The 2022 Belmont Stakes will see its crowd capped at 50,000, but for the first time in three years, the reason won’t have anything to do with COVID. Instead, the crowd capacity is limited due to reduced space at the venue after the construction of UBS Arena nearby.

According to Daily Racing Forum, crowds at the third Triple Crown race have exceeded 50,000 in the majority of the runnings that took place between 1985 and 2019. No fans were allowed in 2020 due to the pandemic, while attendance was capped at 11,000 for the 2021 edition. Prior to that, the last time the crowd came in at below 50,000 was back in 2013 when 47,567 attended.

Tickets for the 2022 Belmont Stakes will go on sale this week, available to the public on Thursday, February 10 at 10 a.m. Presale ticket purchasing opportunities have been open since Tuesday, when groups eligible for purchase included NYRE Bets members, past ticket purchasers, and other groups.

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“The Belmont Stakes Racing Festival is a celebration of the best of thoroughbred racing, and we look forward to the return of fans in large numbers following last year’s considerable restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said NYRA President & CEO Dave O’Rourke. “As the Belmont Park property continues to transition and evolve, NYRA is committed to providing our loyal fans with the best possible experience now and in the future. The updated capacity will accomplish this goal while ensuring that fans are treated to an incredibly exciting three days of world class racing and entertainment.”

Capacity is expected to increase for the 2024 running of the race, when ongoing improvements to the grounds will allow for the infield area to be accessible to spectators. The all-time record for attendance at the Belmont Stakes is 120,139, when Smarty Jones saw its hopes for a Triple Crown dashed with Birdstone’s victory in the race after it had captured the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes titles. The third leg of the Triple Crown has tended to draw closer to 90,000 fans, but that figure is highly variable depending on whether or not there is a chance for the completion of the crown at play when the horses make their way to New York.

The Belmont Stakes, which awards a $1.5 million purse to the winner, is the capstone of the 3-day Belmont Stakes Racing Festival. The event will feature 17 stakes races over its three days including eight Grade 1 races on June 11.

Photo: American Pharoah races in the 2015 Belmont Stakes – credit Mike Lizzi via Wikimedia Commons

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