Belmont Stakes: A+ for racing, but customer service fails

Photo credit NYRA/Adam Coglianese

Photo credit NYRA/Adam Coglianese

California Chrome didn’t win the Triple Crown, but within hours of his failed bid to make racing history, the New York Racing Association was nonetheless declaring Belmont Stakes day a success, pointing to high attendance and record-setting handle numbers.

Official attendance was 102,199, lower than the announced (and oft-questioned) attendance of 120,139 in 2004, Smarty Jones’ Triple Crown bid, but the third highest on record.  On-track handle (money wagered) was $19,105,877; all-sources handle (money wagered on the races on- and off-site) was $150,249,399. Those numbers are up 23% and17% respectively from the previous records, both set in 2004.

NYRA president and CEO Chris Kay and senior vice president of racing operations Martin Panza re-envisioned the day of the Belmont Stakes this year, shifting major stakes races like the Metropolitan Handicap from other summer weekends to the day of the Belmont, in attempt to “build a day that is comparable to the Breeders’ Cup,” said Kay in February.  He also said that the goal was to “introduce the casual fan to all that is great about  horse racing.”

Continue reading at


2 thoughts on “Belmont Stakes: A+ for racing, but customer service fails

  1. Also posted this to the Forbes article (using my Facebook name, Walt Gekko) and other places:

    Here’s what I would have done if I were at NYRA this past Saturday:

    1. Kept Belmont Park open until AT LEAST Midnight with full card simulcasting starting at 7:15 PM AND had Game 2 of Rangers-Kings on monitors throughout the track AND on the giant screens in the infield with the NBC Sports coverage on the PA system. If the game were still going at 11:35 PM (which it was), Belmont Park would remain open until 25 minutes after the game concluded (in this case with Rangers-Kings having gone to a second over time, approximately 12:15 AM).

    2. Worked with the LIRR to have service run from Belmont Park beginning at 7:10 PM (with a handful of trains ahead of that for people wanting to leave early) and continuing until at least 11:45 PM. If the Rangers-Kings game was still going at 11:10 PM, that would have continued until at least 35 minutes following the conclusion of the game (or with Rangers-Kings going to a second overtime approximately 12:30 AM).

    This would NOT ONLY have smoothed out people leaving Belmont Park as some would stay and get dinner before heading back (and I would have also had severely discounted food and NON-ALCOHOLIC beverages available starting at 7:45 PM after the 12th Race to encourage people not to leave all at once), but knowing the game would be available all the way through after The Belmont Stakes (something I would have made clear in all advertising), NYRA would likely have picked up a large chunk of the 10-15,000 or so who were “on the fence” about going to Belmont Park, but ultimately didn’t because they didn’t want to miss ANY of Rangers-Kings.

    In addition, I would have worked with the LIRR to allow people to use tickets for Belmont Park on ANY train stopping at Queens Village, Bellerose or Floral Park Stations going towards Manhattan following The Belmont Stakes and advised people to please walk to those stations if possible. In addition, I would have asked the LIRR to if possible had trains that operate on the Port Jefferson Branch if possible stop at ANY of those stations to pick up people coming from Belmont Park as well (and again, honoring all Belmont Park tickets).

    That’s how I would have handled Belmont Stakes day.

    • Adding to what I wrote earlier:

      As for why NYRA was racing this past Sunday (as you mentioned Sunday racing in the Forbes article), I don’t believe that was even supposed to be a racing day originally. That day I think was forced on NYRA, as I read to make up one of the days that was lost in January at Aqueduct when all the bad weather hit, but also I would think elected officials who serve primarily Jewish communities would have been pressuring NYRA to run on Sunday anyway because their constituents can’t go on Saturday due to the Sabbath and Sunday is the only day they can go.

      I actually did a post a couple of weeks ago on the board I run asking if it was time for The Belmont Stakes to be moved from Saturday to Sunday. I think it may actually be time to do that on four counts:

      1. It would take pressure off NBC that Saturday as that morning is normally the Women’s final of the French Open that NBC is contractually committed to carry, meaning network affiliates have to scramble to find places to air children’s programming that normally airs then.

      2. NYRA can expand Belmont Stakes Day into Belmont Stakes weekend. Saturday can be for the ladies like Friday is at Churchill and Pimlico, with the Coaching Club American Oaks, returned to Belmont Park and its old 1 1/2 Mile distance for the same $1.5 Million the boys race for headlining a Saturday card that also features the Just A Game and Odgen Phipps plus perhaps the Sheepshead Bay (as I would do it, the Acorn would move to Gotham Day in March as the first Grade 1 of the year in New York and The Mother Goose to the Wood Memorial Day card in April, with the Gazelle shifted back to its former spot at the start of the fall meet at Belmont).

      3. Those who observe the Jewish Sabbath would be able for the first time to see a Triple Crown race live with a Sunday Belmont.

      4. NYRA would not be under pressure to race the next day because Monday is a normal dark day.

      That’s why I think its time for a Sunday Belmont.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s