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Sellout crowd expected at Belmont Park for American Pharoah's Triple Crown bid

Triple Crown challenger American Pharoah galloping around the

Triple Crown challenger American Pharoah galloping around the track with exercise rider Jorge Alvarez at Belmont Park Race Track in Elmont June 5, 2015. Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

A sellout crowd is expected to pack Belmont Park for Saturday's 147th running of the Belmont Stakes, lured by the chance to witness history as American Pharoah runs for the Triple Crown.

New York Racing Association spokesman John Durso Jr. said Friday he expected the last of the 90,000 tickets to be sold overnight. Tickets can't be purchased at the park on race day.

If American Pharoah is victorious, he will become the 12th horse to win the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes -- and the first since Affirmed in 1978.

He's set to face off against seven other horses -- none of which will have run all three races in the last five weeks -- to see who can complete one lap of the 11/2-mile track the fastest. Post time is 6:50 p.m.

Almost as important as the race itself for NYRA and the Long Island Rail Road will be what happens after it's over.

Last year, about 36,000 people overwhelmed the Belmont Park train station when they all left the event at the same time. Some riders waited up to 31/2 hours for a train. Parking lots were equally chaotic, with many drivers stuck idling for hours.

Since then, the NYRA and LIRR have spent millions on capacity improvements at the Belmont Park station, and the association and Nassau County police have promised the mass exit of vehicles will be smoother.

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