As expected, the scheduled April 24 opening of the Belmont Park spring/summer meet will be delayed due to the continuing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The meet, featuring the 152nd running of the Belmont Stakes on June 6, was supposed to have run from next Friday to July 12.
The New York Racing Association said that it “is continuing to assess various options in consultation with all appropriate parties. Currently scheduled for June 6, these options include shifting the race to a later date.”
“We are working closely with the New York State Gaming Commission and public health officials to determine a timeline for the resumption of live racing at Belmont Park,” NYRA CEO and president Dave O’Rourke said in a release. “The health and safety of our racing community is paramount, and any decisions or necessary adjustments to the racing schedule and operations must reflect that priority. I’d like to thank New York’s horsemen and the backstretch community for their dedication and patience as we navigate these uncertain times together.”
O’Rourke said NYRA is committed to running the Belmont Stakes this year and that NYRA hopes to make an announcement regarding its status “in the very near future.”
Beginning Friday, and with specific approval required by NYRA, trainers previously stabled at Belmont will be allowed to ship in horses who have been relocated during the COVID-19 crisis. To align with health department guidance and reduce the spread of the coronavirus, NYRA will not allow these outsider shippers to be accompanied by staff who had not been previously working at Belmont.
There are about 1,300 Thoroughbreds stabled on the Belmont backstretch, which is home to 585 workers who tend to the horses’ essential daily care.
While the tail end of the Aqueduct winter meet and entirety of the April 2-19 spring meet had been canceled, training has continued at Belmont. Live racing on the NYRA circuit was last conducted on Sunday, March 15 at Aqueduct.
Training at the Oklahoma Training Track in Saratoga Springs was scheduled to begin on Wednesday of this week, but has been postponed indefinitely.