by Keith McCalmont
The 152nd renewal of the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Stakes will take place on Saturday, June 20, as the first leg of the Triple Crown series, a historic first for the crown jewel of thoroughbred racing. Traditionally run at 1 1/2-miles, this year’s edition of the Belmont Stakes will be contested at nine furlongs and broadcast live on NBC, the exclusive broadcast partner of the Belmont Stakes and Triple Crown.
“The resumption of live racing at Belmont Park on June 3, with all appropriate health and safety protocols in place, will support the hundreds of small businesses, family-owned farms and thousands of hourly workers who form the backbone of thoroughbred racing in New York,” said NYRA President & CEO Dave O’Rourke. “The return of live sports, especially New York institutions like the Belmont Stakes, is a welcome sign of progress that will bring some sense of normalcy back to our everyday lives.”
The Belmont spring/summer meet, originally scheduled for 51 days from April 24 through July 12, will offer at least one stakes race each day and is bolstered by nine Grade 1 races and four Breeders’ Cup Win & You’re In qualifiers.
Absent from the stakes schedule are the Grade 1 Belmont Derby Invitational and the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks Invitational, the opening legs of the Turf Triple Series implemented by NYRA last year as the turf equivalent of the Triple Crown series. The Turf Triple Series will be run in 2020 and an announcement regarding dates will be made in the coming weeks.
Ten $80,000 overnight stakes races, along with eight stakes restricted to New York-bred horses worth a combined $800,000, will support local horsemen as part of a condition book to be available later today.
NYRA has made necessary adjustments to the purse structure to account for the absence of VLT monies as a result of continued statewide casino closures.
“Without the casino operating and without on-track attendance, we’ve had to make significant purse cuts. The purse cuts to the stakes schedule are much more dramatic than the overnight schedule and we’ve tried to help the everyday horsemen as much as possible through these trying times by writing a rich and varied condition book, offering a daily opportunity for black type, that will support horsemen at all levels of the game,” said Martin Panza, NYRA’s Senior Vice President of Racing Operations.
The Grade 1, $250,000 Runhappy Carter Handicap, a seven-furlong sprint for 4-year-olds and upward originally scheduled for April 4 at Aqueduct Racetrack, will kick off the first of five consecutive Saturdays of Grade 1 races at Belmont Park. The Carter will replace the Grade 2 John A. Nerud as a qualifier for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.
The lucrative June 6 card will also include the Grade 2, $150,000 Fort Marcy at 1 1/8-miles on the turf for older horses; the Grade 3, $100,000 Westchester at 1 1/16-miles for 4-year-olds and up; and the Grade 3, $100,000 Intercontinental, a seven-furlong turf sprint for fillies and mares, 4-years-old and up.
On Saturday, June 13, the Grade 1, $300,000 Ogden Phipps for older fillies and mares going 1 1/16-miles on the main track will offer a berth to the Breeders’ Cup Distaff.
Belmont Stakes Day June 20 will feature six graded races including four Grade 1 events led by the historic Belmont Stakes, which will offer 150-60-30-15 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the top-four finishers.
Rounding out the Grade 1 entertainment on Belmont Stakes Day are the $300,000 Acorn for 3-year-old fillies going one mile; the $250,000 Woody Stephens presented by Claiborne Farm, a seven-furlong sprint over Big Sandy for 3-year-olds; and the $250,000 Jaipur, presented by America’s Best Racing, for 3-year-olds and up going six furlongs on turf, which offers a berth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint. A pair of one-mile turf races for sophomores, previously contested at nine furlongs, completes a stakes-laden card with the Grade 2, $150,000 Pennine Ridge and the Grade 3, $150,000 Wonder Again for fillies.
The Grade 1 action continues at beautiful Belmont Park on Saturday, June 27, with four graded events led by the Grade 1 $300,000 Just a Game for fillies and mares 4-years-old and up at one mile on the turf. The card is bolstered by the Grade 2, $250,000 New York at 10 furlongs on the turf for fillies and mares 4-years-old and up; the Grade 2, $150,000 True North, a 6 1/2-furlong sprint for 4-year-olds and up; and the Grade 3, $100,000 Vagrancy, a 6 1/2-furlong sprint for older fillies and mares.
The one-mile Grade 1, $500,000 Runhappy Metropolitan now open to 3-year-olds and up, offers a berth in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, to headline an Independence Day card offering five graded stakes on Saturday, July 4. Also featured is the Grade 1, $400,000 Manhattan for 4-year-olds and up going 1 1/4-miles on turf; the Grade 2, $200,000 Suburban, a 10-furlong test for 4-year-olds and upward; the Grade 3, $150,000 Poker, a one-mile turf test for older horses; and the Grade 3, $100,000 Victory Ride, a 6 1/2-furlong sprint for sophomore fillies.
Closing weekend of the Belmont spring/summer meet will include the Grade 2, $150,000 Ruffian at one mile for fillies and mares, 4-years-old and up on Saturday, July 11 and the $80,000 River Memories, a 1 1/2-mile stamina test on the turf for older fillies and mares, on Sunday, July 12, before live racing shifts to Saratoga Race Course for the 40-day summer meet scheduled to run from Thursday, July 16 through Labor Day, September 7.
All Belmont Stakes Racing Festival (BSRF) tickets are subject to full refunds. Fans who purchased directly from the NYRA Box Office or a NYRA sales representative are asked to complete this web form to request a refund or account credit. Fans who purchased BSRF tickets through Ticketmaster will receive an email directing them to log in to their Ticketmaster account to request a refund or credit.
For more information, please visit BelmontStakes.com.
NYRA 2020 BELMONT SPRING-SUMMER STAKES SCHEDULE
|Wed., June 3||Beaugay||III||100,000||F&M 4&UP||1 1/16 (Turf)|
|Thurs., June 4||Tiller||80,000||4&UP||1 3/8 (Turf)|
|Fri., June 5||Harmony Lodge||80,000||F&M 4&UP||6 Furlongs|
|Sat., June 6||Runhappy Carter Hdcp. (BC)||I||250,000||3&UP||7 Furlongs|
|Sat., June 6||Fort Marcy||II||150,000||4&UP||1 1/8 (Turf)|
|Sat., June 6||Westchester||III||100,000||4&UP||1 1/16|
|Sat., June 6||Intercontinental||III||100,000||F&M 4&UP||7 Furlongs (Turf)|
|Sun., June 7||First Defence||80,000||4&UP||7 Furlongs (Turf)|
|Thurs., June 11||Flat Out||80,000||4&UP||1 3/8|
|Fri., June 12||Commentator Hdcp. (NYB)||125,000||3&UP||1 Mile|
|Sat., June 13||Ogden Phipps (BC)||I||300,000||F&M 4&UP||1 1/16|
|Sun., June 14||Mike Lee (NYB)||100,000||3YO||7 Furlongs|
|Thurs., June 18||Critical Eye Hdcp. (NYB)||125,000||F&M 3&UP||1 Mile|
|Fri., June 19||Sir Cat||80,000||3YO||6 Furlongs (Turf)|
|Sat., June 20||Belmont Stakes||I||1,000,000||3YO||1 1/8|
|Sat., June 20||Acorn||I||300,000||F3YO||1 Mile|
|Sat., June 20||Jaipur (BC)
“Presented by America’s Best Racing”
|I||250,000||3&UP||6 Furlongs (Turf)|
|Sat., June 20||Woody Stephens
“Presented by Claiborne Farm”
|Sat., June 20||Pennine Ridge||II||150,000||3YO||1 Mile (Turf)|
|Sat., June 20||Wonder Again||III||150,000||F3YO||1 Mile (Turf)|
|Sun., June 21||Lady Shipman||80,000||F3YO||6 Furlongs (Turf)|
|Thurs., June 25||Easy Goer||80,000||3YO||1 1/16|
|Fri., June 26||Hessonite (NYB)||75,000||F&M 4&UP||6 Furlongs (Turf)|
|Sat., June 27||Just A Game||I||300,000||F&M 4&UP||1 Mile (Turf)|
|Sat., June 27||New York||II||250,000||F&M 4&UP||1 1/4 (Turf)|
|Sat., June 27||True North||II||150,000||4&UP||6 1/2 Furlongs|
|Sat., June 27||Vagrancy Hdcp.||III||100,000||F&M 3&UP||6 1/2 Furlongs|
|Sun., June 28||Bouwerie (NYB)||100,000||F3YO||7 Furlongs|
|Thurs., July 2||Mount Vernon (NYB)||100,000||F&M 4&UP||1 Mile (Turf)|
|Fri., July 3||License Fee||80,000||F&M 4&UP||6 Furlongs (Turf)|
|Sat., July 4||Runhappy Metropolitan (BC)||I||500,000||3&UP||1 Mile|
|Sat., July 4||Manhattan||I||400,000||4&UP||1 1/4 (Turf)|
|Sat., July 4||Suburban||II||200,000||4&UP||1 1/4|
|Sat., July 4||Poker||III||150,000||4&UP||1 Mile (Turf)|
|Sat., July 4||Victory Ride||III||100,000||F3YO||6 1/2 Furlongs|
|Sun., July 5||Kingston (NYB)||100,000||4&UP||1 1/16 (Turf)|
|Thurs., July 9||Banrock (NYB)||75,000||4&UP||6 Furlongs (Turf)|
|Fri., July 10||Gold Fever||80,000||3YO||6 Furlongs|
|Sat., July 11||Ruffian||II||150,000||F&M 4&UP||1 Mile|
|Sun., July 12||River Memories||80,000||F&M 4&UP||1 1/2 (Turf)|
About the New York Racing Association
The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) holds the exclusive franchise to conduct thoroughbred racing at Aqueduct Racetrack, Belmont Park and Saratoga Race Course.
NYRA tracks are the cornerstone of New York State’s thoroughbred industry, which is responsible for 19,000 jobs and more than $3 billion in annual statewide economic impact.
Accredited by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association Safety and Integrity Alliance, NYRA is a founding member of the Thoroughbred Safety Coalition, a group of the nation’s leading racing organizations working collaboratively to advance safety reforms across the sport.
Over the course of 217 days of live racing in 2019, NYRA generated more than $2.1 billion in all-sources wagering handle with paid attendance exceeding 1.5 million.
About the Belmont Stakes
The Belmont Stakes is an American tradition inaugurated in 1867 at Jerome Park Racetrack and moved in 1905 to its familiar home at beautiful Belmont Park. As the third leg of racing’s Triple Crown, the 1 ½-mile “Test of the Champion,” as the Belmont Stakes is known, has showcased many of history’s greatest thoroughbreds.
Two of those Triple Crown triumphs have come in the last five years, with American Pharoah ending a 37-year Triple Crown drought in 2015 and Justify capping a perfect 6-for-6 career with a Triple Crown-clinching effort in 2018.
For additional information, visit BelmontStakes.com.