By Sue Finley
With the construction of the new Belmont Park scheduled to begin after the spring 2024 meet, and plans for the 2025 event still uncertain, the New York Racing Association (NYRA) expressed their preference that a non-Belmont-Park Belmont Stakes be held at Saratoga rather than Aqueduct.
“Should the construction of a new Belmont Park require the Belmont Stakes to be run at a different venue, then NYRA's preference would absolutely be to hold the event at Saratoga Racecourse,” said NYRA's Director of Communications, Patrick McKenna, in a text to the TDN on Monday.
In an interview on this week's TDN Writers' Room podcast, NYRA CEO David O'Rourke said that plans call for the new Belmont to be finished before the 2026 Belmont, and early conversation with NYRA had centered on possibly holding the Belmont at Aqueduct in 2025 and even 2026 if necessary. Other options, like tents at Belmont, have also been discussed. “Right now, we're in the master planning stage,” said O'Rourke on the Writers' Room. “Ideally, we'd like to have the project completed for the 2026 Belmont. I'm saying that before we have gone deep into the planning and the staging, but that is our goal entering into the process.”
However, said McKenna, “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.”
The current Belmont was opened in 1968, and will be torn down and rebuilt courtesy of a $455-million loan from the state of New York.