Belmont Park spring/summer meet begins May 1 with host of improvements and special events; $8 million Belmont Stakes Day set for June 7
By Jenny Kellner | 04/26/2014 01:25 PM ET
Anchored by the 146th running of the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes on June 7, Belmont Park opens on Thursday, May 1, with world-class racing forming the backbone of the 54-day spring/summer meet and a host of improvements and special events to enhance the guest experience.
The oldest and longest leg of racing's elusive Triple Crown, the 1 ½-mile Belmont this year will be supported by nine additional stakes including five prestigious Grade 1 events: the $1.25 million Metropolitan Handicap, the $1 million Ogden Phipps, the $1 million Manhattan, the $750,000 Longines Just a Game and the $750,000 Acorn. In total, the 13-race card will be worth $8 million, making New York's Spring Championships the second-richest day on the North American racing calendar behind only Breeders' Cup Saturday.
Guests will be able to experience the entire Triple Crown series at Belmont Park beginning on Kentucky Derby Day, Saturday, May 3. Gates will open at 10 a.m. and fans can watch and wager on all the racing action from Churchill Downs and root for their favorite New York horses in the Derby, as well as enjoy the first two of 29 graded stakes during the Belmont meet: the Grade 3 Beaugay and the Grade 3 Fort Marcy, both $150,000 events on the turf.
Also on Derby Day, students from area schools will be competing for prizes in the first "College Clash Showdown", and guests will receive a refrigerator magnet featuring key events during the meet, which runs through July 13.
The sparkling Mother's Day card on May 11 will include the Grade 1, $400,000 Man o' War, the Grade 2, $250,000 Ruffian, the Grade 3, $150,000 Westchester and the $100,000 License Fee along with prize drawings and giveaways after every race.
Memorial Day weekend begins on Saturday, May 24, with the Grade 2, $200,000 Sheepshead Bay for filly and mare turf horses and Belmont's first "Wings Festival and Contest," where fans can sample the best (and hottest!) chicken wings from area restaurants. Memorial Day, Monday, May 26 offers a trio of stakes headlined by the Grade 3, $300,000 Poker.
One week before Belmont Stakes Day, Big Apple Showcase Day on Saturday, May 31 will feature six stakes worth $900,000, all restricted to New York-breds. The best of the Empire State also will be offered in the grandstand on Saturday and Sunday with the return of the TasteNY Farmers' Market, featuring local produce and products, for the weekend.
Belmont will hold its inaugural Stars & Stripes Day on July 5, featuring a pair of Grade 1 contests for 3-year-olds on the grass, the $1.25 million Belmont Derby Invitational and the $1 million Belmont Oaks Invitational. Also on the card are the Grade 2, $500,000 Suburban Handicap, the Grade 3, $400,000 Belmont Sprint Championship and the Grade 2, $200,000 Dwyer. Food trucks and Family Fun Day are among the promotions that will ensure an entertaining day for the whole family.
"Belmont Park is synonymous with great competition, and our racing team, led by Senior Vice President of Racing Operations Martin Panza and Racing Secretary Frank Gabriel Jr., is working every day with the goal of making the 2014 spring/summer meet the best ever," said New York Racing Association CEO and President Chris Kay. "All who visit Belmont during the spring/summer meet will enjoy a more intimate and exciting experience and terrific guest-focused improvements and promotions."
Beginning on Opening Day, guests will be greeted by a wide array of improvements, including 131 new HD televisions throughout the facility, as well as new HD screens in second-floor box seats for improved viewing of live and simulcast racing. Near the paddock, a new 8' by 15' video display wall has been installed by the walking ring offering enhanced, HD picture quality.
The Belmont Café on the first floor of the clubhouse has been modernized with new tables and chairs, and the Top of the Stretch picnic area is being expanded with two additional sections.
The popular "Breakfast at Belmont" program, which enables families to enjoy good food at very reasonable prices while watching the horses train in the morning, is available every weekend and holiday during the meet, with the exception of Belmont Stakes weekend.
Twilight racing returns for four Fridays - June 20, June 27, July 4 and July 11 - with a special first race post time of 3 p.m. First race post time at Belmont Park generally will be 1:20 p.m., with the exception of the twilight racing cards, Derby and Preakness Day, when the first race goes off at noon, and Belmont Stakes Day, when the first race will go off at 11:35 a.m.
Admission to both the Grandstand and Clubhouse at Belmont Park is only $5, excluding Belmont Stakes Day, when Grandstand admission is $10 and Clubhouse admission is $30. Information on special hospitality packages and seats for Belmont Stakes Day can be found here.