If American Pharoah wins the Preakness May 16 and is going for the Triple Crown on June 6 at Belmont Park, the demand for tickets could exceed the supply. New York Racing Association CEO Chris Kay said Wednesday that regardless of the Preakness result, the crowd on Belmont Stakes day will be capped at 90,000.
When asked why NYRA settled on that figure, Kay said, "We thought for our facilities 90,000 is the right number to maximize attendance and the enjoyment of the experience."
If the Kentucky Derby winner falls short next weekend at Pimlico, it's highly unlikely that NYRA's ticket cap will come into play. The past three times no Triple Crown was on the line, Belmont day's highest attendance was 55,779. (Three years ago, Derby-Preakness winner I'll Have Another was scratched the day before the race because of an injury. That Belmont drew 85,811, but many already had bought tickets and came anyway.)
The two most recent failed Triple Crown bids, by California Chrome last year and by Big Brown in 2008, drew 102,109 and 94,476, respectively.
Martin Panza, NYRA's senior vice president of racing operations, said 17 stakes will be run at the three-day Belmont Stakes Festival that begins Thursday, June 4. There will be two stakes that day and five the next. Besides the 147th Belmont, Saturday's 10-stakes card will feature five other Grade I events - the Met Mile, Manhattan, Ogden Phipps, Acorn and Just a Game.