Changes afoot for Belmont Stakes ticketing?

It’s another family tradition. My brother started it in the 80’s; I joined in 2004.

That was my first Belmont Stakes. Smarty Jones’s—er, Birdstone’s—Belmont. Though my interest in racing rejuvenated in 2000, I didn’t follow it with the alacrity that I do now, and foolishly, I just never thought about going to the Belmont.

But that year, my brother called to say that one of his crew had defected, and he had an extra ticket, and did I want to go? Um, Triple Crown on the line, let me think about it, ok, YES!

And thus a tradition was born.

In about February of each year, my brother sends out the e-mail: “Who’s in?” We respond, he fills out the form and faxes it in, we wait patiently, and in most cases, learn with delight of our seats for that year. Oh yeah, and he usually gives me mine for my birthday. It’s virtually flawless, putting aside the occasional trepidation about where our seats will be, especially in the Triple Crown years.

But perhaps, that is all about to change.

In the last week, I’ve heard from three sources, including one who works at NYRA, that next year, the current Belmont Stakes ticket system will be discontinued and Ticketmaster will handle the sales. The person with whom I spoke today told me that NYRA is “considering” this change in the hope that things will go “more smoothly” (for whom? what’s not smooth now?). According to her, average fans will have no less of a chance of getting seats than they do now. She stressed that nothing is confirmed at this point, and I’ve contacted NYRA to see if I can get any more information, specifically about how it thinks that this new system will benefit both fans and the track.

I must say that my knee-jerk reaction to this is not good. My $60 seats will now go for closer to $80, if past examples of service charges are any indication, and I’ve loved that one can call the NYRA office and speak to a human about the seats, as I did on Tuesday. The person at NYRA with whom I spoke, like pretty much everyone I’ve ever contacted there, was friendly and helpful, and whenever we have called regarding our seats, the NYRA folks have been responsive, helping as much as they can. I can’t imagine that Ticketmaster will be so accommodating, and I am dismayed to think that a rapacious corporate behemoth will now have my Belmont Stakes fate in its hands.

Stay tuned…

7 thoughts on “Changes afoot for Belmont Stakes ticketing?

  1. I just noticed that NYRA cashed my check the other week, so I’m guessing I got the seats I put as my first choice…while the lottery is a little iffy, at least we get the jump on those who decide to go that week when there’s definitely a Triple Crown on the line. I will not be happy about paying Ticketmaster’s ‘service charge’ if indeed it comes to that. Even Tickets.com is a little better to deal with.

  2. If it’s anything like the Saratoga lottery they cash your check and then refund the difference if you don’t get your first choice.The Saratoga process is my pet peeve. The lottery is OK, but many people are grandfathered into an “Advanced Reservation Program” (season tickets). Although I buy tickets for every day of the meet, I can’t break into this lucky club. There is no wait list.They also reserve some preferred seats for NYRA Rewards whales, which I guess is understandable but still irritating.So after all these “preffered” customers are accomodated, even the lucky lottery “winners” end up in sections L,M,N, or worse…

  3. At least you’re not trying to get Derby tickets and have to mortgage your house to afford one unless you want to go the infield/general admission route at $40 and never see a horse. YIPPEE!I know this is off topic, more like yesterday, but…it looks like the jinx may have just worked. The prelim list is up with the leaders, Kevin and Lisa are listed but I’m nowhere to be found! Guess that’s what happens when you have only 1 horse running and 6 horses running this week in the BG! Problem is I also have 2 running in the AR Derby so which 5 do I activate for my RttR and which 3 do I deactivate!!! Oh decisions, decisions. Now mark my words, I’ll deactivate the 2 winners and a place!

  4. Trip: Hmmm…you may have dropped, as Take Ten usually posts the standings in sections, and they do go top to bottom…which is why it’s usually Friday before I find out where I am.If that’s the case and you’ve relinquished the lead…apologies!

  5. I don’t like this either. Very bad news for a friend of mine, who books a block of 150 seats together and then throws a free breakfast party near Penn Station and then one in the evening in the city (with donations to the Exceller Fund) I doubt he’ll be able to book 150 with Ticketmaster!This doesn’t bug me so much as the Breeders’ Cup changes over the last year or two. At least with NYRA the public always have the chance to scrutinize Hayward when he’s on the panel at the Racing Museum preview for the Saratoga season. No question, about NYRA, is off-limits. As for Breeders’ Cup Ltd…

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