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'New York, New York' to Greet Belmont Horses

The Jay-Z/Alicia Keys rendition of "Empire State of Mind; was played in 2011

As the field for the 143rd running of the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Stakes (gr. I) makes its way onto the track for the post parade at Belmont Park, the horses will be accompanied by Frank Sinatra’s timeless recording of “New York, New York.”

Composed by John Kander, with lyrics by Fred Ebb, it is the theme song from the 1977 Martin Scorsese film “New York, New York.”

The song did not become a popular hit until it was sung in concert by Sinatra in October, 1978. Sinatra then recorded it for his album “Trilogy: Past Present Future,” and it has been associated with him ever since. In 2010,  the Jay-Z/Alicia Keys rendition of  “Empire State of Mind" was performed at the Belmont Stakes and prior to 1997, “Sidewalks of New York” was performed.

An audio of the son and lyrics can be found at the Belmont Stakes website.

In addition to “New York, New York,” Belmont Stakes Day will also feature NYRA controller Jelena Alonso singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” and Sam Grossman, aka Sam the Bugler, performing “God Bless America.”

Alonso will perform the National Anthem before the first race, scheduled for an 11:35 a.m. post. She has performed in theaters across the United States and Europe in musicals including “West Side Story”, “Evita”, “Fiddler on the Roof”, and “Phantom of the Opera”. Alonso has also been singing the national anthem for the New York Islanders on Long Island since 1993.

Sam the Bugler will perform “God Bless America” at approximately 2 p.m. He has been NYRA’s bugler for 19 years, performing the “Call to the Post” before every race. He has also been the official bugler at the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) for the past four years.

The change comes a year after NYRA replaced Sinatra’s tune with the

No reason was given for the return to “New York, New York,” which had greeted the post parade of horses from 1997-2009.

“Sidewalks of New York” was performed before the Belmont until Sinatra took charge in ‘97.