A Horse Race Won’t Signal The Start Of A New York COVID-19 Recovery

A step forward?  

In 28 days, the first leg of the COVID-19 influenced Horse Racing Triple Crown, the Belmont, will be run in New York by the Queens-Nassau County border not far from one of the hardest hit COVID-19 areas in the country. The Belmont, which is usually the last leg of the Triple Crown, will be the first major sports event that will take place in New York since the sports industry’s shutdown in mid-March. The race will take place without fans in the stands, which means it will be almost be a normal Belmont Park race day. Belmont Park and a good number of thoroughbred and standardbred tracks are generally devoid of fans and in many cases only exist because the race track is connected to an onsite casino. Belmont does not have a casino. Horse racing is no longer a major sport. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said it was time to reopen race tracks and Belmont officials decided to put the big-time event on the calendar as quickly as possible. The original race date was June 6th. The second leg of the Triple Crown the Kentucky Derby will be held at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky on September 5th which is Labor Day weekend and the Preakness in Baltimore, Maryland will be four weeks later on October 3rd. All the dates are subject to change.

The Belmont will be nationally televised and there could be a media theme connected to the race. New York Tough. New York City is re-emerging, and it will be better than before. Sports events are what they are sports events.  But there is the first step of a recovery narrative connected to an event. It happened in New Orleans on September 25, 2006 with a Saints NFL home game about 13 months after Hurricane Katrina. It happened in New York following the September 11th terrorist attacks in 2001. That is how the Belmont probably will be portrayed, rightly or wrongly.

Justify (1), with jockey Mike Smith up, crosses the finish line to win the 150th running of the Belmont Stakes horse race and the Triple Crown, Saturday, June 9, 2018, in Elmont, N.Y. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)