It is Saturday morning June 10th, I am dressed up in slacks, wingtip shoes, and a pink button down shoes. Safe to say this isn’t my normal weekend morning attire but today is special, it is the 149th running of the Belmont Stakes. Having never been to one of the legs of the Triple Crown, let alone a horse race I didn’t know what to expect but was very excited as we piled into the car.
About 45 minutes later I found myself on the grounds of the Belmont Racetrack. This was truly like nothing I have ever seen before. The old world feel of the track/horses, women in bright dresses with large floppy hats, and men dressed to the 9s in suits was a site especially considering the 80-degree temperate at 11:00am with expectations that it would rise.
We toured for a little then took our seats in the Clubhouse, marveling at the influx of viewers but more importantly the athleticism/grace of the horses. As each race passed, you could see the agony of defeat and elation of winning as patrons went to cash in their winning tickets. I personally, don’t gamble horses but you can imagine how it makes for some great people watching.
As the day grew on I began to take more notice of the sponsors/advertisers/entertainment that was at this event. You had everything from NBCSports, to Logines, to KetelOne, to Grammy Winning artist Andy Grammer performing. It was interesting to try and figure out the audience that the Belmont was attempting to attract. This mix appeared to be a balancing act of keeping the Old-World Spirit of horse racing, while engaging a younger demographic. Think about modes of transportation over 100 years ago (most likely horses) to current day (Uber, electric powered cars, and self-driving vehicles coming soon). This alone should allow you to understand the difficulty in attracting such a broad audience. In a year where there was no Triple Crown threat with an attendance of around 58,000, it’s safe to say those running the show are doing a good job.
With the day ending and Tapwrit edging out the favorite Irish War Cry, I was very grateful to get to experience one of the nation’s most iconic sporting events and I highly recommend you check it out at least once. If you are planning to be there the whole day I have a few recommendations 1) Drink/bring plenty of fluids for the warm day 2) Comfortable, yet appropriate clothing is a must (make sure to dress to impress though) 3) Sunglasses and or a hat will save help you avoid the dreaded lobster hue.
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