Schwartz Hopeful for Record Belmont Crowd

Schwartz Hopeful for Record Belmont Crowd
Photo: Mike Corrado
Lured by perfect weather and a Triple Crown bid, fans crowded into Belmont Park on Saturday.
New York Racing Association chairman and CEO Barry Schwartz said Saturday morning at Belmont Park that he is hoping for one thing -- a crowd of more than 85,818. All indications are he might just get it.

Schwartz knew the exact number of patrons who passed through the turnstiles in 1999 when Charismatic was going for the Triple Crown. "I'm hoping for a record, more than 85,818," Schwartz said. "I'm hoping for 90,000."

Schwartz, speaking shortly before noon, said security officers had informed him the Belmont parking lots were filling up 90 minutes ahead of schedule. "That's good," he said. "That way we can keep bringing them in."

After the lots fill, Belmont has other lots identified -- shopping malls, high schools, etc. -- where racegoers can park and ride a shuttle to the track.

One thing Schwartz and NYRA got was beautiful weather. There is not a cloud in the sky over Long Island and the temperature is to top out in the low 70s.

At approximately 6:10 p.m., War Emblem will attempt to become racing's 12th Triple Crown winner. The winner of the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and Preakness Stakes (gr. I) is owned by Prince Ahmed Salman's Thoroughbred Corp., trained by Bob Baffert and ridden by Victor Espinoza. He will face 10 challengers after the scratch of Puzzlement.

Baffert has twice before come to Belmont with a chance at the Triple Crown. He finished second in New York both times, with Silver Charm in 1997 and Real Quiet in 1998.

In the early wagering at Belmont, War Emblem is even money to win the Triple Crown.

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