There was no Triple Crown in play for the Belmont Stakes Saturday, so the crowd wasn’t going to be as large, but large enough for the LIRR to still add extra trains for the coming and going.
Trains on the Hempstead, Oyster Bay, Port Jefferson and Ronkonkoma branches were running with up to 20-minute delays during the day due to a train that struck and killed someone on the track to the west of Queens Village.
But when Robert Troiano of Ronkonkoma and Robin-Anne Terano of Nesconset emerged together with the crowd at the Belmont Park train station around 2:30, they weren’t sweating over their trip. They reported no problems.
“We got right on the train to get here,” Terano said. “The only delay was waiting for two other trains to leave this track so we could pull in.”
They were just two fans among the 57,729 on hand who were happy to be here to see Tapwrit win the 149th “Test of the Champion.” Both were also here two years ago and watched American Pharoah rule, finishing off his Triple Crown.
“It’s kind of like the Super Bowl, and it’s awesome,” Troiano said. “ … You know what I noticed? Look at all the young kids that are here today. That’s a good sign for racing.”
These two adults weren’t deterred over the fact there was no Triple Crown at stake during the 13-race card.
“That’s all right,” Terano said. “It’s still a good day at the track.”
At a little after 3, Kevin Lake was getting off a shuttle bus from one of the lots. It had taken the 50-year-old retiree, his wife and sister-in-law just about a half hour to drive to the Elmont grounds from Wantagh.
“There was a lot of traffic on Hempstead Turnpike, but the Southern State was good,” Lake said.
The Kentucky Derby and Preakness winners weren’t here, but Lake was. So this was also a good day at the track for him.
“I’m excited,” Lake said. “I’m almost glad it’s not a Triple Crown because you can get in. When it’s a Triple Crown, it’s almost impossible to get in here. It’s crazy.”
The LIRR had previously announced that waits for trains after the big race could be anywhere from 15 minutes to two hours.
Trains were scheduled to depart from Belmont Park through 10 p.m. to accommodate fans staying for a concert following the final race of the day. In fact, the LIRR urged people on its Twitter account to stay for the music in order to limit the mass of humanity suddenly surging to the station.