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Belmont Stakes set for June with no fans

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The Belmont Stakes horse race will take place June 20 in New York without an audience and will run at a slightly shorter distance.

The New York Racing Association (NYRA) announced Tuesday that the Belmont Stakes will serve as the first leg of the Triple Crown for the first time. The NYRA also said the race will be 1 1/8 miles instead of the usual 1.5 miles, The Associated Press reported.

The race has not been this short of a distance since 1894 and has been run at 1.5 miles every year since 1926. NYRA said the adjustment would serve “to properly account for the schedule adjustments to the Triple Crown series and overall calendar for 3-year-olds in training.”

“The Belmont Stakes is a New York institution that will provide world-class entertainment for sports fans during these challenging times,” NYRA President and CEO Dave O’Rourke said. “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.”

The Belmont Stakes, originally scheduled for June 6, was rescheduled in late March along with all other racing events in the state after a backstretch worker tested positive for the virus, according to the AP. The Kentucky Derby has been rescheduled from May 2 to Sept. 5, while The Preakness has been moved from May 16 to Oct. 3.

“Everything’s going to be different this year, right?” horse trainer Mark Casse told the AP. “If well-planned out, it can be just as exciting. Why not? I don’t know if it’s necessarily the time of year. It’s just the events, and you’re still going to have great events.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced on Saturday that racing could resume in June as the state’s total hospitalizations continue to drop. He added that Watkins Glen International race track could be eligible to reopen for NASCAR races in August.

Tags Andrew Cuomo Belmont Stakes Coronavirus Horse races Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing

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