Belmont Attracts Smallest Crowd Since 1996

(from New York Racing Association release)
The smallest crowd for the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) since 1996, 62,274, turned out on a hot and humid afternoon at the Elmont, N.Y., track to see Afleet Alex dominate the 137th running of the 3-year-old classic by seven lengths Saturday.

Belmont attendance failed to crack the 100,000 mark for the first time in four years. A Triple Crown was on the line at the last three Belmonts.

The crowd of 120,139 last year for Smarty Jones' failed Triple Crown bid was a New York racing record.

``We were very fortunate to have a Triple Crown the last three years,'' said Bill Nader, New York Racing Association senior vice president. ``It's hard to say we are disappointed. We put on the best card we could and were lucky to have the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner in the Belmont for the final chapter.''

Editor's Note won the Belmont before a gathering of 40,797 in 1996. Before Saturday, six of the last eight Belmont Stakes have enjoyed the box office advantage of a Triple Crown hopeful.

Wagering, however, was a record for a non-Triple Crown running of the Belmont. The race generated all-sources handle of $47,980,531. Overall handle on the entire 13-race presentation was $87,542,041, also a new non-Triple Crown record for a Belmont Stakes day and the fourth highest in history.

The day also generated a new record for Pick 4 wagering in New York with $1,846,220 on a pool that featured a $1 million guarantee. The Pick 4 returned $490 for every $2 winning wager in four premiere races.

On track wagering for the day was $9,463,840, the second highest in history when there was no Triple Crown opportunity on Belmont Stakes day.