettors set that mark in 2021. On the Belmont Stakes itself, the amount of money bet came to $56.5 million. That was down from 2021’s $60.4 million but up from last year’s $50.2 million.
Among the reasons for the strong performance at the racebooks was a lack of action at other high-profile tracks. For example, Churchill Downs had relocated its racing to Ellis Park. The reason for that relocation was unfortunately quite visible at Belmont Park Saturday as well.
Belmont Park becomes site of two equine deaths
Lorenzo Reyes of USA Today reported that within a 24-hour period from Friday to Saturday, two horses running at Belmont Park sustained fatal injuries. Neither of the injuries happened during the Belmont Stakes. The second of the two did happen in the race immediately following the Belmont Stakes, however.
So far this year, four horses became fatally injured while racing at Belmont Park. That is just a third of the similar injuries that have happened at Churchill Downs this year, though. While an investigation is ongoing there, the instances at high-profile tracks have spurred governmental interest.
Bettors either haven’t noticed increased oversight or have taken it as a positive development for equine safety. If measures like Churchill Downs’ relocation become more commonplace and drastic, however, that might affect the industry’s ability to continue to draw record betting amounts.