Thoroughbred racing returned to Belmont Park on April 28 and allowed equine fans a unique opportunity to attend a National Hockey League game that same evening at UBS Arena, just a short walk from the grandiose track known as “Big Sandy.”
Belmont’s 44-day spring/summer meet opened on a fall-like day with a mile-and-a-sixteenth turf race, won by first-time starter Rheaume with jockey Trevor McCarthy aboard.
“I had a great start to the Belmont meet last year and it’s great to be back,” McCarthy said. “I’m just looking to continue my momentum from Aqueduct.”
The nine-race card concluded 90 minutes before to the New York Islanders faced the Washington Capitals in their penultimate home game in their inaugural season at UBS Arena. The Islanders rolled to a 5-1 victory.
Marc Crandall, a Long Island native who moved to Florida in the mid-1990s, flew into town from Orlando to check out the new venue for the first time and join friends for a day at the races. “It was such an amazing day and night,” Crandall said.
The construction of UBS Arena reduced the size of the Belmont Park backyard and resulted in updated safety and security protocols. As a result, outside alcoholic beverages and large coolers will only be permitted in the Top of the Stretch reserved picnic area. Fans will no longer be permitted to enter other areas of Belmont Park with outside alcoholic beverages or coolers larger than a personal-sized 12”x6”.
Tickets to the Top of the Stretch start at just $15 per person, which includes track admission and access to a shared table for the day. In addition to individual tables, full sections within the Top of the Stretch can accommodate up to 48 guests and include six picnic tables and two charcoal grills. Smaller sections of the Top of the Stretch can accommodate up to 32 guests and include four picnic tables.
Admission to Belmont Park remained consistent with recent years. It’s $5 daily, outside of the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival anchored by the 154th running of the Belmont States on June 11. Admission may be purchased in advance via Ticketmaster.com or at any admission gate. Admission gates will open at 11 a.m. daily, unless otherwise indicated. On Twilight racing days, admission gates open at 1 p.m.
Daily post time is 1 p.m. Twilight racing will be offered on Thursdays beginning next week with a first post of 3:05 p.m. First post on Kentucky Derby Day, May 7, will be 12:20 p.m., while Preakness Day, May 21, has a 12 p.m. first post.
Preferred parking will be available in the Clubhouse Gold and Silver lots, which are accessible via Gate 5 off Hempstead Turnpike. Clubhouse Gold parking is $10 and Silver parking is $5 daily, not including the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival. Prepaid parking may be purchased in advance via Ticketmaster.com. Day-of-parking sales will be credit card only [no cash.] Limited free general parking will be available within the Emerald lot, accessible via the Cross Island Parkway, Exit 26D; and the Blue lot, accessible via Gate 5.
The Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) is providing train service to and from Belmont Park every Saturday, throughout Memorial Day weekend. LIRR will expand service to accommodate fans attending the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival, with the schedule to be announced prior to the event.