A Breeders' Cup-style event in late spring on Long Island? That's what the New York Racing Association will present June 7, the day of the 146th Belmont Stakes.
The addition of five stakes, including the Grade I Met Mile, will make the 2014 Belmont's card the second-richest in North America this year, NYRA announced Friday. It will offer 10 stakes worth $7.7 million on a 13-race program with purses totaling $8 million, including $300,000 for three allowance races. In 2013, only Breeders' Cup Saturday at Santa Anita ($19.5 million for nine stakes) exceeded that amount.
"We've put together the finest day of racing in Belmont Stakes history," said Chris Kay, NYRA president and CEO. "We wanted to create a day that would grab people's attention in classic, bigger-than-life New York style."
Belmont Stakes day will be the centerpiece of a three-day racing festival starting Friday.
That will include "a wide array of hospitality and entertainment options" to be announced. NBC and NBC Sports Network will provide live TV coverage Saturday.
Some may argue that doubling Belmont Park's stakes action on the day of the Triple Crown finale will be too much of a good thing. Besides the $1.5-million Belmont and its traditional supporting features -- the Manhattan, Just a Game, Woody Stephens and Easy Goer -- joining the mix will be the $1.25-million Met Mile, a longtime Memorial Day fixture, plus the $1-million Ogden Phipps, $750,000 Acorn, $500,000 Brooklyn and $300,000 Jaipur.
Martin Panza, NYRA senior vice president of racing operations, said: "I see June 7 as a summertime Breeders' Cup-type event. Fans and New York horsemen deserve an exciting day like this."
Kay said he "certainly hopes we have a very large crowd that day . . . looking for 70, 80, 90 thousand even if no Triple Crown is on the line."
Kay said NYRA will release ticket prices "in about a month," and that they would be comparable to those at Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby and at Pimlico for the Preakness.
Last year's Derby Day prices for general admission were $40 in advance and $50 on race day, significantly higher than Belmont Stakes day ($10 grandstand, $20 clubhouse). Pimlico charged $25 for general admission to the Preakness.