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All returned to their regular spots on the calendar this year with limited fans. The advertised crowd for the May 1 Kentucky Derby was 51,838, nearly a third of the venue’s usual capacity, but at the time it was the largest crowd at any sporting event since the pandemic began. The number of participants for the Preakness on May 15th was limited to 10,000. That is a little less than 10 percent of the route’s usual capacity.
When tickets for the Belmont went on sale in May, attendance was limited to 11,000 fans based on New York State guidelines that outdoor sports and entertainment venues operate at 33 percent occupancy and that all spectators have a vaccination certificate or a vaccination certificate Submit negative coronavirus test result.
Since then, that guide has been relaxed and the organizers have released a few more tickets but are still expecting around 11,000 people. (Belmont’s record attendance of 120,139 was set in 2004 when Birdstone refused to give Smarty Jones a triple crown sweep.) Evidence of vaccination or a negative test is no longer required, and masks are only required for unvaccinated guests. There are no general admission tickets and social distance seating is limited to reserved seating and hospitality areas (some areas are only for vaccinated people). Belmont’s signature backyard picnic area – usually covered with blankets and camping chairs – will instead be filled with picnic tables that were sold in groups of six for more than $ 100 each.
In 2020, Tiz the Law became the first New York-bred horse to win the Belmont Stakes in 138 years, but he did so on the shorter distance, not the punishing mile and a half that earned the race the nickname “Test of the Champion.” He finished second in the derby, ending his modified Triple Crown hopes.
The Derby favorite is the favorite again.
Rombauer defeated Midnight Bourbon in Preakness by three and a half lengths, but he’s not the favorite in the morning line at Belmont. This award goes to Essential Quality, the Derby favorite who was hit at the gate, ran far in both corners and finished fourth with his first loss in six starts.
Essential Quality belongs to the controversial ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, has a tactical pace and shouldn’t have a problem with the one and a half kilometers, as his father Tapit produced three Belmont winners. Rombauer, who did not start the derby, picks up the experienced New York jockey John Velazquez, who won his fourth derby on board the Medina Spirit.