The Belmont will be held at Saratoga next year, not Belmont.
Sweeping renovations at Belmont Park on Long Island, including replacing the grandstand and all three racecourses, were authorized in May by the New York State Legislature, putting the track in Elmont, N.Y., out of commission and requiring a temporary home for the Belmont Stakes, the third race in the Triple Crown.
The race will be part of a special session at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., from June 6 to 9, 2024, Gov. Kathy Hochul of New York announced Wednesday. It will include 23 stakes races, including the Belmont on June 8. Saratoga’s annual meeting will be held as usual from mid-July through Labor Day.
The rest of the racing at Belmont, normally held in the spring and fall, will be moved to the Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens in 2024. Once the renovations are complete, Belmont Park will have the ability to host racing year-round, and Aqueduct could close.
The Belmont Stakes started in 1867 at Jerome Park in what is now the north Bronx. It moved to Morris Park, also in the Bronx, in 1890 before moving to the newly built Belmont Park in Nassau County in 1905.
The race was last held somewhere other than Belmont from 1963 to 1967, when it was run at Aqueduct while Belmont was undergoing a previous renovation.
The Belmont Stakes is known for being contested at the punishing distance of 1½ miles, which has helped give it the nickname the Test of the Champion. But because of the track configuration at Saratoga, the 2024 Belmont will be 1¼ miles. It was run at a shorter distance, 1⅛ miles, in 2020 because the coronavirus pandemic scrambled the racing calendar.
The Belmont traditionally follows the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness as part of racing’s Triple Crown for 3-year-olds. Only 13 horses have won all three races, including Whirlaway, Secretariat, Seattle Slew and, most recently, Justify in 2018.
It is not known how running the Belmont at Saratoga will affect the result. But Saratoga has developed a reputation as a place where upsets happen, earning it the nickname the Graveyard of Champions. Man o’ War and the Triple Crown winners Secretariat and American Pharoah all lost at Saratoga.
The renovations at Belmont are expected to continue beyond 2024, but there was no immediate news about the site of the 2025 race. The grandstand will be modernized and made smaller for the smaller on-track crowds that horse racing has drawn in recent years. But there will be more accessible outdoor space to allow the track to host big crowds for the Belmont and the Breeders’ Cup.
The prize money for the 2024 Belmont will also be increased to $2 million from $1.5 million.