New York Governor Kathy Hochul made it official that the 2024 GI Belmont S. will be held for the first time at Saratoga Race Course and be run at 1 1/4 miles to allow for the uninterrupted construction of a new and re-imagined Belmont Park, the governor said in a release Wednesday.
“As part of the exciting modernization of Belmont Park, Saratoga now adds to its storied history by hosting the third leg of the Triple Crown,” Governor Hochul said. “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.'”
Highlighted by the 156th edition of the Belmont S. on Saturday, June 8, the 2024 Belmont Stakes Racing Festival will begin on Thursday, June 6 and continue through Sunday, June 9. The four-day Festival at Saratoga Race Course will include 23 stakes races in total with purses totaling $9.7 million, the highest purse levels and number of stakes offered since the launch of the multi-day event in 2014.
The New York Racing Association (NYRA) will increase the purse of the Belmont S. from $1.5 million to $2 million in 2024, which is the first significant increase since 2014. In addition, pending the approval of the North American Graded Stakes Committee, the race will be contested at 1 1/4 miles in 2024 rather than the traditional 1 1/2 miles due to the configuration of Saratoga's main track.
“Thanks to Governor Hochul's support for a new and modernized Belmont Park, NYRA will soon be able to bring the Belmont S. to Upstate New York for the first time in history. Beyond the excitement and energy around a Triple Crown event at the sport's most beloved venue, the Belmont S. at Saratoga Race Course will generate important economic impact and drive tourism throughout the Capital Region,” said NYRA's President and CEO David O'Rourke. “We are thrilled to add a new chapter to the story of Thoroughbred racing in Saratoga Springs this June.”
Earlier this year, Governor Hochul's Executive Budget included a proposal for NYRA to build new Thoroughbred racing facilities at Belmont Park; the FY2024 Enacted Budget granted that approval. This project will transform the 117-year-old track, bringing the modern hospitality offerings fans expect while generating $1 billion in construction-related impacts, 3,700 construction jobs, $155 million in annual economic activity, and 740 new full-time jobs. Upgrading Belmont, which sustains 19,000 jobs across the state and a $3-billion annual economic impact, will also dramatically expand the amount of open space available to fans and the surrounding community.
Following the conclusion of the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival at Saratoga, the NYRA circuit will return to Aqueduct Racetrack for the remainder of the spring meet before racing shifts to Saratoga for the annual 40-day summer meet beginning Thursday, July 11. Prior to the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival, the Belmont Spring/Summer meet will be conducted at Aqueduct. The fall meet customarily held at Belmont Park will again be shifted to Aqueduct Racetrack in 2024 while construction of a new Belmont Park continues.
While 2024 will mark the first time the Belmont S. unfolds at Saratoga, the race was moved to Aqueduct Racetrack from 1963-1967 when Belmont Park last underwent significant renovations, and the distance has been adjusted throughout history, with the most recent change coming in 2020 when the Triple Crown was modified because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Additional information and details on hospitality offerings, ticket packages and pricing for the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival at Saratoga Race Course will be available in early 2024.