New York Governor Wants To Spend More Than $450 Million To Save Belmont Park

Horse Racing’s popularity has seen a steep decline.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul would like to see a renovation of the Belmont Park racetrack in Elmont and is willing to spend $455 million in state funding to see that happen. The racetrack is losing money and even with a track renovation, sinking money into the facility probably won’t revive an industry that has been in a massive decline for decades. There are some races that still attract attention, the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont along with the Breeders’ Cup but it is no longer 1950 when Baseball, Boxing and Horse Racing dominated the American sports landscape. College football was more popular than the NFL. Basketball and hockey were fringe sports. Soccer was a foreign sport. Horse racing was an everyday event, not just the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont races. People could go to the track and bet legally.

Horse racing had a big following but that quickly faded after the 1950s as states began lotteries and betting was made easy. In the 1960s, there was a limited but growing form of legalized betting around, with state lotteries, off track betting and the availability of all forms of gambling in stores along with casinos sprouting up around the country gamblers’ have choices. A portion of the horse racing industry has been saved by casino gambling at tracks. That is not going to change anytime soon. Hochul said the state has no real choice but to save the track. “The alternative is to have a site that deteriorates, loses value, has a detrimental effect on the surrounding neighborhood. And it also helps become the death of an industry which is synonymous with New York State, the racing industry. One part of the Triple Crown.” Tracks have closed around the country and there is no novelty to horse racing.

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Tiz the Law (8), with jockey Manny Franco up, crosses the finish line to win the152nd running of the Belmont Stakes horse race, Saturday, June 20, 2020, in Elmont, N.Y. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)