NYRA Moving Part of Belmont Fall Meet to Aqueduct Due to Scheduled Construction of New Arena

Posted on: July 14, 2019, 05:33h. 

Last updated on: July 15, 2019, 08:46h.

Fall racing in New York will look a little different this year as the meet traditionally run by Belmont Park in September and October will be split between it and Aqueduct Racetrack.

Belmont Park will see part of its fall meet moved to nearby Aqueduct Racetrack as construction on a planned arena is scheduled to start in October. (Image: Coglianese/NYRA Photo)

According to the New York Racing Association (NYRA), Belmont will host races from Sept. 6 to Oct. 6. Aqueduct will hold race cards, under the “Belmont at the Big A” brand, from Oct. 11 to Oct. 27. Aqueduct’s fall meet will still run from Nov. 1 to Dec. 1, with its winder meet starting on Dec. 5.

The split was made necessary due to construction starting this fall on a planned arena for the NHL’s New York Islanders that will be adjacent to Belmont. The two tracks are separated by less than 10 miles, with Aqueduct based in Queens and Belmont just beyond the New York City limits.

The redevelopment project at Belmont Park will have a long-lasting and multifaceted positive impact on the surrounding community. In light of the construction, it is important to adjust our calendar to ensure NYRA’s fall racing program will run safely and efficiently for all participants,” said NYRA CEO and President David O’Rourke said in a release.

Under the split, 23 of the meet’s 37 days will still be held at Belmont.

Why ‘Belmont at the Big A’?

The NYRA’s announcement led some racing fans to question the move on social media, specifically asking why not call the Aqueduct portion part of that track’s fall meet. The move may have to do with the stature of Belmont Park, considered one of the top horse racing tracks in the country.

Noted turf writer Jeremy Balan recalled in a tweet a conversation he had with The Stronach Group COO Tim Ritvo about changing the name of Calder Race Course to Gulfstream Park West. After the name change, the average daily handle more than doubled from $1.6 million to $4 million.

Last year’s Belmont fall meet, which ran on 35 of the 36 scheduled days, generated an all-sources handle of more than $269 million. That’s an average daily handle of nearly $7.7 million. By contrast, Aqueduct’s 22-day fall meet, which ran from Nov. 2 to Dec. 2, had an all-sources handle of $137.2 million, or an average daily handle of $6.2 million.

Turf Triple, Gold Cup Highlight Meet

The Belmont fall meet includes 45 stakes races that will offer more than $11.5 million in purses. The two biggest races of the meet will take place on its second day as the NYRA concludes the first Turf Triple, a new series of races designed to promote the best 3-year-old turf horses.

Belmont will host the inaugural Jockey Club Derby, a $1 million 1-1/2-mile stakes race, on Sept. 7. The Jockey Club Derby will serve as the third leg of the Turf Trinity for 3-year-old colts. Henley’s Joy won the Belmont Derby last weekend to take the first race in the Turf Triple series.

The winner of the Jockey Club Derby will gain automatic entry into this year’s Breeders Cup Longines Turf, a $4 million race held at Santa Anita on Nov. 2.

There’s also a Turf Tiara series for fillies. The third leg of that series, the $750,000 Jockey Club Oaks, will also take place on Sept. 7. Concrete Rose took the Belmont Oaks last weekend.

On Sept. 28, Belmont will hold the Grade I Jockey Club Gold Cup, a $750,000 stakes race for 3-year-olds and up. The winner will receive an automatic berth in the $6 million Breeders Cup Classic on Nov. 2 at Santa Anita.