BELMONT PARK RACETRACK
Main Course: 1 1/2 Miles
Last Turn to Finish on Main Track: 1,097 feet
Widener Turf Course: 1 5/16 Miles
Inner Turf Course: 1 3/16 Miles
Attendance Capacity: 85,000 – 90,000
Parking Capacity: 18,500 Cars
Trackside Dining: 2,300
Total Seating Capacity: 32,941
About Belmont Park Racetrack
Where is Belmont Park – is a 430-acre racetrack in Elmont, N.Y. There are two race meetings at Belmont Park in 2012: the 56-day Spring/Summer meeting will be from April 27 to July 15; and the 37-day Fall Championship meeting will be from Sept. 8 to Oct. 28. Belmont Park is the home of the 144th Running of the Belmont Stakes on Saturday June 9, 2012.
The $1,000,000 Belmont Stakes is the longest and most demanding leg of the Triple Crown series. And, as the third jewel in the Triple Crown, it can make or break a Triple Crown champion. History has proven that most three-year-olds are unaccustomed to the distance at Belmont Park, making it difficult for horses to maintain a winning speed for the duration of the race. Therefore, the positioning of the horse and the timing of the move to chase for the lead can be critical.
Belmont Park Facts
The original Belmont track opened on May 4, 1905 but following two separate engineering surveys, Belmont’s grandstand/clubhouse were deemed unsafe and a new grandstand had to be built. In 1968 a new grandstand was built at the steep cost of $30.7 million, but considering it holds more racing fans than any other venue the price was right.
Belmont Park can hold 90,000 people and has a seating capacity of 32,941. Home to the elegant Garden Terrace Restaurant, a luxurious five-star restaurant with a seating size of 2,300, Belmont visitors can also treat themselves to some fine dining while taking in their favorite races. Belmont Park is often called one of the best-landscaped venues in American sports because of its stately backyard park (situated behind the grandstand) that includes a paddock where horses are saddled before each race.
Despite its beauty, its rich championship history is what makes Belmont Park one of the most important tracks in horse racing.
Secretariat’s 31-length victory at the 1973 Belmont Stakes still stands as the largest in the history of American Grade 1 stakes races. The win also set a world record (2:24 flat) not only for the winner of Belmont Stakes, but for the mile and a half (2.4 km) on dirt.
A 1950s advertisement for Belmont Park referred to its product as “America’s Greatest Racing,” a claim that wasn’t far off the mark then or now. Quite simply, Belmont’s importance in the American racing landscape is inestimable.
Located in Elmont, New York, a Long Island community on the border with the New York City borough of Queens, Belmont Park opened in 1905. From birth it was already one of the nation’s leading tracks, having inherited many of the great races introduced in the late 19th century at defunct New York tracks such as Jerome Park and Morris Park.
One of these was the Belmont Stakes which, like the track, was named in honor of the family of noted financier and sportsman August Belmont. Then as now, the Belmont was one of the most important events for three-year-olds in the country.
Today, the Belmont serves as the final leg of the American Triple Crown and is run every June, five weeks after the Kentucky Derby and three weeks after the Preakness. It’s slightly anachronistic distance of 1 1/2 miles is just one lap around Belmont Park’s main oval, which is the largest in the country.
With some exceptions, particularly in the mid-1960s when the track was closed for five years due to the reconstruction of its grandstand, Belmont Park has attracted virtually every Hall of Fame-worthy Thoroughbred at one time or another.
Early in its history, Belmont Park was routinely graced by the presence of Man o’ War, who many still consider as the last century’s best Thoroughbred. “Big Red” raced in an era when the track still conducted racing in a clockwise fashion, much like the great courses of Europe it was patterned after.
A half-century after Man o’ War came the second incarnation of “Big Red” – Secretariat – who turned in arguably the greatest performance in track history with a 31-length victory in the Belmont Stakes in the blazing time of 2:24.
Until the 1950s Belmont Park hosted races on the Widener chute, a straight 6 1/2-furlong course that ran diagonally across the main track. Racing ceased over that strip of ground when the popularity of grass racing instigated the laying out of two turf courses, both of which are larger than most of the nation’s dirt tracks.
When a Triple Crown sweep is on the line in the Belmont, crowds numbering in the six figures are common. Without a Triple Crown at stake, the size of the Belmont Day crowd can vary between 40,000 and 70,000, but remains the largest of the season. Due to the proliferation of off-track wagering and other factors, crowds on other major race days rarely exceed 10,000.
Belmont runs two meets a year: the spring/summer meet is highlighted by the Belmont Stakes, while the fall meet features a number of the sport’s most prestigious races that once served as championship deciders prior to the advent of the Breeders’ Cup.
Belmont Park was the host site for the Breeders’ Cup in 1990, 1995, 2001, and 2005.