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Shortened Belmont Stakes To Be Run On June 20 (Updated)

The usual final leg of the Triple Crown will now be its first—at a shorter length.

The Belmont Stakes will be the first leg of the Triple Crown for the first time in history. (Billy Francis LeRoux)

When Governor Cuomo announced this past weekend that the state’s horse racing tracks could reopen, without fans, as early as June 1—and in a separate announcement, fans learned that the Preakness Stakes would be taking place in October (the Kentucky Derby had already been shifted back to September)—it unofficially made the Belmont Stakes, the usual final leg of the Triple Crown, its first. Of course, that was contingent on the New York Racing Association (NYRA) running the race in the first place. And well, how couldn’t they?

On May 19 (today) NYRA has announced that the 152nd running of the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont, which will be shortened to 9 furlongs from the traditional 12, will take place on Saturday, June 20 at Belmont Park as the opening leg of the Triple Crown for the first time in history. And as noted above, it will be held without spectators.

“The Belmont Stakes is a New York institution that will provide world-class entertainment for sports fans during these challenging times,” said NYRA President and CEO David O’Rourke, in a prepared statement. “While this will certainly be a unique running of this historic race, we are grateful to be able to hold the Belmont Stakes in 2020. Thanks to our partners at NBC Sports, fans across the country can look forward to a day of exceptional Thoroughbred racing at a time when entertainment and sports are so important to providing a sense of normalcy.”

NBC Sports will present three hours of live coverage from Belmont on Saturday, June 20 beginning at 3pm ET.

Traditionally contested at 1 1/2 miles and held as the third and final leg of the Triple Crown, the Belmont will this year be run at a distance of 1 1/8 miles to properly account for the schedule adjustments to the Triple Crown series and overall calendar for 3-year-olds in training. (Back in the 19th century, the race was first run at a distance of 1 5/8 miles; it was also run at 9 furlongs 1893-94.)

The Triple Crown legs will now run as follows: the Belmont (June 20), Derby (September 5) and Preakness (October 3). It remains to be seen how this will affect the Saratoga Race Course schedule, particularly the running of the Travers Stakes, which usually falls after the third leg of the Triple Crown has already run.

Check out the new, fully updated schedule for Belmont below.

Week 1

Wednesday, June 3
Beaugay, Grade 3, $100,000

Thursday, June 4
Tiller, $80,000

Friday, June 5
Harmony Lodge, $80,000

Saturday, June 6
Runhappy Carter Handicap, Grade 1, $250,000
Fort Marcy, Grade 2, $150,000
Westchester, Grade 3, $100,000
Intercontinental, Grade 3, $100,000

Sunday, June 7
First Defence, $80,000

Week 2

Thursday, June 11
Flat Out, $80,000

Friday, June 12
Commentator Handicap, $125,000

Saturday, June 13
Ogden Phipps, Grade 1, $300,000

Sunday, June 14
Mike Lee, $100,000

Week 3

Thursday, June 18
Critical Eye Handicap, $125,000

Friday, June 19
Sir Cat, $80,000

Saturday, June 20—Belmont Stakes Day
Belmont Stakes, Grade 1, $1 million
Acorn, Grade 1, $300,000
Jaipur “Presented by America’s Best Racing,” Grade 1, $250,000
Woody Stephens “Presented by Claiborne Farm,” Grade 1, $250,000
Pennine Ridge, Grade 2, $150,000
Wonder Again, Grade 3, $150,000

Sunday, June 21
Lady Shipman, $80,000

Week 4

Thursday, June 25
Easy Goer, $80,000

Friday, June 26
Hessonite, $75,000

Saturday, June 27
Just A Game, Grade 1, $300,000
New York, Grade 2, $250,000
True North, Grade 2, $150,000
Vagrancy Handicap, Grade 3, $100,000

 

—Additional reporting by Jeff Dingler

Avatar
Will Levith

Will Levith is Editorial Director at Saratoga Living and Capital Region Living magazine. He's a native Saratogian and graduate of Saratoga Springs High School. His work has been published by Esquire, Playboy, Condé Nast Traveler, Men's Health, RealClearLife and many others. He lives in Troy with his wife, Laura, and dog, Esopus.

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