Are you planning on going to the Belmont Stakes on June 8 to see the third jewel of the Triple Crown? Then you’re in for a treat: Belmont Park is one of the most beautiful racetracks in the nation, and you don’t have to buy premium seats to have a first-class day.
If you want to have the ultimate Belmont Stakes day on a budget, buy General Admission tickets and read the tips below to make the most out of your afternoon.
Belmont Park is a whopping 445 acres, which is pretty incredible if you consider the track’s proximity to New York City. Before you head to the races, take a look at this facilities map and familiarize yourself with the grounds – trust me, you’ll be glad that you did. Once you do arrive at Belmont Park, take advantage of the track’s outdoor space by heading to the backyard area to start your day.
Once in the backyard, secure a picnic table under the towering shade trees to use as a basecamp for the day. Be warned: the tables are first-come, first-served, so plan on getting to the track early to stake one out. The good news? Once you have a table, all you need to do to keep it all day is put a newspaper down. A weird but time-honored New York racetrack tradition makes this move an ironclad claim. (FYI, putting a newspaper on a seat or table will also work at Saratoga Race Course in the summer and Aqueduct in the winter.)
Once you have your picnic table secured, take a walk around the area. You’ll find all sorts of charming details: a duck pond, a bandstand, a playground for kids with a dope slide that adults can and should go down, and wagering windows galore. There’s so much room in this area that you can bring a picnic, a cornhole game, and all of your friends and still have some room to spread out.
As you walk toward the grandstand, pay attention to the park-within-a-park at the north end of the backyard: that’s the saddling paddock, where the horses are paraded before each race. While access to the paddock is extremely limited (usually only horse owners, trainers, jockey, and some media are allowed in), fans are welcome to stand on the tiered viewing areas surrounding the paddock. It’s a great way to get up close to the contenders; but if you want to stand there before the Belmont Stakes, plan on getting there really early – it gets pretty crowded.
Want to explore the inside of Belmont Park? Your general admission ticket will give you access to all three floors of the grandstand. One of my favorite spots in the grandstand is on the first floor near the tunnel that connects the saddling paddock to the racetrack. This is where the horses will walk before and after each race, and anyone can line the walkway to see the horses. If you’re headed in that direction, remember to bring a few peppermints with you to give the lead ponies. True story: horses really, really love peppermints.
Moving upstairs, there are a few places in the grandstand to stand on the second and third floors that give you unparalleled views of the track with GA tickets, including the finish line. While you can’t take any of the seats without a reserved ticket, the views from the standing room are excellent. Again: get there early if you want to claim these spots for the Belmont Stakes!
The third floor also has a food court, offering carved sandwiches, rotisserie chicken, burgers, hot dogs, and (of course!) pizza. It’s located on the far eastern side of the third floor grandstand, just before the clubhouse.
Finally, make sure you scope out the part of the track known as the “apron.” It’s the seating-and-standing area that lines the homestretch. There are first-come, first-served benches here, so you can get free seats with an unparalleled view of the track by being savvy about your timing. To get a good spot for the Belmont Stakes, head to the apron about an hour before the big race for an ideal view.
The best part about the apron is that the finish line at Belmont Park is actually on the grandstand side of the facility, not the clubhouse side – and that means your general admission tickets can give you a front-and-center spot to watch history. Just head down to the rail separating the spectators from the racetrack, then walk to your right until you’re just to the left of the stage where Flo Rida will perform. It’s an amazing spot to get the best view of the finish in the house. Even better, you’ll have front-row seats for the concert!
General Admission tickets are an amazing value, so scoop yours up now and get ready for a great day in New York.