Confirming a story reported in TDN last week, the New York Racing Association is adjusting its 2019 Belmont Park spring/summer meet and Saratoga schedules to adapt to planned construction on a new arena for the New York Islanders set to begin this summer. The changes have cleared the final hurdle of getting approval from the New York State Gaming Commission.
As a result, the Belmont spring/summer meet will feature a revised 48-day calendar to commence Friday, Apr. 26 and run through Sunday, July 7. Saratoga’s meet will begin eight days earlier than normal, opening Thursday, July 11 while running through its usual closing day of Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 2. There will be no change to the number of live racing dates at Saratoga, which has been comprised of 40 days since 2010. The traditional six-day racing week at the Spa, however, has been scrapped in favor of a five-day week, with dark days coming on Monday and Tuesday as they do at Belmont.
“Given the initial and proposed timelines for the potential construction of a new arena at Belmont Park, we believe it is the responsible action to move our racing operations to Saratoga Race Course slightly earlier than usual this summer,” said NYRA Interim CEO David O’Rourke. “We appreciate the patience of our horsemen, fans and the community in awaiting this announcement. We are working diligently with our stakeholders to ensure a smooth transition to this new calendar.”
“The New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and New York’s horsemen understand that the possible construction on the Belmont property will require flexibility and accommodation from the state’s entire thoroughbred community,” added NYTHA President Joe Appelbaum. “We will work with NYRA to ensure the safety of our horses and riders and to do all we can to protect the thousands of jobs in our backstretch community as we navigate this challenging time. NYTHA supports the interim solution NYRA has worked out for summer racing dates. While it presents certain complications, we all get to spend five extra days a year in Saratoga–which is always good for the soul.”