Horses parade in front of an empty grandstand a few...

Horses parade in front of an empty grandstand a few minutes before post time for the 152nd running of the Belmont Stakes horse race, Saturday, June 20, 2020, in Elmont, N.Y. A little over a year from now, after it hosts the Belmont Stakes in 2024, Belmont Park is set to undergo a $455 million renovation of everything from the track surfaces to a brand new, smaller grandstand more fit for the sport in the modern era. Credit: AP/Seth Wenig

The home of the third and final leg of horse racing's Triple Crown is finally getting a major makeover.

A little over a year from now, after it hosts the Belmont Stakes in 2024, Belmont Park is set to undergo a $455 million renovation of everything from the track surfaces to a new, smaller grandstand more fit for the sport in the modern era.

Once completed, the track should host the best horses in the world for a Breeders' Cup in the not-too-distant future, but the expected construction timeline raises the question of where the 2025 Belmont will take place. New York Racing Association president and CEO Dave O'Rourke expects a clearer answer on that in the coming months when the project is further along.

The 1 1/2-mile race known as “the test of the champion” has been run before at Aqueduct in Queens, from 1963-67 when Belmont Park was last being renovated. It has never been run at Saratoga in upstate New York before, and that is an intriguing possibility.

“Saratoga would be an interesting one for, like, a festival for a few days,” O'Rourke told The Associated Press by phone this week. “It might set some (attendance) benchmarks that may be tough to beat. But I think it would be incredible from a fan perspective. A lot of it’s logistics.”

The renovation involves knocking down the massive, 1.25 million-square-foot grandstand that has been in place since 1968 and replace it with one that's roughly 275,000 square feet. Tunnels were installed to make the infield accessible, and now the goal is to create more green space for a more park-like atmosphere, moving away from the old structure that was constructed with two sole purposes: places to bet on horse races and a view from which to watch them.

O'Rourke envisions a place that's perfect for a nice spring outing on a Thursday in May that can then be expanded for major race days like the Belmont or Breeders' Cup weekend.

American Pharoah gallops past the grandstand with Victor Espinoza up...

American Pharoah gallops past the grandstand with Victor Espinoza up after crossing the finish line to win the 147th running of the Belmont Stakes horse race at Belmont Park, Saturday, June 6, 2015, in Elmont, N.Y. A little over a year from now, after it hosts the Belmont Stakes in 2024, Belmont Park is set to undergo a $455 million renovation of everything from the track surfaces to a brand new, smaller grandstand more fit for the sport in the modern era. Credit: AP/Julio Cortez

“Versatility is going to be very important with the with the project,” he said. “It could be made to feel intimate. And then for scaling up, as part of the project, is to put the infrastructure in so you can scale up with tenting for these big events.”

With safety being the primary focus, the dirt and turf tracks will also be re-done and winterized for year-round racing and a synthetic oval added. NYRA last year installed a Tapeta surface, made up of silica sand, wax and fibers that has shown to lead to fewer fatalities, on their pony track used mostly for jogging horses to see how it would handle the climate and weather changes.

“We believe that it’s a methodical approach that this is continuing,” O'Rourke said. “And what should result is continuing improvement in (safety) statistics.”

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