Tag Archives: Belmont Park

American Pharoah wins Triple Crown in Belmont Stakes


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo via Twitter/@NYRA

After 37 years of waiting, it took a Pharoah to grab the Triple Crown.

With 90,000 on hand at Belmont Park, American Pharoah secured his place in racing history, capturing the Belmont Stakes and becoming the 12th horse to sweep the Triple Crown.

Fans from across the country gathered at Belmont Park roared as American Pharoah crossed the wire and rode off into the history books, etching his name with the likes of Citation, Secretariat and the previous Triple Crown champion, Affirmed.

American Pharoah took the lead the moment the gates opened and never looked back. He set moderate fractions as he looped his way around the 1 ½-mile Belmont oval, then kicked away from the rest of the field at the top of the stretch.

As Pharoah’s lead grew to 5 ½ lengths, the crowd in unison cheered loud enough to drown out track announcer Larry Collmus’ call and any other noise that could possibly be made. Once Pharoah crossed the finish line first, many in the crowd hugged and high-fived each other in celebration of the first Triple Crown winner since 1978.

“This is for the sport after 37 years,” Ahmed Zayat, American Pharoah’s owner, said as he hoisted the triangular Triple Crown trophy later in the Belmont winner circle.

The victory also was vindication for trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Victor Espinoza, who each brought other horses to Belmont Park over the last 18 years with a chance to win the Triple Crown, only to fail.

“Down the backside, he was in his groove, and I knew that if he’s a great horse, he’s going to do it,” Baffert said in a post-race interview on NBC. “I just feel like I have a very special horse and he’s the one that won.”

“I was coming to this race with so much confidence the last two times,” Espinoza said. “He broke a little step slowly, but in two jumps, I was right on the lead. That’s right where I want to be … I tell you, I had the best feeling ever when he crossed the first turn.”

American Pharoah, the 3-5 favorite, finished ahead of Frosted and Keen Ice, respectively. The final time for the 1 ½-mile classic, 2:26.65, was the sixth-fastest in Belmont Stakes history.

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American Pharoah goes for the Triple Crown at Belmont Park tomorrow


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy New York Racing Association/Adam Coglianese

Having won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, American Pharoah already proved himself a champion thoroughbred; the only question left is whether he is a racing legend.

It will be answered tomorrow at Belmont Park, when American Pharoah goes to the post in the Belmont Stakes as the 14th horse since 1979 with a chance to sweep all three legs of the Triple Crown.

American Pharoah comes to Belmont on a six-race winning streak and off a Preakness win in which he went wire-to-wire amid a torrential rainstorm. Standing between him and the Triple Crown is a trip around the daunting 12-furlong circuit of Belmont’s main track and seven challengers, each of whom did not race in both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.

Pharoah’s jockey and trainer have been in this spot before: Victor Espinoza and Bob Baffert brought War Emblem to Belmont in 2012 with a chance at a Triple Crown, only to see the colt stumble badly out of the gate and finish eighth. Last year, Espinoza rode California Chrome to a Triple Crown bid, but the colt finished fourth in the Belmont. Baffert came up short in two previous Triple Crown chances with Silver Charm in 1997 and Real Quiet in 1998 — the latter of which lost the Belmont by a nose.

As with any Triple Crown berth, a huge crowd is expected at Belmont Park on June 6. The New York Racing Association (NYRA) capped the maximum attendance at 90,000; last year’s Belmont Stakes drew over 100,000 but the cap aims to make patrons more comfortable and reduce overcrowding issues.

No general admission tickets will be sold at the gate tomorrow; all tickets must be purchased in advance online.

Last year’s event also ended on a sour note off-track due to problems with departing trains at the Belmont Park Long Island Rail Road station that left some patrons waiting hours after the final race to leave. The LIRR and NYRA spent $5 million to build two new concrete platforms and make other improvements to the station to better accommodate the thousands expected to travel to and from Belmont by rail Saturday.

Additionally, the NYRA scheduled a post-race Goo Goo Dolls concert to ease the crowd’s departure and reduce train and road congestion.

The $1.5 million Belmont Stakes highlights a championship 13-race card that includes nine other stakes races including the $1.25 million Metropolitan Mile for older horses, the $1 million Manhattan Stakes for older turf horses and the $1 million Ogden Phipps Handicap for older fillies and mares. The first post is 11:30 a.m.; the Belmont Stakes will go off at 6:52 p.m.

The Belmont Stakes field. Graphic courtesy NYRA.com

The Belmont Stakes field. (Graphic courtesy NYRA.com)

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Queens Village shopping mall selling for nearly $11M  


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Massey Knakal 

The Village Plaza Shopping Center is selling for $10.9 million, according to Massey Knakal Realty Services, which is marketing the sale.

The center, located at 218-24 Hempstead Ave. in Queens Village not far from Belmont Park, was built in 2006 and is owned by Village Plaza LLC, according to city records.

It has nearly 39,000 square feet in six attached two-story buildings. The plaza also has 26 retail and office units and is currently 75 percent filled with tenants such as a 99-cents store and a Little Caesars pizza chain shop.

There are 25 parking spaces directly in front of the shopping center as well.

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Pols raise concerns over planned Cosmos soccer stadium near Queens border


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Renderings courtesy of the New York Cosmos

Some politicians feel the New York Cosmos need to do everything they can to win the community.

The soccer club, which restarted recently after not playing a game in nearly three decades, is planning to construct a 25,000 seat stadium in Elmont’s Belmont Park near the Queens and Nassau border. The team currently plays at Hofstra University’s Shuart Stadium in Long Island.

The project has come under direct fire by Carrié Solages, a legislator in Nassau County, while on the Queens side Councilmember Leroy Comrie has brought up potential community concerns, such as increased traffic, noise and lights.

“It’s a residential community and you can understand that people want to keep it that way,” Comrie said.

The team has started to give back to the community through various partnerships, including the American Cancer Society, Long Island City YMCA and New York Hospital Queens.

The Cosmos began hosting a series of “Back to School” soccer clinics around New York for children between the ages of seven and 14. There will be four clinics around the city and Long Island this month. Cosmos players and coaches will interact directly with children at the clinics to teach them the fundamentals.

“As a native New Yorker, being able to play for the Cosmos is a dream come true, and it’s made even more special when we get to go into the community and work directly with the next generation of American soccer stars,” said Carlos Mendes, Cosmos defender and team captain.

Comrie is not against the stadium as he was with Major League Soccer (MLS) trying to put a similar-sized venue in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park for the New York City Football Club because that project called for taking land from the park. But he thinks Belmont could be a “suitable” location for a soccer stadium.

The councilmember will gauge concerns from the community through future meetings.

The Cosmos’ plan for the stadium is still in the early stages as they have only made a proposal for the land and early renderings. A team representative said the organization is willing to work with the community to address any future concerns that they may have.

“The New York Cosmos have a strong belief in social responsibility and the desire to make a positive impact,” a representative said. “We feel that we have an obligation to be a leader in the community and we’ve shown that through our actions.”

 

Additional reporting by Carlos Montanez 

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Resorts World New York will enhance New York’s thoroughbred racing and breeding stature


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

New York State Racing and Wagering Board Chair John Sabini

By John Sabini

New York’s storied history of horse racing is unparalleled anywhere in the world, and with the opening of Genting’s Resorts World New York at Aqueduct, we’re already seeing an enhancement of our state’s leading position.

Revenue generated at Resorts World New York is expected to drive hundreds of millions of dollars into our education coffers. Additionally, a small but vital portion of the money wagered at the Video Lottery Terminals is designated for New York’s equine industry.

A snapshot of the potential: In Fiscal Year 2010-2011, revenue generated from New York’s video gaming – which did not include Resorts World New York – totaled $547 million for education and $111 million for racing purses and breeders fund contributions. The largest contributing facility was Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway, which was responsible for $318 million of the education revenue. Some have estimated Resorts World New York’s education contribution could top $400 million next year.

From increased purse money to guarantee the best horses race in New York, to money to improve living conditions for the often-forgotten backstretch personnel and their families, to incentives for local breeders; there are benefits to all 62 Empire State counties.

Just 11 months ago, things looked bleak for New York’s racing industry. When New York City Off Track Betting (NYCOTB) closed, it meant an immediate 45 percent drop in annual handle for The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA), our franchise partner at Aqueduct, Belmont Park and Saratoga Race Course. Additionally, the New York State Thoroughbred Breeding and Development Fund (NYSTBDF) lost a third of its funding stream. This sent shockwaves throughout the industry.

Through a few regulatory changes, we were able to ease the blow for everyone, but the real tonic will be the cash flow from Resorts World New York. NYRA has already upped its purse schedule for the Aqueduct winter meet and the NYSTBDF has increased breeders and stallion awards based on projections for the new Aqueduct facility. Those projections, at this point, frankly look conservative.

Horse racing is a business and the stakeholders are taking notice. Queens businessman Mike Repole took three horses to this year’s Breeders’ Cup, and he keeps his ponies here in New York. Vinery Stables, one of the world’s top breeding operations, has opened an outpost in upstate New York and the top stallions of Frank Stronach have been sent to stand in the state. Another positive development: there was a double-digit increase in the sale of New York-bred yearlings at this year’s Fasig-Tipton sale at Saratoga. One might say the industry is voting with its hooves, and moving toward the Empire State.

The benefits extend beyond racing and breeding. Viable farms means greenspace preservation. Higher purses mean strong tourism for Saratoga and the Capital Region. The infusion of revenue from Resorts World New York will magnify our reputation as a racing capital, keep jobs in economically-challenged upstate and subsidize education for decades to come.

Right now, New York’s equine industry, from farmhands to mutual clerks, is responsible for 40,000 jobs and $2.4 billion in economic activity. With Resorts World New York now finally in the game, the coming years should be even better.

While crowds at Aqueduct haven’t been like this for decades, the splash in South Ozone Park has sent positive ripples throughout New York state.

John D. Sabini Chairs the New York State Racing and Wagering Board and the state’s Thoroughbred Breeding and Development Fund. A Queens resident, he represented Jackson Heights and surrounding areas for 16 years as a legislator.