An Insider’s Guide to Navigating the Belmont Stakes 2016

image: adam coglianese

Winning the race is tough, enjoying it shouldn’t have to be image: adam coglianese

At a mile and a half, the Belmont Stakes is considered the toughest leg of the Triple Crown. Since 1978, the year Affirmed won the Triple Crown, 14 horses have come to Long Island having won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. Only one crossed the line first: American Pharoah in a history-making race last year. Winning the race known as the “Test of Champions” is hard, but navigating it as a fan doesn’t have to be.

Eat Well

image: centerplate

image: centerplate

All your concession stand favorites, like burgers, hot dogs and bagels, are for the ordering. The Heritage Club food court offers guests paninis, chicken tenders and made-to-order salads for those looking to eat a little healthier. The Garden Terrace Dining Room, located on the fourth floor of the Belmont Clubhouse, features a buffet with a spread of local cheeses, mouthwatering tenderloins and cakes and pies that taste even more delicious than they look. The views of the track are some of the best in the park. Najja Thompson, the racing media specialist at The New York Racing Association, Inc., recommends reservations.

Dress to Impress

Royal Ascot


“Elegant attire has long been a tradition at Belmont Park,” Thompson said. Guests planning to go to the Clubhouse should dress in at least business casual attire. Those sitting in the grandstand, backyard and along the rail can dress down a bit, but come on, getting dolled up every once in a while is fun. Ladies, pull your best brightly colored, printed sundress out of the closet…it’s been waiting for you all winter. Don’t forget a showstopping hat—it’s tradition (and will protect you from the summer sun). Men should opt for slacks, a collared shirt and sport coat. The fedora is up to you, but ties are required if you scored box seats.

See the Stars

In a few weeks, you’ll see countless stars out East but this weekend they’ll all descend on Elmont. “At times, celebrities attending the races can be spotted in the paddock before races, which can be viewed from the paddock apron in the Belmont backyard,” Thompson said. The paddock will be restricted to horsemen, owners and VIP guests. If you’re VIP, head down to the paddock between races to see the horses running in all the races, including the Belmont Stakes, and perhaps spot a celeb or two.

See the Race in General Admission

If your tickets read “general admission,” it doesn’t mean you should get ready to spend the day standing in high heels, straining your neck to get a glimpse of the race. Belmont Park’s backyard is spacious and full of picnic tables for you and your crew to set up shop for the day. Thompson suggests getting there as early as possible. Gates open at 8:30am.

Don’t Miss the After Party

When the victory gallop is complete, keep your eye on the winner’s circle. Grammy-nominated artist Daughtry will put on a show near the coveted spot in Belmont Park. Broadway fans can look forward to a performance from smash hit Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.

beth ann clyde

beth ann clyde

Beth Ann Clyde is a Digital Editor of Long Island Pulse. Have a story idea or just want to say hello? Email or reach out on Twitter @BAClyde.