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Belmont to Run First Race of Triple Crown Without Spectators
Kentucky Ag Connection - 06/02/2020

The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA)announced that live racing, to be conducted without spectators, will return on June 3 at Belmont Park.

Following the five-day opening week, live racing throughout the 25-day Belmont spring/summer meet will be conducted Thursday through Sunday, with a first post time of 1:15 p.m. Eastern. The spring/summer meet will conclude on July 12.

A condensed stakes schedule for the spring/summer meet will feature 40 total stakes races worth $7 million, including 22 graded stakes, beginning on Opening Day June 3 with the Grade 3, $100,000 Beaugay at 1 1/16-miles on the turf for fillies and mares, 4-years-old and up.

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.

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.

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