Belmont Stakes to move to Saratoga Race Course in 2024

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With historic Belmont Park undergoing major renovations, the Belmont Stakes will relocate to Saratoga Race Course, New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced Wednesday. It is the first time the race will be run at Saratoga, but potentially not the last. The $455 million Belmont track overhaul could keep the third leg of the Triple Crown in Saratoga for 2025.

Because of the shape of the Saratoga track, the Belmont likely will be shortened from 1 1/2 miles to 1 1/4, pending approval from the North American Graded Stakes Committee. The longest and therefore often most grueling leg of the Triple Crown, the Belmont has been run at its traditional length since 1926. It pivoted only once before, back in 2020 when, during the COVID-19 pandemic, officials made the Belmont the first of the Triple Crown races shorter to accommodate the training schedule of the 3-year-old horses. Comparatively, the Kentucky Derby is 1 1/4 miles and the Preakness 1 3/16.

Officials also plan to bump the purse for the Belmont from $1.5 million to $2 million and turn the race into a four-day festival, including 23 stakes races. They also hope that the switch to the stately track will bump up interest and viewership. Last year’s race — without a Triple Crown on the line — drew only 3.52 million, the smallest audience in decades, not counting the COVID year.

The Belmont Stakes was first run at Jerome Park in the Bronx in 1866, before moving to Morris Park Racecourse in 1890. In 1905, it moved to the new Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y., where it has been run every year save 1911 and 1912, when it was canceled due to anti-gambling legislation in New York state.

(Photo: Al Bello / Getty Images)

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Dana O'Neil

Dana O’Neil, a senior writer for The Athletic, has worked for more than 25 years as a sports writer, covering the Final Four, the Super Bowl, World Series, NBA Finals and NHL playoffs. She has worked previously at ESPN and the Philadelphia Daily News. She is the author of three books, including "The Big East: Inside the Most Entertaining and Influential Conference in College Basketball History." Follow Dana on Twitter @DanaONeilWriter

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