Situated in Elmont, New York, just eight miles from JFK Airport and only ten miles from sister track Aqueduct, both facilities being managed by the New York Racing Association (NYRA), Belmont Park Racecourse is undoubtedly one of the most important race tracks in America.
Hosting eleven Grade I races in its spring/summer meet, Belmont is prolific at the top level and hosts the final leg of the American Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes, which comes just five weeks after the Kentucky Derby and shortly after the Preakness Stakes.
The facility was opened back in 1905 and in its 115-year history it has hosted some of the most memorable races on the continent, often being the graveyard for Triple Crown contenders but also crowning thirteen of them in its magnificent surrounds, most recently Justify in 2018.
To add to its already formidable and laudable reputation, Belmont has become known colloquially as “The Championship Track”, as almost every major champion and Horse of the Year for the past two decades has competed and won around Belmont. Doing so, in fact, is seen by many as something a horse has to do to truly be called a champion in the United States.
Admission Prices at Belmont Park Racecourse
General admission at Belmont starts at $25, more than reasonable for a first-class venue. Various packages are made available including the ‘Toast the Turn’ package at $90 which gets you a spot on the final bend, or the $125 Trackside Apron Bench seating giving racegoers exclusive access to the side of the track, right up close to the action.
Belmont Park Track Details
As with most major American tracks, both dirt and turf races are staged at Belmont across their three tracks. The main dirt track here is named “Big Sandy” given that it is seen as being not just bigger and wider, but deeper than most tracks in the States and presents quite a challenge.
Be aware of this, as when the Belmont Stakes is run over 1½ miles its already an unusual distance for American bred horses, especially at just three years old, and they’re being asked to do it on this tough surface. When the big race comes around, take special care to check the breeding as it counts for so much in this event, plenty of winners in recent times being sons of Tapit for example.
The dirt track is one-and-a-half miles in length (most US tracks are one mile), it is a standard left-handed oval and pretty flat in nature. Not being as sharp as other tracks, stamina comes much more to the fore here so don’t pay too much attention to the clock.
The Widener Turf Course is again a left-handed oval, 1m2½f in length and again reasonably testing which makes it unusual in the States. The Inner Turf Course is a little bit shorter at 1m1½f but all of this still makes all tracks at Belmont bigger and wider than you’d expect to find in North America.
With that in mind, any races run at Belmont Park need to be treated differently. With speed very much to the fore elsewhere, we can forget about concentrating on that here although it will still be beneficial to grab an inside draw to be able to get into a good racing position around the first turn.
Biggest Races at Belmont
NYRA has a very full stakes schedule alongside its other races, including some important maidens featuring potential stars of the future. In terms of the biggest races though, 34 of New York’s graded races take place at Belmont over their spring/summer meet including these events which are all run at Grade I level:
- Man o’ War Stakes – 1m3f (turf), May
- Acorn Stakes – 1m, 3yo fillies, June
- Belmont Stakes – 1m4f, 3yo only, June*
- Jaipur Invitational – 6f (turf), June
- Just a Game Stakes – 1m (turf), fillies & mares, June
- Manhattan Stakes – 1m2f (turf), June
- Ogden Phipps Stakes – 1m½f, fillies & mares, June
- Metropolitan Handicap – 1m, June
- Woody Stephens Stakes – 7f, 3yo only, June
- Belmont Derby – 1m2f (turf), 3yo only, July
- Belmont Oaks – 1m2f (turf), 3yo fillies, July
*The Belmont Stakes is traditionally the last leg of the Triple Crown of horse racing, making it along with the Breeders’ Cup Classic one of the four most important races in the States.
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