Posted: Dec. 8, 2023
New York Racing Association officials earlier this year indicated there was a good chance Saratoga Race Course would host the 2024 Belmont Stakes given a massive reconstruction project at Belmont Park, and on Dec. 7 Gov. Kathy Hochul made it official.
“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 in a relase. “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.”
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 in total 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.
NYRA will increase the purse of the Belmont Stakes from $1.5 million to $2 million in 2024, which is 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.
Earlier this year, Hochul’s executive budget included a proposal for NYRA to build new Thoroughbred racing facilities at Belmont Park. The 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.
The release said upgrading Belmont will also secure the future of the sport of horse racing, which sustains 19,000 jobs across the state and a $3 billion annual economic impact. The new Belmont Park will also dramatically expand the amount of open space available to fans and the surrounding community.
Following the conclusion of the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival at Saratoga, the NYRA circuit will return to Aqueduct Racetrack for the remainder of the spring meet before racing shifts to Saratoga for the annual 40-day summer meet beginning Thursday, July 11. Prior to the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival, the Belmont Park spring-summer meet will be conducted at Aqueduct. The fall meet customarily held at Belmont will again be shifted to Aqueduct in 2024 while construction of a new Belmont continues.
While 2024 will mark the first time the Belmont Stakes is held at Saratoga, the race was moved to Aqueduct from 1963-1967 when Belmont last underwent significant renovations. Traditionally run at 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.