Belmont Stakes to be held June 20 at shorter distance
The Belmont Stakes will take place June 20 without spectators and will be shortened from its traditional length of 1 1/2 miles to 1 1/8 miles, the New York Racing Association announced Tuesday.
The Belmont, which is traditionally the third leg of the Triple Crown, will be the first leg this year for the first time. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Belmont has been second in some years but never first.
The race has been run at 1 1/2 miles since 1926.
“The Belmont Stakes is a New York institution that will provide world-class entertainment for sports fans during these challenging times,” NYRA president Dave O’Rourke said in a 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. … 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.”
The Belmont Stakes was originally scheduled for June 6.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Kentucky Derby, usually the first leg, was rescheduled from May 2 to Sept. 5, while the Preakness Stakes, usually the second leg, was rescheduled from May 16 to Oct. 3.
Belmont Park will reopen during the first week of June. Under New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s guidelines, fans will not be permitted in the stands.