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Belmont Park renovations expected to be complete by fall 2026, Gov. Kathy Hochul says

Governor's office shares update on project to modernize Belmont Park
Governor's office shares update on project to modernize Belmont Park 00:27

ELMONT, N.Y. -- Renovations to Belmont Park are expected to pave the way for the racetrack to host the Belmont Stakes in June 2026.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul on Monday unveiled a construction timeline that includes the $455 million project being fully completed by fall of that year, which could allow the Breeders' Cup to return to the remade New York track in November 2026. The third leg of horse racing's Triple Crown would be back from a two-year stint elsewhere with limited attendance and use of the newly opened infield space.

"The redevelopment of Belmont Park is a critical investment in one of New York's most historic sporting venues," Hochul said in statement. "The new facility will support year-round racing, thousands of new jobs for Long Islanders and provide an enhanced experience for customers attending the iconic Belmont Stakes for generations to come."

Breeders' Cup officials in a 2022 letter to the New York Racing Association expressed support for the project, even while not committing to a year in which to hold the two-day international festival at Belmont Park. Paraphrasing the baseball movie "Field of Dreams," Breeders' Cup president and CEO Drew Fleming and chairman of the board Barbara Banke wrote to NYRA, "If you build it, we will come."

"Simply put, it has been far too long since the Breeders' Cup world championships have been held in New York, and the only hurdle is the existing infrastructure at Belmont Park," Banke and Fleming wrote to NYRA president and CEO David O'Rourke at the time. "We stand ready to support the efforts to build a new Belmont Park and look forward to the opportunity to partner with NYRA and and New York to showcase the leading role of New York racing to the world."

A spokesperson said Tuesday the Breeders' Cup does not comment on host locations before they're announced but is looking forward to working with New York to hold the event there.

Del Mar Thoroughbred Club in Southern California is set to host each of the next two years.

Belmont Park has hosted the Breeders' Cup four times: in 1990, '95, 2001 and '05. After the renovations, the 50,000-capacity track will be winterized and updated for everyday racing, with the ability to expand for big racing days like the Belmont Stakes.

"The new Belmont Park will be a thoroughly modern racing and entertainment facility that will take its place on the global stage among iconic venues like Ascot, Longchamp and The Curragh," NYRA board of directors chair Marc Holliday said, referring to some of the more famous tracks in Europe. "It is an honor to design and develop a venue that will appeal to racing enthusiasts and attract a new generation of fans."

The Belmont Stakes is set to be held at Saratoga Race Course in upstate New York the next two years while construction is ongoing. All racing activity in the New York City area temporarily has been consolidated to Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, while training has continued at Belmont Park, including a synthetic pony track that can be used during inclement weather.

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