Upgrades to Belmont Park mean several significant changes for horse racing fans. Some of them will be temporary adjustments amid those renovations, like a change in venue for the 2024 Belmont Stakes.
The final leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown will shift to Saratoga Race Course for 2024 as industry figures expected. While that will be a temporary boon for Saratoga, the time out for Belmont Park to perform its upgrades could prove worth the expense as well.
NY governor announces 2024 Belmont Stakes relocation
On Dec. 6, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced that the 2024 Belmont Stakes will take place at Saratoga Race Course instead of Belmont Park. A press release from Hochul’s office states that the shift won’t interrupt normal racing schedules.
Saratoga’s normal 40-day summer meet will continue without alteration.
The 2024 Belmont Stakes comes as a big addition to the summer calendar for Saratoga, though. Interest in the event remains high. The 2023 Belmont Stakes set a new record for dollars gambled at over $118 million.
To accommodate that interest, Saratoga will host a four-day festival culminating in the high-profile race. That festival will begin on June 6 and conclude on June 9.
The Belmont Stakes will take bettors’ attention on June 8. The events around the 156th running of the Belmont Stakes will include a total of 23 races for a total of nearly $10 million in winnings available for horses’ teams.
Most notably, the New York Racing Association (NYRA) increased the prize for the Belmont Stakes winner to $2 million. Another significant change is still pending, however. The NYRA intends to shorten the track to 1 1/4 miles because of the change of venue.
At Belmont Park, the main track that the Belmont Stakes runs on is 1 1/2 miles. According to Gov. Hochul’s release, the North American Graded Stakes Committee still needs to approve shortening the Belmont Stakes for 2024.
While racing fans might want to make plans to travel to Saratoga in June 2024, whether they need to do so for future years remains unclear. Saratoga could fill in for another year as well.
Belmont Park should be ready for Stakes horse race in 2026
Current expectations for the Belmont Park upgrades have a completion date of early 2026. For that reason, the 2025 Belmont Stakes will likely take place somewhere other than Belmont Park.
It isn’t a given that the 2025 race would take place at Saratoga, however. That could greatly depend on how well the track pulls off the 2024 version. Hochul’s release makes no mention of the 2025 Belmont Stakes.
With more than two years to complete renovations at Belmont Park, it would seemingly take an unforeseen set of circumstances to make holding the Belmont Stakes elsewhere beyond 2025 unnecessary. The track upgrades could prove worth missing two years of the Belmont Stakes, too.
Upgrades are coming to the track itself. Additional Belmont Park renovations will include a completely new clubhouse and grandstand. Furthermore, a new design for the parkland will provide access to the track’s infield.
For both Belmont Park and Saratoga Race Course, the stakes couldn’t be higher over the next two years. If there is a Triple Crown winner in 2024, that horse will accomplish the feat at Saratoga.