Two-thirds of thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown now have rescheduled race dates.
It just remains to be seen when the New York Racing Association will attempt to conduct the 152nd running of the Belmont Stakes, typically the final leg of the series. For now, it is still scheduled for June 6, though NYRA has postponed the start of the spring/summer meet at Belmont Park in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Saturday was supposed to be the 145th running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland. Instead, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced on NBC that the race is now scheduled for Oct. 3.
The Kentucky Derby, typically Triple Crown’s first leg, had already been re-scheduled for Sept. 5 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky instead of the 146th running taking place on May 2 as originally planned.
Some clarity on the Belmont Stakes is expected soon.
On Friday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced horse racing could resume in New York state – without fans in the grandstands – on June 1.
NYRA president and CEO Dave O’Rourke released a statement on Friday applauding Gov. Cuomo’s decision and indicating, “NYRA will announce race dates and a corresponding stakes schedule for the 2020 spring/summer meet at Belmont Park in the very near future.”
“This is a reasoned and responsible decision by Governor Cuomo that will enable horse racing to resume in a way that prioritizes health and safety while recognizing that NYRA is the cornerstone of an industry responsible for 19,000 jobs and $3 billion in annual economic impact,” O’Rourke said. “We look forward to the resumption of live racing at Belmont Park with all appropriate health and safety protocols in place to support the hundreds of small businesses, family-owned farms and thousands of hourly workers who form the backbone of thoroughbred racing in New York.”
NYRA continued to conduct racing without fans at Aqueduct from March 13-15 before announcing on March 19 it was suspending its meet.
However, work has continued at Belmont Park, just without the live racing.
Around 1,400 horses are currently on the 440-acre property with about 800 backstretch workers maintaining the horses’ training regimens.
NYRA officials have sent a detailed proposal to Gov. Cuomo as to how racing can resume – quickly – without a live audience.
“NYRA has developed a comprehensive safety plan that builds on our experience of operating training safely and responsibly during the pandemic, and includes extensive protocols to keep our community safe,” O’Rourke said.