Saratoga Race Course To Take Over Belmont Stakes Hosting Duties In 2024

Written By Grant Lucas on December 11, 2023
saratoga race course in saratoga springs will host 2024 belmont stakes

For the first time since 1967, the Belmont Stakes will have a new home for the 2024 race.

Albeit temporarily.

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced last week that the 156th Belmont Stakes, the third leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown, will move to Saratoga Race Course next year, allowing for uninterrupted construction and renovations to Belmont Park.

“As part of the exciting modernization of Belmont Park, Saratoga now adds to its storied history by hosting the 3rd leg of the Triple Crown,” Hochul said in a statement.

“It’s a win for horse racing and for the Capital Region to have the excitement and the ability to host the four-day Festival in June at America’s most historic track. As I said during the 2023 Saratoga Meet, ‘Let’s do it.'”

Why Saratoga Race Course will host 156th Belmont Stakes

As detailed in a press release announcing the move to Saratoga, some 200 miles north of Long Island in Saratoga Springs, the four-day Belmont Stakes festival will include 23 stakes races that combine for $9.7 million in purses – the highest purse levels and number of stakes races offered since the multiple-day Belmont Stakes Racing Festival began in 2014. Part of that purse total includes $2 million for the Belmont Stakes winner, up from $1.5 million.

New York Racing Association President & CEO David O’Rourke said, “Thanks to Governor Hochul’s support for a new and modernized Belmont Park, NYRA will soon be able to bring the Belmont Stakes to Upstate New York for the first time in history,” David O’Rourke, president and CEO of the New York Racing Association, said in a statement.

“Beyond the excitement and energy around a Triple Crown event at the sport’s most beloved venue, the Belmont Stakes at Saratoga Race Course will generate important economic impact and drive tourism throughout the Capital Region. We are thrilled to add a new chapter to the story of thoroughbred racing in Saratoga Springs this June.”

Another difference for 2024: The track itself will be shortened, as officials bring the Stakes down to 1 ¼ miles from the traditional 1 ½ to acclimate to the configuration of the main track at Saratoga, which will host the Belmont Stakes for the first time in its 160-year history.

Saratoga Race Course Local Advisory Board Chair Joseph A. Torani said, “Saratoga Race Course is an engine of our local economy and a source of immense civic pride,” said Joseph A. Torani, chair of the Saratoga Race Course Local Advisory Board. “This year’s Belmont Stakes Racing Festival presents the opportunity to hold a world class event outside of the traditional summer racing season, which is incredibly exciting for this community. We thank Gov. Hochul for her consistent support of horse racing in Saratoga and throughout the state.”

Saratoga excited to make major NY horse racing debut

Hochul signed off on the Executive Budget that featured a proposal from the NYRA to develop and update the facilities at Belmont Park.

The project will modernize the 117-year-old track while integrating up-to-date hospitality offerings. All told, the project will generate $1 billion in “construction-related impacts,” according to a press release, as well as 3,700 construction jobs, $155 million in annual economic activity and 740 full-time jobs.

On top of it all, the updated Belmont Park will “dramatically expand the amount of open space available to fans and the surrounding community.”

While that happens, Saratoga will take center stage for the Belmont Stakes, which has been run at Belmont Park since 1905, except for a five-year stretch in the 1960s when the race went on at Aqueduct Racetrack as Belmont Park underwent significant renovations. That was the last time Belmont Park got a facelift.

Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce President Todd Shimkus said, “Saratoga County continues to grow and thrive because of world-class attractions like Saratoga Race Course,” said Todd Shimkus, president of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce.

“Governor Hochul has long championed Upstate New York as the ideal place to live, work and vacation. That’s exactly what racing fans will find here in Saratoga when they visit for the Belmont Stakes in June.”

Photo by Hans Pennink / AP Photo
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Grant Lucas

Grant Lucas is the managing editor for PlayNY. A longtime, award-winning sports writer, Grant has covered gambling and legal sports betting since 2018, when he got his start reporting on the New Jersey and Pennsylvania industries. He now oversees PlayNY as New York expands legalized gambling to sports betting and online casino gaming.

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