Belmont Park is a 430-acre race track in Elmont, N.Y. There are typically two race meetings (or seasons) at Belmont Park race track each year - the Spring / Summer meeting and the Fall Championship meeting. The duration of these meetings typically span from 1 to 2 months.
The track is the home of the Belmont Stakes, the third jewel in horse racing's Triple Crown. Originally run at Jerome Park in Westchester, N.Y., the Belmont Stakes is the longest of all the Triple Crown races at 1 ½ miles. Many Triple Crown title contenders have found this race to be the most challenging of the three races.
Each year, Belmont Park plays host to some of the major stakes events in America. Aside from the prestigious Belmont Stakes, major stakes events hosted by the track are the Coaching Club American Oaks, the New York Handicap, the Prioress, the Beldame, the Frizette and the Suburban Handicap.
Belmont Park is credited for instituting two important firsts in racing - one is the live "call" of the race over public address system, and the other is the photo finish camera.
Belmont Park Track Facts
|Main Course||:||1 1/2 Miles|
|Last Turn to Finish on Main Track||:||1,097 feet|
|Widener Turf Course||:||1 5/16 Miles|
|Inner Turf Course||:||1 3/16 Miles|
|Attendance Capacity||:||85,000 - 90,000|
|Parking Capacity||:||18,500 cars|
|Total Seating Capacity||:||32,941|
Belmont Park History
In colonial days, horse racing was an exciting diversion for the citizenry and races were often run on the "Hempstead Plain" which is now the site of Belmont Park.
Belmont Park was opened in 1905 by the Westchester Racing Association. In keeping with English tradition, races were initially run clockwise on its 1.5 mile oval with a 7-furlong straightaway.
Belmont Park soon became very successful, partly due to convenient access to the Long Island Railroad terminal. However, state law banned racing and wagering in 1910, and Belmont Park was forced to make ends meet by hosting aerial tournaments and activities. The grounds later became the New York terminal of the first American airmail service between New York and Washington, DC.
Racing was subsequently legalized in 1913 and was resumed at Belmont Park that same year. Massive fires in 1917 destroyed the main grandstand, the jockeys' quarter, the Long Island Railroad terminal, the luxurious clubhouse, and killed several prized horses. Notwithstanding these setbacks, Belmont Park continued the season but the renovations took over three years to complete.
Over the succeeding years, Belmont Park was able to regain its glory. Many of America's famous horses have had the opportunity to race at the track. Two of them were Citation, who became a favorite at Belmont Park as he won multiple stakes races on his way to winning the 1948 Triple Crown; and Secretariat, who won the 1973 Belmont Stakes to capture that year's Triple Crown.