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OpinionLetters

Letter: Seize Belmont Stakes opportunity

Madefromlucky, with Javier Castellano, wins the 61st running

Madefromlucky, with Javier Castellano, wins the 61st running of the Grade II Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park on May 9, 2015. Photo Credit: AP / Sue Kawczynski

From the first Saturday in May to five weeks later at the Belmont Stakes, fans in the United States and abroad concentrate on horse racing like no other time during the year ["They're off and running: LIRR vows smoother service for Belmont Stakes," News, May 19.

When the racing gods allow the same horse to win the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, even the casual race fan and once-a-year fan begin to debate about the Triple Crown possibility at the Belmont Stakes. Wow, what a bonanza for New York, the New York Racing Association, and horse racing in general. Churchill Downs had 170,000-plus in attendance, the small Pimlico Race Course had 130,000, and the very large Belmont Park is limiting attendance to 90,000.

What's going on here? Shouldn't NYRA be promoting this great sporting spectacle and thanking its lucky stars that American Pharoah has a very good chance to break the Triple Crown jinx?

Unfortunately, after doing a very poor job of handling a large crowd last year and being under the critical eye of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who seems intent on taking NYRA's franchise away, the association is running scared and taking the easy way out.

NYRA will explain that it's all for the enhancement of the "guest" experience that the crowd is limited. NYRA should promote this race as it deserves and make every provision for the largest crowd in Belmont history at this largest racetrack in the country.

The infield at Belmont is 30 to 40 acres, and even without the infield, Belmont's massive grandstand can accommodate more than 125,000.

With all the financial difficulties NYRA has endured, this should be a home run for the association, not a potential disappointment.

Gerard Porcelli, Farmingdale

Editor's note: The writer is a retired NYRA track superintendent.

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