The revised 2020 Belmont Stakes has a total purse of $1 million. The winning team gets more than half of the Belmont prize money with a $535,000 check, per America’s Best Racing.
This year’s event is unique as it was shortened from the typical 1 1/2 miles to 1 1/8 miles. There are no fans in the stands and the purse was cut by one-third as a result of a loss of revenue.
The Belmont is typically the longest Triple Crown race but horses traditionally have two major contests to work up to the distance. The revised schedule made the Belmont the first Triple Crown event in 2020 which prompted the decision to shorten the race’s distance.
“It was tough to ask developing 3-year-old horses to go that far after not racing for months,” New York Racing Association Chief Executive David O’Rourke explained to The New York Times. “As far as the purse, we partly rely on casino revenues, and it doesn’t look like they are running any time soon.”
The Lack of Fans & the Drop in Casino Revenue Contributed to the Reduced Purse
Not only are the race organizers dealing with the loss of revenue from the lack of fans but casinos took a major hit as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. NYRA’s Senior Vice President of Racing Operations Martin Panza admitted there have been “significant purse cuts” to the recent race schedule including the Belmont Stakes.
“Without the casino operating and without on-track attendance, we’ve had to make significant purse cuts,” Panza noted to the Paulick Report. “The purse cuts to the stakes schedule are much more dramatic than the overnight schedule and we’ve tried to help the everyday horsemen as much as possible through these trying times by writing a rich and varied condition book, offering a daily opportunity for black type, that will support horsemen at all levels of the game.”
The Triple Crown Schedule Will Continue in September With the Kentucky Derby
Not only is the Triple Crown calendar revised but the horses will have a long layoff until the Kentucky Derby takes place on September 5. The Preakness Stakes will be the final leg of this year’s Triple Crown on October 3. It will be interesting to see what the field of horses looks like in the fall as the Belmont featured a shallow field for several reasons.
According to the Courier Journal, contenders Charlatan, Nadal and Maxfield were all pulled from the race as a result of injuries. The revised calendar also likely has some teams skipping the Belmont and waiting until the Kentucky Derby runs in September.
“… I do think that there has been some change in some people’s plans heading to the (Kentucky) Derby, maybe not running in the Belmont and getting there a different way,” NBC Sports’ Jerry Bailey explained to Courier-Journal. “But the most important horse that we have in the 3-year-old picture right now has not changed his plans at all.”
There has not been a year in horse racing quite like 2020, and we are unlikely to see something similar any time soon.