Sports Teams May Build Venues Next To Belmont Park

Quezon wins Aqueduct's $100,000 Garland of Roses Stakes for fillies and mares on Dec. 9, 2017. Credits: Susie Raisher | NYRA
An aerial view of Belmont Park in 2015 Credits: Kevin P. Coughland
Proposed Belmont site incorporating a 26,000 seat arena for the New York Islanders and other development. Credits: Provided

The cat's out of the bag! Rumors about all the space surrounding Belmont Park that have been circulating around Nassau and Suffolk counties for years have been put on the table.

The New York Islanders National Hockey League Team and the New York City Football Club, a professional soccer team, laid out their plans for a new 18,000-seat indoor arena for hockey and a 26,000-seat for soccer at a meeting at Elmont High School on Dec. 10.

The meeting was attended by several hundred residents of the Elmont/Belmont area who were there to find out how the two proposals would impact their residential neighborhoods in both Elmont in Nassau County and across the county line in the Borough of Queens.

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The race track itself is located partially in Queens and partially in Elmont.

The hockey team is seeking to move out of Brooklyn, their home since 2015. Prior to that. The New York Islanders called Nassau Coliseum home.

The soccer team, which is partially owned by the New York Yankees, have been playing at Yankee Stadium at 161st Street and River Avenue in the Bronx.

The soccer team's proposal also contains plans for a retail center, dining, a park area and possibly an apartment complex on the south side of Hempstead Turnpike.

Both groups acknowledge their projects would increase vehicular traffic in the area. But, both groups are counting on the present Belmont Park station of the Long Island Railroad, a manually switched siding that doubles as a storage area for the LIRR's track maintenance crews, would be moved northward and become a regular stop on the main line.

That move would guarantee ready transportation form both Manhattan to the west and Montauk to the east for hockey fans, soccer fans and the horse racing fans that frequent Belmont.

The Islanders backers have said the need for the up-grading of the LIRR facility is crucial to the group's plans for 150 events per year that includes hockey, college basketball, concerts and other sporting events.

The Islanders are backed in their efforts by a real estate consulting firm run by Fred and Jeff Wilpon, the owners of the New York Mets and by an arena developer that is affiliated with Madison Square Garden.

The soccer team acknowledges the Belmont site is not the only one on their list with the others being within the city limits.

While these two proposals are now open for all to see, the New York Racing Association is keeping mum on its plans for Belmont Park itself.

The track, which opened May 4, 1905, was demolished in 1963. During the five-year reconstruction, racing was held at Aqueduct with a 29-day move upstate to historic Saratoga.

NYRA is considering major improvements to Belmont that those supposedly in the know say will take two years.

That brings up two questions:

Will Aqueduct be a 10-1/2 month racing facility for those two years?

Or, will NYRA use those two years to expand the Saratoga meeting from July 4th through Labor Day and then permanently keep those dates?

And, just to keep the Saratoga hotel operators and real estate agents guessing, will this be the opening gambit to expand the Saratoga meeting from Memorial Day to Labor Day?

And, just to fuel the fires of speculation burning even brighter, will the 'New Belmont' become an enclosed fall-winter-spring facility with Aqueduct becoming a full time gaming facility?

As the broadcasters say, “Stay tuned.”

Applebaum Elected President of NYTHA

Joseph Applebaum has been elected president of the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association.

The owner of Off the Hook, a racing, breeding and sales company, a farm in Ocala, Fla. and offices in New York; succeeds Rick Violette, Jr. who has retired after serving on the association's board for more than 25 years.

The Thoroughbred owners elected to the board are Tina Marie Bond, Jack Brothers, Tom Durkin, Terry Finley and Robert Masiello.

Thoroughbred trainers elected are Leah Gyarmati, John Kimmel, Linda Rice, Richard Schosberg and George Weaver.

Quezon Wins Garland of Roses Stakes

Blanketed by the first snow of Winter 2017-18, Marc Keller's Quezon overtook Pico Uno in the shadow of the wire to win Aqueduct's $100,000 Garland of Roses Stakes for fillies and mares on Dec. 9.

The 5-year-old mare, a New York-bred daughter of Tiz Wonderful from the Olympio mare Kalookan Dancer defeated four rivals in the six furlong dash in 1:11.75 on a main track labeled 'good.'

Joe Rocco, Jr. was in the saddle for trainer Bob Ribaudo as Quezon broke last in the field. Rocco made his move from the head of the stretch and got home three parts of a length ahead of Picco Uno and Kendrick Caramouche. Jersey Joe Bravo and Absatootly  ere third another 2-1/2 lengths back.

Rocco commented after the race, “The two horses to beat were in front of me. I followed them until we turned for home. I was able to find a seam and get out. She switched leads and she really came home strong today.”

The win for Quezon was her sixth from 17 starts. The winner's check for $60,000 raised her purse earnings to $694,200.

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