The Belmont Stakes traditionally takes place every June at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York. As the third and final leg in horse racing’s Triple Crown the event is always scheduled five weeks after the Kentucky Derby and two weeks after the Preakness Stakes. While the Belmont Stakes itself is the ‘main event’ of the racing weekend there are several prestigious stakes races contested on the ‘undercard’ every year.
The 2016 Belmont Stakes will take place on Saturday, June 11 with live television coverage of the race itself on NBC. NBC has made a strong commitment to covering horse racing of late so you can expect coverage of many of the events leading up to the Belmont Stakes on NBC Sports (formerly Versus). As always there will be a full analysis of the Belmont and pre and post race coverage on the dedicated horse racing networks TVG and HRTV and audio coverage on HRRN (Horse Racing Radio Network). For those looking to attend the race live, gates open at 8:30 AM. In addition to the highly sought after reserved seating, Belmont Park admits thousands of fans via general admission on a first come, first served basis.
The stakes races on the Belmont undercard are as follows:
—The Metropolitan Mile: Officially known as ‘The Metropolitan Handicap’, this is a Grade 1 stakes race on dirt for horses three years old and up with a purse of $1.25 million. The ‘Met Mile’ has a long history and was first run at Morris Park in 1891 before moving to Belmont Park in 1904. The Met Mile has been run almost every year since with a stint at Aqueduct in the 1960’s. This race is traditionally run in late May but starting in 2014 has been moved back a week to bolster the Belmont Stakes undercard. The victor in the 2014 Met Mile was Palace Malice with jockey John Velasquez.
—The Manhattan Handicap: This race is run on Belmont’s turf course over a mile and a quarter distance for fillies and mares three years old and up. This race has a purse of $1,000,000 and has traditionally been run immediately before the Belmont Stakes. That changed in 2014 with the move of The Metropolitan Mile to the Belmont Stakes card, and the Manhattan Handicap will immediately precede that race. The 2014 winner was Real Solution with jockey Javier Castellano.
—The Ogden Phipps Handicap: Another rescheduled race, the Ogden Phipps Handicap had until 2014 contested in mid-June. The race is a Grade 1 with a purse of $1,000,000 contested over a mile and a half on a dirt track. It is open to fillies and mares four years old and up. Close Hatches with Joel Rosario aboard won the 2014 race.
—The ‘Just A Game’ Stakes: Named after the top filly of 1980, the Just A Game Stakes is a Grade 1 race held on the turf course over a distance of one mile with a purse of $750,000. The event is open to fillies and mares three years and older. The 2014 race winner was Coffee Clique with jockey Javier Castellano aboard.
—The Acorn Stakes: A one mile race on a dirt track for fillies three years old and up, the Acorn is a Grade 1 race with a $750,000 purse. Sweet Reason with jockey Irad Ortiz, Junior won the 2014 race.
—The Brooklyn Invitational: Known for years as the ‘Brooklyn Handicap’, this race was first run in 1887 at the Gravesend Race Track on Coney Island and called three other tracks home before moving to Belmont Park for good in 1977. It’s a Grade 2 race over a dirt track of a mile and a half for horses four years old and up with a purse of $500,000. Norumbega with jockey Joel Rosario was the 2014 winner.
—The Woody Stephens Stakes: Named for the Hall of Fame trainer, The Woody Stephens Stakes is contested by 3-year-olds at a distance of seven furlongs with a purse of $500,000. The 2014 winner was Bayern with jockey Gary Stephens.
The main event of the day is the Belmont Stakes itself. It is a Grade 1 race over a mile and a half distance on a dirt track for three-year-old fillies and mares with a purse of $1,500,000. The live coverage of the event on NBC begins at 5:00 PM though the actual post time varies. The defending Belmont Stakes champion is Tonalist, who won the race for trainer Christophe Clement with jockey Joel Rosario aboard.
The Belmont Stakes day racing card is scheduled to get underway at 11:35 AM Eastern with a total of nine stakes races on the card. The tentative post time for the Belmont Stakes is 6:35 PM Eastern.