by Sean Burns | Find Belmont Stakes Tickets on TicketClub
The third in the annual trifecta of nationally-known thoroughbred horse racing events in the United States, the Belmont Stakes is coming up this weekend in New York. But if past history is any indication, the lack of a potential Triple Crown winner in the race could mean a very soft market for both regular ticket sales and the secondary market.
For those not in the know on the ponies, the Triple Crown is obtained when one horse wins each of the three marquee events run in the spring for three year olds. The Kentucky Derby is a 1 ¼ mile event on dirt at Churchill Downs, followed by the Preakness Stakes over 1 3/16 miles at Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course. The Belmont Stakes is the last and the longest, covering 1 ½ miles at Belmont Park, just east of Queens in Long Island’s Nassau County.
In 2017, Always Dreaming took the first leg, but faded down the stretch in Baltimore, as Cloud Computing captured the second jewel and left the Belmont without what the numbers say is a huge part of its value.
Over the previous six years, there have been three where the Belmont featured a horse starting the day with Triple Crown hopes, and three without. The differences in the market are staggering.
In 2012*, ’14 and ’15 – years with a potential winner, sales on the Ticket Network Exchange were 375% stronger by volume, with a $78 bump in the average price of each ticket sold compared to 2011, ’13 and ’16. In fact, the combined transactions, individual tickets sold, and total sales value of the non-Triple Crown Years fails to match any one of the Triple Crown years’ individually. Essentially, anyone holding on to tickets they hoped to make a premium on for 2017’s Belmont had just as rough of a day as Always Dreaming did on May 20th, finishing eighth in the ten-horse field while Cloud Computing, who hadn’t raced in the Derby, surged to victory.
Compounding the issue is the fact that neither Always Dreaming nor Cloud Computing are entered in the field for Saturday’s race in New York.
According to a post on Horseracingnation.com, overall attendance at Belmont Park swings heavily on Triple Crown potential. The 2012 race saw over 85,000 attend, even with the late scratch – compared to 45K in 2010 and 56K in 2011. With no Triple Crown hope, 2013 saw a drop of more than 38,000 fans from 2012. Attendance reached triple digits in 2014, as California Chrome’s ill-fated quest for the crown drew 102,199, the first time since 2002-2004 – each year featuring a potential crown winner – all drew over 100,000.
Attendance was capped at 90,000 in 2015, but could have been much more (presumably), since those fans got to watch American Pharoah take the Belmont and the Triple Crown, the first such victory since Affirmed won all three in 1978.
For hard-boiled racing fans, there’s no doubt that the Belmont will always hold a certain cachet – a chance to see most of the best three-year-olds running over a longer distance – regardless if one has the hope of the crown or not. But for the casual fan, the Triple Crown is most of what they’re in the market to see, and Ticket Network’s numbers back this fact up.
*In 2012, Derby and Preakness winner I’ll Have Another was scratched a day before the race, but we include that race among the Triple Crown potential market because that only changed after a majority of tickets were already sold