Belmont frenzy hits New York City

Looking for something fun to do this Saturday? Belmont Stakes are right in our backyard.

Take me out to the ... racetrack! A crowd of more than 90,000 fans is expected this Saturday at Belmont Park racetrack in Queens for the 144th running of the Belmont Stakes, the last leg of racing's Triple Crown.

 

The attendance is in large part boosted by I'll Have Another's bid to become the first horse since 1978 to sweep all three races in the Triple Crown. People will show up to say that "they were there" if history is made as well as to see and be seen at one of New York's largest parties of the year.

 

A horse race is much more than two-minutes of gut-wrenching, heart-throbbing excitement; it is a scene and a show of pageantry that is often upended in the stands by a long list of celebrities. A number of prominent faces always attend the race, with recent attendees over the past few years ranging from former NBA star Shaquille O'Neal to Sarah Palin.

 

Here's Metro's primer to get you ready for Saturday's big race:

 

The races




While the 6:40 p.m. Belmont Stakes is the big draw, there are still plenty of big races and reasons to get to Belmont Park early. The first of 13 races begins at 11:35 a.m. and builds up to the Stakes. If this is your first trip to the racetrack, get there early and begin to get a feel for the track and the horses.

Getting there




Mass transit is the best way to go, with the Long Island Railroad offering extra trains Saturday with departures as often as three times an hour from Penn Station, starting at about 10 a.m.

Brooklyn and Queens residents can get the special Belmont train from Jamaica station.

Where to sit




Reserved tickets are all sold-out, but clubhouse admission at $20 and general admission at $10 is still available and will be sold throughout the day on Saturday.

Bring a beach chair or tailgate chair just in case, but show up early to claim a bench. Seating is first-come, first-serve.

Race bars




If you can't make it to the track, check out the bourbon-based libations at Siro's, a Second Avenue offshoot of a bar at the Saratoga Springs track. And there's always the aptly-named Triple Crown Ale House in Chelsea. Imbibe in "The Belmont," a mix of Irish whiskey, Drambuie and sour mix.

What to wear




Half the fun of the race is the people-watching and the Belmont Stakes is the world's greatest melting pot of fashion. Women in ridiculous hats and impossible heels, men in seersucker suits and derby hats make for a colorful statement in the stands.

Jeans and shorts are frowned upon but are allowed in the general admission area -- just don't try sneaking into the good seats dressed that way or you will surely attract attention. So gentlemen, run off to the dry cleaners with your suit and ladies, get that summer dress out. Admit it; the pictures will look great on Facebook too.

What to eat




Unless you're packing some Pepto-Bismol, avoid eating at the concession stands and keep it limited to beverage and snack food choices. The restaurants at Belmont Park are top-class but seats are already gone given the popularity of the race.

So your best bet is the "Backyard" area, which is a fun place to visit and stroll around for a little fresh air.

Located behind the track, the "Backyard" features a number of food tents featuring standard burgers and fries as well as Chinese and BBQ favorites.

 
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