2025 Belmont Stakes May Move to Saratoga Due to Belmont Park Renovations

Written By Hannah Vanbiber on June 29, 2023
arcangelo crosses finish line 2023 belmont stakes

The Triple Crown’s Belmont Stakes may take up a new temporary home in 2025. Thanks to a renovation project planned at Belmont Park, the 2025 race could move to the Saratoga Race Course.

Pat McKenna, vice president of communications for the New York Racing Association (NYRA), told the Times Union that Saratoga was the likeliest substitute for Belmont Park.

“Should the construction at Belmont Park require the Belmont Stakes be run at a different venue, then NYRA’s preference would absolutely be to hold the event at historic Saratoga Race Course. A Belmont Stakes at Saratoga is an event that would capture the attention of the entire sports world while driving tourism and economic impact for upstate New York.”

However, NYRA president and CEO Dave O’Rourke told the Associated Press that he expects a clearer answer on the 2025 location when the project is further along.

Belmont Park renovations to begin after 2024 Belmont Stakes

In May, the New York legislature approved a $455 million loan to the NYRA to upgrade Belmont Park. The last upgrades to the park were over half a century ago, in 1968. During those renovations, the third race in the Triple Crown was run at Aqueduct in Queens. It has never before been run at Saratoga Race Course.

Sen. Joe Addabbo says the upgrades should boost the local economy.

“The Belmont Racetrack project will create over 4,000 union jobs, add to state revenue, and provide a more modern, environmentally-friendly, safer track with additional green space.”

McKenna told the Times Union that there is currently “no concrete timeline” for the start of construction. But details emerged that renovations would not start until after the 2024 Belmont Stakes, which is scheduled for June 7-8, 2024.

McKenna said that a clearer timeline is coming in the next few months. But “there will likely be a Belmont Stakes held away from Belmont Park.”

The two locations being considered for the 2025 race are Aqueduct and Saratoga.

Saratoga ready for Belmont Stakes

The Saratoga Race Course is within four hours of Elmont, the home of Belmont Park. It is the third-oldest race track in the country and has hosted The Travers Stakes for over a hundred years.

The grandstand holds 50,000 people compared to 90,000 at Belmont and is 100 acres smaller. However, Todd Shimkus, president of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce, said they would welcome the Belmont Stakes.

“If a Triple Crown victory was on the line in 2025, no doubt that would be big or bigger than anything we might imagine,” Shimkus told the Times-Union. “The novelty and history of the whole event is likely to create quite a buzz with hopefully record crowds here and on television…You could tell us tomorrow and we’d be ready.”

What do Belmont Park renovations include?

The $455 million renovation includes plans to update track surfaces. They will also construct a new track and a new, smaller grandstand that serves modern race viewers.

The current 1.25 million-square-foot grandstand will make way for a smaller one that’s closer to 275,000 square feet. Renovations will construct a park-like atmosphere with green space intended to welcome visitors to spend a day at the races.

The upgrades also include plans for the dirt and turf tracks to be winterized and re-done for year-round racing.

Perhaps the most notable addition is a synthetic track on the inside of the inner turf course. The 1-mile oval would be Belmont Park’s fourth racing surface.

The post-renovation park is expected to debut in 2026 and considerably raise Belmont Park’s horse racing profile and betting handle.

In June, the 2023 Belmont Stakes broke a track record with the highest horse betting handle in a non-Triple Crown year. The race pulled in over $118.3 million in wagers.

Photo by Seth Wenig / AP Photo
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Hannah Vanbiber

Hannah Vanbiber is a contributing writer for PlayNY after starting her journalism career in Chattanooga, Tennessee. From covering local sports, entertainment and business in East Tennessee, Hannah now covers legal gambling for New York as well as covering women's sports and sports betting in the New York metropolitan area.

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