Belmont Park reopens for racing as air quality improves

A handler leads a horse back into the stables as the sun is obscured by haze
A handler leads a horse back into the stables as the sun is obscured by haze caused by Canadian wildfires ahead of the Belmont Stakes horse race Thursday.
(John Minchillo/AP)
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As the smoke from the Canadian wildfires lifted from the New York area, Belmont Park was allowed to reopen Friday and Saturday’s Belmont Stakes was back on.

Racing and training were halted Thursday and the first of the three-day Belmont Stakes Racing Festival was canceled. The move was at first voluntary by the New York Racing Assn. (NYRA) but later in the day the New York State Gaming Commission, on the wishes of Gov. Kathy Hochul, shut down racing and training until air quality conditions improved.

Belmont Stakes officials are hopeful air quality will improve to allow racing to resume Friday, but the state stepped in and will make the final call.

June 8, 2023

And they did overnight. At 8 a.m., the air quality index was 57, a vast improvement from Wednesday when it reached the mid-200s.


“Moving forward, NYRA will continue to actively monitor air quality conditions and forecasts to ensure the environment remains safe for racing participants and fans this weekend,” a NYRA news release stated.

Friday’s 11-race card will have five graded stakes races. Saturday will be the running of the 155th Belmont Stakes, one of nine graded stakes.