Horses break from the gate during the start of the...

Horses break from the gate during the start of the Breeders' Cup Distaff at Del Mar Race Track on November 06, 2021 in Del Mar, California.  Credit: Getty Images

The Breeders’ Cup is willing to return to Belmont Park provided the aging horse racing facility is modernized and its surrounding infrastructure improved.

That was the crux of a letter sent to the New York Racing Association co-signed by Breeders’ Cup Limited chairman of the board Barbara Banke and president and CEO Drew Fleming and obtained by Newsday.

Belmont Park hosted the annual two-day championship thoroughbred festival in 1990, 1995, 2001 and 2005 before it was determined the non-heated, non-winterized racetrack and surrounding facilities such as hotels were inadequate.

This year’s Breeders’ Cup will be run on Friday and Saturday at Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky. Monmouth Park in Oceanport, New Jersey has also been included in the rotation of racetracks hosting the Breeders’ Cup.

The upcoming legislative session in Albany will consider authorizing $450 million in state-backed bonding for improvements at Belmont Park, including upgrades to winterize the cavernous grandstand.

The We Are New York Horse Racing Coalition, which includes NYRA, is strongly lobbying for that legislation to pass.

“A new Belmont Park will provide New York with a world-class sports and entertainment venue perfectly suited to regularly host the Breeders’ Cup and deepen the sport’s economic impact throughout the region,” NYRA vice president of communications Patrick McKenna said.

Banke and Fleming’s letter to NYRA cited the $97 million the Breeders’ Cup brought to San Diego in 2017 as an indicator of the potential economic impact the races would have.

“We are writing to reaffirm the strong desire of the Breeders’ Cup to host the Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Belmont Park as soon as the potential infrastructure projects we discussed are complete,” the letter read.

“If you build it, we will come.”

Belmont Park is currently undergoing renovations that include tunnels being built that will allow both vehicles and fans to access the Belmont Park infield and the reconstruction of the main dirt track and the two turf courses. It also opens the possibility of installing a synthetic track in the future.

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