In a release issued Dec. 6, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul expressed excitement that the 2024 Belmont Stakes (G1) will be held at Saratoga Race Course to allow for the uninterrupted construction of a new and re-imagined Belmont Park, the Long Island home of the third leg of the Triple Crown.
"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," 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.'"
The New York Racing Association will increase the purse of the Belmont Stakes from $1.5 million to $2 million in 2024, the first significant increase since 2014. In addition, pending the approval of the North American Graded Stakes Committee, the Belmont Stakes 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.
Highlighted by the 156th edition of the Belmont Stakes 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 with purses totaling $9.7 million, the highest purse levels and number of stakes offered since the launch of the multi-day Belmont Stakes Racing Festival in 2014.
Following the conclusion of the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival at Saratoga, the NYRA circuit will return to Aqueduct Racetrack for the remainder of its spring meet before racing shifts to Saratoga for the annual 40-day summer meet beginning Thursday, July 11. Before 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 Stakes unfolds at Saratoga, the race was moved to Aqueduct Racetrack from 1963-67 when Belmont Park last underwent significant renovations. Traditionally run at the "Test of the Champion" distance of 1 1/2 miles, the distance has been adjusted throughout history and as recently as 2020 when the Triple Crown was modified because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier this year, Hochul's executive budget included a proposal for NYRA to build new Thoroughbred racing facilities at Belmont Park, and the enacted budget granted that approval. This project will upgrade 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 will also secure the future of horse racing, officials believe.
New York Racing Association president and CEO David O'Rourke said the move to Saratoga "will generate important economic impact and drive tourism throughout the Capital Region. We are thrilled to add a new chapter to the story of Thoroughbred racing in Saratoga Springs this June."
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.This press release has been edited for content and style by BloodHorse Staff.