The fastest Belmont Stakes time was set by Secretariat in 1973. (Photo: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images )
The Belmont Stakes, the third jewel in horse racing's Triple Crown, in some years provides one of the most exciting moments in sports, at least if there's a Triple Crown contender entered -- a horse that's won both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness. Even in a year when racing's highest honor is not at stake, the Belmont race and its accompanying festivities still make for an unforgettable New York belmont stakes what to wear travel experience.
What to See
Belmont Stakes Festival Week kicks off with a parade through the streets of Elmont, New York, a week before the race, which is run every June. Other race week events include a horse-themed film festival and guest speakers at the Elmont Public Library, a charity run that finishes up on the race track itself, and Belmont jockeys tending bar at a restaurant in town. Three days before the race you can sit in the stands at Belmont Park to witness the draw for post position, and Garden City sponsors a Belmont street festival on the day before the stakes are run.
How to Get There
If you're driving to Belmont Park on race day, plan to get there early to avoid the crowds -- the parking lots open at 8:15 a.m., and the park gates open at 8:30. You can also take the bus to the track; it is served by the N6, Q110 and Q2 MTA lines. The Long Island Rail Road provides direct service to the park on the day before the race as well as on the day itself, and the New York Racing Association sponsors a race day shuttle that serves the communities of Elwood and Floral Park.
Tickets and Seating
Reserved seating for the Belmont Stakes can be purchased ahead of time through a lottery system that begins in February. They may also be available through the Ticketmaster website or through a re-seller such as StubHub. All reserved seats include admission to the clubhouse. On the day of the race you'll be able to buy a general admissions ticket or one that will give you access to the clubhouse without reserved seating. Without a reserved seat, you'll need to stake out a chair, bench or a table in the clubhouse, grandstand, backyard or track-side.
What to Wear
Belmont Park advises that "elegant attire" is a race day tradition, and some areas of the track have specific dress codes. In the Belmont Room, box area, Turf and Field Club and Marquees I and II, men are required to wear suits or sport coats, while women must dress in "appropriate attire," to be determined by the management. In the Belmont Cafe, Secretariat Buffet, Suffolk Buffet, Belmont Buffet, Triple Crown Pavilion, Garden Terrace and North Shore Terrace, men must wear jackets. None of these areas permits patrons in jeans, shorts or skimpy clothing. The paddock and winner's circle require men to wear collared shirts and also forbid the wearing of shorts or "abbreviated wear," while cut-off or short-shorts, midriff tops and men wearing tank tops are forbidden in the clubhouse and the Paddock Dining Room. The dress code applies to children as well as adults, but the guest services centers do have a selection of pants, jackets and skirts to lend out.
Do's and Don'ts
Do not bring a backpack, briefcase or purse larger than 12" in diameter; these items aren't allowed in the park. Don't attempt to tailgate or bring any alcoholic beverages with you because these are also prohibited. You may bring along food items, but these must be in a see-through plastic container or bag no larger than 18-by-18 inches. Do remember to wear plenty of sunscreen and drink plenty of water since New York summers can be quite hot. Don't miss catching a glimpse of the famous white carnation blanket and silver trophy emblematic of the Belmont Stakes and try the signature Belmont Breeze punch made from whiskey, cream sherry, lemon juice, orange juice, cranberry juice, soda and fresh strawberries. This cocktail is to the Belmont Stakes what the mint julep is to the Kentucky Derby.
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