They all returned to their regular places on the calendar this year with a limited number of fans. The announced crowd for the Kentucky derby on May 1 was 51,838, close to a third of the usual capacity of the space, but at that time the biggest crowd at a sporting event since the beginning of the pandemic. The number of attendees at Preakness on May 15 was 10,000. That’s just under 10 percent of the track’s usual capacity.
When tickets went on sale for Belmont in May, attendance was limited to 11,000 fans based on New York State guidelines that outdoor sports and entertainment facilities operate at 33 percent capacity, with all spectators submitting evidence of vaccination or a negative coronavirus test result. .
Since then, those guidelines have been relaxed and organizers have issued some more tickets, but they are still expecting about 11,000 people. (Belmont’s attendance record of 120,139 was set in 2004, when Birdstone refused the Smarty Jones triple crown.) Proof of vaccination or a negative test is no longer required, and masks are mandatory only for unvaccinated guests. There are no general tickets, and socially remote places are limited to reserved places and catering facilities (some parts are only for vaccinated people). Belmont’s backyard picnic area – usually covered with blankets and camping chairs – will instead be filled with picnic tables that were sold in groups of six for more than $ 100.
In 2020, Tiz the Law became the first horse bred in New York to win the Belmont Stakes in 138 years, but it did so at a shorter distance, not a punishing mile and a half that inspired the race’s nickname, the Champion Test. He finished second in the Derby, ending his modified hopes in the Triple Crown.
The Derby favorite is the favorite again.
Rombauer beat Midnight Bourbon by three and a half lengths in Preakness, but is not the favorite of the morning line at Belmont. That difference goes to Essential Quality, Derby’s favorite who ran into the gate, ran both turns and finished quickly closing fourth for his first defeat in six starts.
Essential Quality is owned by the company the controversial ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, he has tactical speed and should have no problem with a mile and a half because his father, Tapit, has spawned three Belmont winners. Rombauer, who did not race in the Derby, raises veteran New York jockey John Velazquez, who won his fourth derby aboard the Medina Spirit.