Belmont Park
Rashed Mian/Long Island Press

The New York Racing Association (NYRA) announced on Wednesday that Belmont Park in Elmont, home to one of the most famous horse racing tracks in the world, will re-open to limited spectators on Saturday, May 1.

“NYRA has been working collectively toward this goal since the start of the pandemic and we are thrilled to be able to welcome fans back to Belmont Park,” said NYRA President & CEO Dave O’Rourke. “We thank our fans for their loyalty and support over this challenging year and look forward to the spring and summer ahead.”

The track can be filled at 20% capacity, as dictated by Governor Andrew Cuomo, meaning roughly 6,500 fans will be admitted.

To open its doors to fans, Belmont Park had to meet detailed racetrack health and safety protocols issued by New York State, which dictates that spectators attending must purchase tickets in advance while adhering to strict health and safety protocols to ensure a safe environment during what is hopefully the final stages of the COVID-19 pandemic as we know it.

Those attending the track must show proof of a completed vaccination — which means two weeks after the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or the first and only dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine — or a negative COVID-19 test result that was administered within 72 hours of the event if not fully vaccinated.

After doors open at 11 am ET on Saturday at Belmont Park, three graded events will be run: the Grade 2, $200,000 Fort Marcy for older horses at nine furlongs on turf; the Grade 2, $200,000 Sheepshead Bay at 11 furlongs on turf for older fillies and mares; and the Grade 3, $200,000 Westchester at one mile on the main track for older horses.

The first post is scheduled for 12:20 pm ET.

Later that day, spectators will be allowed to wager on and watch the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby — the first jewel of the Triple Crown — from Churchill Downs, which is expected to run at 6:57 p.m. ET.

The Belmont Stakes, which is the third jewel of the Triple Crown, will run at the park in Elmont for its 153rd installment on June 5.

This story first appeared on amNY.com.
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