Barbecuin’ at Belmont

1:15 pm, Saturday, May 3rd. I am missing Aqueduct terribly.

Instead of zipping from my neighborhood to the Big A in thirty minutes on the A train, I am motionless on the BQE, as I have been for the previous twenty minutes. Road work. Two lanes closed. “It’s a mess!” the traffic guy on the radio cries gleefully.

My kingdom for a subway.

At the end of a 90-minute journey that generally takes a third of that time, I arrive at bucolic Belmont for the first Saturday of the spring/summer meet. It is all so green and lush, so expansive; and people are scattered everywhere: near the paddock, in the backyard, on the apron. Road rage begins to ebb.

From above, I look down the awesome vista of the Belmont stretch, and see…white picket fences?

I crane my neck for a better view. Yes, there at the top of the stretch, where the round tables with umbrellas used to be, are what appear to be little paddocks for humans, surrounded by white picket fences.

Intrepid race track troubadour Ernie Munick and I venture down the stretch. We see—smoke? And smell—burgers?

Yes, my friends, they’re barbecuin’ at Belmont.

We do more than look and smell; we ask questions. “$8 a person,” we are told. No matter how many people? “No matter how many people.” Can we take your picture?

Looking slightly uneasily at two random people bearing cameras and asking questions, they tell us (reluctantly?), “OK.”

Ernie asks if he can buy a burger for $5. Now they really think we’re crazy. We keep talking. He’s a proud Wings fan, hailing from Windsor, Ontario; his Wings (on the ice, not on the barbecue) are up 1 – 0. (Now, they are down 2 – 1.) Ernie asks again, “Can I buy a burger?”

The Motor City Grillmaster says, “Let me ask my buddy—they’re his.”

The Buddy comes over, takes one look, and says, “Hey! You’re the guitar trivia guy who plays in the backyard!” Ernie is famous, and I feel like a groupie.

Now, the burgers are not only on offer; they’re on the house.

And mighty tasty they are, too.

They’ve got about half a dozen people in there, snacks, sausages, condiments, coolers, beer. They’re watching the toteboard and the infield screen, and the horses flying by as they come off the turn.

They’re in their own little white picket fence human paddock, and for $8 a person, it’s a bargain.

I just figured out where I’m having my birthday party.

9 thoughts on “Barbecuin’ at Belmont

  1. Let me get this straight … Belmont is selling ‘reserved seating’ on the lawn for $8 per person? Does that include the barbecue grill and mutuel clerk and beerman and baño? Maybe that’s a bargain for outside space in NY, but seems a little pricey to me.

  2. Stuck on the BQE, then stuck with the BQE (Barbecuin’ Ernie).Beqween you and me, both had to be a-go-ny.I always knew I’d have my own white picket fence. Now all I’ll need there is my hound and paradise…found!Twilight Tim’s Burger Beyer, 106

  3. I know the spot you are talking about and I had my Birthday party there in 2007. In fact it fell on Memorial Day that year, which means it was Met Mile Day. That’s a great place to watch the races from as you really get a sense of what that big sweeping turn is all about at Big Sandy. And it was sweet to see Kent Desormeaux cut the corner up close and drive Corinthian home in that wonderful G1 event.

  4. so what do you get for 8 bucks? just the use of the space? is there a minimum or maximum number of people?

  5. I didn’t get any official info–my understanding is that for $8/person, you get your own little fenced in area (there are a number of them) and the grill. Not sure what, if anything, else it includes, or the minimum/maximum number of people. I’ll find out this weekend. E: BQE with you–anytime! BrooklynSaint: I was there that day, too, down near the finish line. I brought a friend to the track for the first time, she hunch bets three horses in the Met Mile, and cleans up with a $300+ exacta, if I remember correctly

  6. I am considering having a throw down there towards the end of May but I am not sure if it is worth it. How do they know who paid $8 or not?

  7. A couple of official answers to some of the questions posed in comments. – The minimum number of people to reserve a table in a section is 8, but without reserving the entire section you would likely be mixed in with other groups.- To reserve an entire section privately, you’d need a minimum of 48 (sections are designed to hold 48, but can be expanded to accommodate groups up to 250, which is the absolute maximum). – You can bring your food in, or have it catered by the NYRA caterer. – The cost without catering is $8/person, which gets you grandstand admission, a program, and your table or section for the day.- The cost to have the event catered is $25/person including grandstand admission, program, food, tax and gratuity. – Absolutely no glass bottles or kegs.- There are umbrella-covered tables and two grills per section. We recommend you bring your own grilling equipment, charcoal etc.This isn’t exhaustive, but hopefully it clarifies some of the questions. NYRA Group Sales handles reservations for this area and can be reached at: 888-285-5961 or http://nyragroupsales.com/belmont.aspCall or email them for reservations and more information.

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