Horse Racing

Belmont Park cancels June 8 due to poor air quality

The New York Racing Association announced the cancellation of the race on June 8 at Belmont Park due to poor air quality conditions that are forecast to affect Long Island and the entire State of New York throughout the day.

The state of the race for the rest of the Belmont Stakes week remains unclear, with future cards potentially in jeopardy if the hazardous air quality persists.

Smoke from the Canadian wildfires began drifting south this week, blanketing cities in the northeastern United States in haze, in addition to some cities north of the border. Several races were canceled on June 7 and many more later on Thursday, including Honeysuckle in Canada. Several outdoor sporting events were also canceled midweek in the Northeast.

“Safety is paramount as we navigate this unprecedented situation,” said NYRA President and CEO David O’Rourke. “NYRA will actively monitor all available weather data and information as we work to resume training and racing here at Belmont Park and Saratoga Racecourse. Based on models Current forecasts and in consultation with our outside weather services, we remain optimistic that we will see an improvement in air quality by Friday.”

200,000 Shares of Wonder Again (G2T) and $150,000 in Jersey Girl Shares, set for Thursday, will be rescheduled for June 11 in Belmont. Those races will be returned as additions to the Sunday pass and re-drawn.

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On June 7, NYRA announced the cancellation of Thursday morning practice at both Racecourse Saratoga And Belmont Park. The NYRA said the conditions leading up to that cancellation are likely to last this afternoon and into the evening, leading to Thursday’s race being cancelled.

With the health of fans, participants and horses in mind, Tom Bellhouse, executive vice president of Thoroughbred West Point, agreed with the NYRA’s decision.

“Certainly,” said Bellhouse. “I’ve been down here for a few days and you could see it clearly yesterday. It’s a cloud and a overlay over the city when you cross the bridge.

“And if you’re outside you can smell it in your clothes and things like that. It’s a bit better today but I think for safety’s sake it was the right decision. Hopefully Mother Nature will accept that and hopefully we’ll be able to enjoy the rest of the weekend. It’s disappointing but I think it’s absolutely the right decision.”

Purebred West Point, in partnership with Dream With Me Stables, has Parnac entered the fifth race on Thursday – an allowance race for fat girls and mares in the courtyard. Like all horse advocates, Bellhouse has handled cancellations before but he can’t recall a situation like this.

“This is unique to us here on the East Coast. I know they’ve dealt with fires and things on the West Coast but in all the years I’ve watched the races, I don’t think we have the substance. air quality used to be a problem in the East—just in life in general as well as racing. But we’ll move on.”

Speaking from his Belmont Park warehouse on Thursday morning, before Thursday’s race was canceled, Hall of Fame coach Todd Pletcher wore the mask recommended by health officials.

“I haven’t seen any impact on the horses yet,” he said. “Everybody feels fine. All temperatures are normal today. No cough or anything like that you have to keep an eye on.

“You want to keep them in their routine. You want them to exercise every day, but that’s a very unusual case.”

Some riders let hot hikers lead their horses in their stables, while others, such as Christophe Clement, let the horses run around outside his stables.

Pletcher said he doubts canceling training sessions due to air quality will affect them from a fitness perspective, “but mentally, you want to keep them in a normal routine.”

Coach Chad Brown also wore a mask on Thursday morning, saying he did so as a safety precaution. He said he has masks available for his staff if they want to wear them.

He said he felt the atmosphere on Thursday was better than the day before. By mid-afternoon Wednesday, the sky had turned orange-yellow due to a combination of smoke and sun.

“The horses, we don’t have many options for them, do we? They can’t wear masks. We can’t close the barn doors anymore,” he said. “As long as you evacuate several thousand horses from the area, you don’t have any options, so it’s not worth spending too much time pondering.”

He said he’s been getting calls all morning from owners asking if the track is racing.

The NYRA wrote in its release that the race is scheduled to resume June 9 at Belmont Park with an 11-race card, consisting of five graded bets marked by a trio of classes. 1. The $1.5 million Belmont Stakes (G1) 155th run is scheduled for June 10, along with eight other classified shares.

-This story will be updated.


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