By Joe Pantorno
The New York Racing Association announced on Tuesday morning that the 152nd Belmont Stakes will be held on June 20 as the first leg of the Triple Crown.
It will be the first time ever in the race’s history that it is the opening event of the famed three-race circuit. The Kentucky Derby, normally the first of the trio, was moved from early-May to Sept. 5. The Preakness, usually No. 2, will be held from Maryland on Oct. 2.
Changes surrounding the race don’t stop there, though.
The normally 1.5-mile race has been reduced to 1 1/8 miles while the purse has been decreased from $1.5 million last year to $1 million in 2020, which is believed to be a byproduct of the financial losses experienced throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
To keep up with proper health and safety measures implemented in New York to combat the spread of the coronavirus, the Belmont Stakes will be run without fans in attendance. Those who already purchased tickets are subject to a full refund.
“The Belmont Stakes is a New York institution that will provide world-class entertainment for sports fans during these challenging times,” NYRA president and CEO Dave O’Rourke said. “While this will certainly be a unique running of this historic race, we are grateful to be able to hold the Belmont Stakes in 2020.”
“Thanks to our partners at NBC Sports, fans across the country can look forward to a day of exceptional thoroughbred racing at a time when entertainment and sports are so important to providing a sense of normalcy.”
Coverage of the race will begin at 3 p.m. ET on that third Sunday of June.
This story first appeared on amNY.com