Thoroughbred racing returned to Belmont Park on April 28 and offered horse fans a unique opportunity to catch a National Hockey League game the same night at UBS Arena, just steps from the grandiose track known as “Big Sandy”.
Belmont’s 44-day spring/summer meet opened on an autumn day with a one-and-a-sixteenth mile turf race, won by first runner Rheaume with jockey Trevor McCarthy aboard.
“I had a great start to the Belmont meet last year and it’s great to be back,” said McCarthy. “I’m just looking to build on my momentum from Aqueduct.”
The nine-run card ended 90 minutes before the New York Islanders faced the Washington Capitals in their penultimate home game of their inaugural season at UBS Arena. The Islanders picked up a 5-1 victory.
Marc Crandall, a Long Island native who moved to Florida in the mid-1990s, drove into town from Orlando to experience the new site 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 the UBS Arena reduced the size of the Belmont Park backyard and prompted updated safety and security protocols. Therefore, 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 liquor or coolers larger than a 12″x6 personal size”.
Tickets for Top of the Stretch tickets start at just $15 per person, which includes admission to the track and access to a shared table for the day. In addition to individual tables, complete sections within the Top of the Stretch can seat up to 48 people and include six picnic tables and two charcoal grills. Smaller sections of the Top of the Stretch can accommodate up to 32 people and include four picnic tables.
Admission to Belmont Park has remained consistent with past years. It’s $5 a day, outside of the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival anchored by the 154th Belmont States Race on June 11. Admission can be purchased in advance through Ticketmaster.com or at any entry gate. Entrance gates will open at 11 a.m. daily, unless otherwise specified. On Twilight race days, gates open at 1 p.m.
Daily posting time is 1 p.m. Twilight races will be offered on Thursdays starting next week with a 3:05 p.m. first post. a 12 p.m. first post.
Preferred parking will be available in the Clubhouse Gold and Silver lots, accessed via Gate 5 from Hempstead Turnpike. Clubhouse Gold parking is $10 and Silver parking is $5 per day, not including the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival. Prepaid parking can be purchased in advance through Ticketmaster.com. Sales on parking day will be by credit card only [no cash.] Limited free general parking will be available in 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) provides train service to and from Belmont Park every Saturday, throughout Memorial Day weekend. LIRR will extend the service to accommodate fans attending the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival, with timing to be announced ahead of the event.