Track Reports

Live Racing Returns to Belmont Park April 29, Belmont Stakes Racing Festival Set for June 9-11

American Pharoah credit Chelsea Durand/NYRA
Chelsea Durand/NYRA

ELMONT, N.Y. – Featuring the second annual Belmont Stakes Racing Festival, itself anchored by the 148th renewal of the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes on Saturday, June 11, live thoroughbred racing will return to Belmont Park on Friday, April 29 for its 54-day spring/summer meet packed with exciting racing action and a variety of special events designed for fans of all ages.

First post time is 1:30 p.m. on Friday and admission gates will open at 11:30 a.m. General admission is $5 and general parking is free.

The 1 ½-mile Belmont Stakes, the oldest and longest leg of racing’s Triple Crown, will bring down the curtain on three days of world-class racing, featuring 19 stakes worth $9.6 million beginning Thursday, June 9 and continuing through Belmont Stakes Day.

As the premiere event of the spring/summer meet, the Belmont Stakes Day will be comprised of five Grade 1 contests supporting the final and most elusive jewel of the Triple Crown: the $1.25 million Metropolitan Handicap (“Met Mile”) for 3-year-olds and up, the $1 million Manhattan for older horses on the grass and the $700,000 Longines Just a Game for the turf female division, as well as the $1 million Ogden Phipps for fillies and mares and the $700,000 Acorn for sophomore fillies.

Grammy-nominated, multi-platinum recording artist Daughtry will headline the entertainment on Belmont Stakes Day with a post-race concert to cap off an afternoon of exciting racing and activities, including food trucks, strolling performers, parachuters, a color guard presentation and special performances from the West Point Band and smash hit Broadway musical “Beautiful – The Carole King Musical.”

With the Belmont Stakes Draw scheduled on Wednesday, June 8 at Rockefeller Center in Manhattan, Thursday, June 9, will open the premier racing festival as “Community Day” at Belmont Park, highlighted by a live Q&A session with Bob Baffert, the Hall of Fame trainer of 2016 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah. The racing card will feature a trio of stakes in the $200,00 Astoria for 2-year-old fillies, $150,000 Intercontinental for filly and mare turf sprinters and the $200,000 Belmont Coronation Invitational for fillies and mares going 1 15/16 miles on the turf.

Friday’s card will feature five stakes worth more than $1.5 million, including the Grade 2, $500,000 New York and the Grade 2, $250,000 True North, as well as hospitality room entertainment and a handicapping seminar. A special post-race concert by country stars Maddie & Tae will close out the second day of the festival. TasteNY vendors will also be on hand with a variety of regional products of wines, spirits, foods, and crafts available for purchase.

Friday will also mark the beginning of the meet’s elite high-roller handicapping tournament, the Belmont Stakes Challenge, a two-day live-money handicapping contest with a $10,000 buy-in set to conclude on Belmont Stakes Day with a guaranteed overall prize pool of at least $125,000.

Guests will be able to take advantage of enhanced wifi capacity and other upgrades at Belmont Park as the 2016 spring/summer meet gets underway on Friday with a three-day opening weekend, highlighted by the $100,000 Affirmed Success for New York-bred sprinters on opening day and followed by a pair of turf stakes in the $100,000 Elusive Quality on Saturday, April 30, and the $100,000 License Fee on Sunday, May 1.

As the New York home of Triple Crown racing, Belmont Park will host a live simulcast of the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, May 7, complemented by a full day of live racing along with a wing and beer festival, family fun activities, and a Woodford Reserve bourbon tasting.

The Derby weekend celebrations will begin with the return of the ever-popular “Breakfast at Belmont” beginning at 7 a.m. on Saturday, as well as Mother’s Day Sunday, where racing fans can enjoy breakfast in the Belmont Café while watching horses train on the main track. Held on select weekends throughout the spring/summer meet, “Breakfast at Belmont” will also be hosted Memorial Day Weekend, Saturday, May 28 through Memorial Day, May 30; Father’s Day Weekend, Saturday, June 18 and Sunday, June 19; and Stars & Stripes Festival Weekend, Saturday, July 9 and Sunday, July 10.

Derby Day will host the first of 29 graded stakes races of the much-revered meet, offering a trio of prestigious races: the Grade 2, $200,000 Sheepshead Bay and the Grade 3, $150,000 Fort Marcy, both on the turf, and the Grade 3, $150,000 Westchester, the traditional prep for the Met Mile on Belmont Stakes Day.

Also on Derby Day, students from area schools will be able to take advantage of Belmont’s annual “College Day,” offering an array of activities and prizes to college students with a valid student I.D.

Belmont Park will celebrate Mother’s Day on Sunday, May 8, with free roses to all women dining in the Garden Terrace, a wine tasting, an enter-to-win contest and other family fun activities.

The racing action heats up the following weekend with four graded stakes on Saturday, May 14: the Grade 3, $150,000 Beaugay; the Grade 2, $250,000 Ruffian; the Grade 1, $400,000 Man o’ War for older turf horses; and the Grade 2, $200,000 Peter Pan, the local prep race for the Belmont Stakes.

On Preakness Day, Saturday, May 21, fans will be able to enjoy live racing at Belmont as well as full-card simulcasting of the day’s events at Pimlico, while picking up the first giveaway item of the summer, a long-sleeve black t-shirt, free with admission while supplies last.

New York-breds take center stage for Big Apple Showcase Day on Memorial Day, May 30, with six stakes races worth $900,000, including a pair of one-mile dirt races: the Commentator and the Critical Eye for fillies and mares, both worth $200,000. Rounding out the Big Apple experience will be various family-friendly activities and food trucks in the backyard as Belmont pays tribute to our nation’s military service members.

Dads can take in a car show and celebrate Father’s Day on June 19 at Belmont with chair massages, cigar rolling, bourbon tasting and a BBQ set giveaway.

In July, the second “must-see” event of the meet is the third edition of the internationally themed Stars & Stripes Racing Festival on July 9, highlighted by the Grade 1, $1.25 Belmont Derby Invitational for 3-year-olds and the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Oaks Invitational for 3-year-old fillies, both at 1 ¼ miles on the turf. Also on the card are the Grade 2, $500,000 Suburban Handicap, the Grade 3, $500,000 Dwyer for 3-year-olds, the Grade 3, $400,000 Belmont Sprint Championship and the Grade 3, $150,000 Victory Ride for 3-year-old filly sprinters. Food trucks and other activities will be on hand for the Stars & Stripes Racing Festival, as well as a beach towel giveaway and a two-day handicapping contest July 9-10.

Twilight racing returns with “Party at the Park,” taking place on four Fridays this summer – June 17, June 24, July 1 and July 8 – with a special first-race post time of 3:05 p.m.

With the exception of the twilight racing cards, Derby and Preakness Day, and the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival, the first race post time at Belmont Park generally will be 1:30 p.m.

Admission to Belmont Park is $5, excluding Belmont Stakes Day, when Grandstand admission is $15 and Clubhouse admission is $40. Information on special hospitality packages and seats for Belmont Stakes Day can be found at

Belmont Park’s 2016 spring/summer meet activities at a glance:

  • Dates: Friday, April 29 through Sunday, July 17
  • First Post Time: 1:30 p.m. EDT, gates open at 11:30 a.m. – except Kentucky Derby and Preakness Day, the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival and “Party at the Park” twilight racing.
Belmont Stakes Racing Festival:
  • Wednesday, June 8, Belmont Stakes Draw – Rockefeller Center in Manhattan
  • Thursday, June 9, “Community Day” – Q&A with American Pharoah trainer Bob Baffert
  • Friday, June 10, “Fillies Day,”–  live-money high-roller handicapping tournament (Day 1); handicapping seminar; TasteNY; post-race concert by Maddie & Tae
  • Saturday, June 11, Belmont Stakes Day – food trucks, strolling performers, parachuters in the infield, and color guard presentation; performances from the the Broadway hit musical “Beautiful – The Carole King Musical” and West Point Band; post-race concert by Grammy-nominated recording artist Daughtry

Stars & Stripes Racing Festival:
  • Saturday, July 9 – food trucks; handicapping contest; beach towel giveaway
Kentucky Derby Day:
  • Saturday, May 7 – wing and beer festival; Woodford Reserve bourbon tasting; and family fun activities
“Party at the Park” twilight racing:
  • Dates: Fridays, June 17, June 24, July 1 and July 8
  • First Post Time: 3:05 p.m. EDT
Breakfast at Belmont:
  • Derby weekend & Mother’s Day – Saturday, May 7 and Sunday, May 8
  • Memorial Day weekend & Big Apple Showcase – Saturday, May 28 – Monday, May 30
  • Father’s Day weekend – Saturday, June 18 and Sunday, June 19
  • Stars & Stripes weekend – Saturday, July 9 and Sunday, July 10
  • Time: 7 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.
  • Admission and parking are free.


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