NYRA Delays Opening of Belmont Park spring/summer meet

April 16, 2020

Date for 152nd Belmont Stakes to be determined

ELMONT, N.Y. – The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) today announced that the opening of the Belmont Park spring/summer meet will be delayed due to the continuing impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Highlighted by the 152nd running of the Belmont Stakes on June 6, the 51-day Belmont Park spring/summer meet was originally scheduled to begin on April 24 and conclude on July 12.

“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,” said NYRA CEO and President Dave O’Rourke. “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.”

With regard to the 2020 Belmont Stakes, NYRA 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.

“The Belmont Stakes is a New York institution and American tradition,” said O’Rourke. “We are committed to running the race in 2020 and aim to deliver an announcement in the very near future.”

Beginning on April 17, 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 not previously working at Belmont.

The Belmont backstretch, which is home to 585 workers who tend to the essential daily care of the more than 1,300 thoroughbreds currently stabled on the property, has remained open to horsemen and operational for training. Owners are not permitted access to the backstretch until further notice.

Live racing on the NYRA circuit was last conducted on Sunday, March 15 at Aqueduct Racetrack. The Big A winter meet was scheduled to run through Sunday, March 29 until NYRA suspended racing on March 19 due to changing circumstances in the racing community relative to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

On April 1, NYRA announced the cancellation of the remainder of the Aqueduct winter meet as well as the Big A spring meet, which had been scheduled for April 2 through April 19.

For the safety of the Belmont backstretch community, a number of safeguards recommended by the Preparedness and Response Plan Committee have been in place since early March:

– NYRA is following best practices established by the New York State Department of Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control with regard to cleaning high touch areas and facilities. 

– Posting of coronavirus related signage in English and Spanish across the backstretch noting key information regarding social distancing, handwashing techniques, and a hotline to call for workers feeling the onset of symptoms.  

– Access to enter Belmont Park was restricted to Gate 6 and all workers, including licensed horsemen, that do not live on the backstretch are subject to a standard health assessment including temperature check.  

– The Belmont Park grounds are closed to ship-in horses with the exception of horses in extenuating circumstances subject to NYRA. 

– To eliminate congestion and encourage social distancing, a number of common areas have been closed or had their service modified including the recreation center, Morning Line café, track kitchen and clockers stand. The Morning Line café and track kitchen are providing grab-and-go food options to align with guidance from the New York State Department of Health. The clockers stand has been closed to all but essential safety personnel.

For more information, please visit https://www.nyra.com/belmont/.

NYRA Press Release 

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