Saratoga Traveling Tips: What To Pack And How To Prepare For A Trip To The Belmont Stakes

Author: Lindsay Griffin

The Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes are in the books. Mystik Dan and Seize the Grey have been permanently enshrined in the annals of Thoroughbred racing as champions of the first two of this year’s three-year-old Classics. With the last of the Kentucky bourbon having been sipped and the final few Black-Eyed Susan petals swept away, the focus begins to sharpen on the final leg of the Triple Crown: the Belmont Stakes. In early June, as they always do, the eyes of the Thoroughbred racing world will turn to New York.

However, they won’t be gazing toward Belmont Park as is the norm. That establishment is undergoing massive and much-needed renovations, necessitating a move for the next two editions of The Test Of The Champion. This year and next, for the first time ever, the Belmont Stakes will be hosted by America’s oldest established racetrack: Saratoga Racecourse.

What does this mean for those who are planning to attend the Belmont Stakes in person? Read on for tips to consider when planning your trip to Saratoga Racecourse for the 2024 and 2025 runnings of the Belmont Stakes.

If you plan on wagering on the event, this is not the article for you. Consult instead this:

Check Your Travel Plans

This might sound like it should go without saying, but do not let the name of the event confuse you!

Although the race is called the Belmont Stakes, and it is typically held at Belmont Park (located in Elmont, NY), the race is in fact taking place at a different track in both 2024 and 2025. Although the race and the track are, of course, linked together, interestingly, the Belmont Stakes actually predates the opening of Belmont Park by nearly forty years; during that time the race was held first at Jerome Park (1867-1889) and then at Morris Park (1890-1905). The race was also moved to Aqueduct temporarily (1963-1967) while Belmont Park was being remodeled. 

This year, while the rest of the Belmont meets will be moved to Aqueduct, Saratoga Racecourse will host a four-day festival that includes the 156th running of the Belmont Stakes. Because the city of Saratoga Springs is approximately 190 miles away from Elmont, you should check your travel plans carefully to ensure that you are heading in the right direction. 

Bring The Right Clothes For The Weather And The Track

Although Saratoga Springs is in the northern part of a northern state, the summers can get very warm. The average daily maximum temperature over the past few decades for the month of June hovers around 80 degrees Fahrenheit. This means that you should reconsider long sleeves, and also plan for sun and heat protection. 

Rain is also not uncommon in Saratoga Springs at this time of year, with precipitation levels of more than .01 inches occurring on an average of 12.4 days out of each June. Keep in mind that many horse facilities ban or restrict the use of umbrellas, as they can easily blow away and spook horses. An emergency stash of ponchos might be a safer and more convenient choice. 

However, function should not be the only consideration when packing for a trip to Saratoga Racecourse! Saratoga is the oldest organized Thoroughbred racetrack in the United States, having been in operation since 1863. The annual summer meet at Saratoga is considered America’s equivalent of Royal Ascot- it is as much about the people attending the races as it is about the horses running in them. 

Although the Belmont Stakes Festival is not officially part of the Saratoga meet, the location is bound to inspire feelings of gentility, nostalgia, and high society regardless. While patrons should dress comfortably, they might also want to invest in stylish new outfits; there are also portions of the track that have a strict dress code, such as the box seats. 

Budget Your Money

Obviously, if you are going to attend the Belmont Stakes, you are going to want to watch the race- and you will likely want to make a few bets.

Betting is a great way to get involved in the sport and can involve very little risk- but only if bets are planned out in advance. Make sure that the major expenses of your trip, such as travel, entrance tickets, and food, are covered before placing any wagers! It is highly recommended to set aside a specific amount of money strictly for betting purposes, so that you are less likely to fall into temptation. 

This can be done easily by using an online betting app, which can quickly and safely transfer money from your bank account to your account with the app. Winnings can remain in your app’s balance and used for further bets or can be transferred back into your bank account. 

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