Belmont Stakes Racing Festival Packs Them Into Saratoga

Sarah Andrew

Highlighted by a 17-1 upset victory by Dornoch (Good Magic) in the $2-million GI Belmont S., the four-day Belmont Stakes Racing Festival drew better than 120,000 racing fans to Saratoga for the unprecedented event, approximately double the attendance for the two most recent runnings at Belmont Park.

Thursday's opening day of the Festival featured a pair of $150,000 stakes for the 2-year-old males and females and the first of the weekend's 14 graded stakes, the GII Belmont Gold Cup. In front of an announced crowd of 22,027, renowned Australian commentator Matt Hill described the action as The Grey Wizard (Ire) (Caravaggio) earned a berth in the G1 Lexus Melbourne Cup.

Some 27,529 passed through the turnstiles for Friday's program, anchored by the GI Acorn S. A pop-up thunderstorm delayed the start of the first of the afternoon's four graded races, the GII Intercontinental S. but the track surfaces were not unduly affected and the day ended on a high note with GI Kentucky Oaks-winning 'TDN Rising Star' Thorpedo Anna (Fast Anna) tightening her grip on the 3-year-old filly division in the Acorn.

Belmont Day featured nine graded events, six at the elite level, and was witnessed by a sell-out and capped crowd of 50,000. Fans were treated to outstanding performances by the likes of Book'em Danno (Bucchero) in the GI Woody Stephens S., a course record-setting effort in the GI Jaipur S. by Cogburn (Not This Time) and a dominating victory in the GI Manhattan S. by Godolphin's Measured Time (GB) (Frankel {GB}) in addition to the Belmont, contested over a mile and a quarter.

The weather finally took a bit of a turn for the worst on Sunday, forcing the cancellation of the afternoon's turf racing and the rescheduling of the Steinmann Hurdle H., but the rains did not stop better than 20,000 from attending the final day which featured a half-dozen stakes restricted to New York-breds.

Total attendance for the four-day BSRF was 120,427, compared to 62,841 last year (Thursday racing was cancelled) and 61,200 in 2022.

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