NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Belmont Stakes will take place with certain adjustments amid the coronavirus pandemic.
There won’t be any fans in attendance when it takes place June 20, two weeks later than normal, and it will be the first leg of the Triple Crown instead of the last.
The horses will also run a mile and an eighth instead of the traditional “Test of the Champion” mile and a half.
But the race will be run and that’s a great thing for New York and the horse-racing industry.
U.S. Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who has trained Triple Crown winners American Pharaoh and Justify, says he’s just happy there’s a plan in place.
“Just to know that now racing is going to be up and going, the excitement of it all. Belmont, it’s strange that it’s being run, you know, the first leg and it’s not going to be the traditional way they lay it out, but it’s still going to be an exciting race,” Baffert told CBS2’s Otis Livingston.
Horse racing is the latest sport to make its return, following in the footsteps of golf and NASCAR.
“[Sports] play such a big part in our lives and that’s how we get away from the regular hard grind that we all go through, and sports, it’s, on the weekends or whatever, you get to just shut your world off and go enjoy something else. It’s entertainment, and I think we all need it,” Baffert said.
Baffert is expected to bring two undefeated Arkansas Derby winners, Charlatan and Nadal, to the Belmont Stakes.
The Kentucky Derby will take place Sept. 5 and the Preakness Stakes on Oct. 3.