- READER REVIEWS
Nearby Subway Stops
F at 169th St.; E, J, Z at Jamaica Center-Parsons/Archer
F to 169th St., then Q2 or N6 bus to Belmont; E, J or Z to Jamaica Ctr.-Parsons Blvd., then Q10 bus to Belmont; LIRR to Belmont.
- On Premise Parking
- Valet Parking
$2, $5 clubhouse level
Despite the ivy creeping down its brick façade, the building that houses the world's largest thoroughbred grandstand, fronted by the sport's largest dirt racecourse, has all the utilitarian drabness of a public high school. The hulking structure has straddled the New York City/Nassau County border since 1905, when Model Ts first packed its parking lots. Though it no longer draws weekend crowds of 150,000 (more like 2,000 daily), it’s still the place to be on Belmont Stakes day, the last leg of the Triple Crown. "Championship Park" has played host to no less than eleven Triple Crown winners, including Secretariat, who gave his most impressive performance here—arguably the greatest in racing history. He is immortalized by a statue in the paddock, where future legends are groomed in open stables and paraded for the audience. Despite its prestigious history, Belmont is a democratic park. General admission is a mere $2; it costs just a few bucks more to enter the spiffier (if not exactly luxurious) clubhouse level on the 2nd floor, where pictures of Jack Nicholson and Christie Brinkley hang alongside black and white photos of famous jockeys. On the front lawn, parents eat out of coolers and watch the races on overhead TV monitors while their kids trot around on the playground or feed the ducks on the pond. Coolers aren't allowed inside, but myriad concessions and in-house cafes compensate: everything from a tiki stand serving piña coladas to the jackets-only, fourth floor Garden Terrace restaurant overlooking the track. There’s a barber shop next to the first floor small video arcade, but the old-timers aren’t here for haircuts; they're watching hundreds of overhead monitors or placing bets ($2 and up) at the scores of betting windows and newfangled electronic tellers.Extra
The paddock is the gem of the park and a peaceful respite from the thrill of victory and agony of defeat in the stands. From the tiered viewing area, a decidedly well-behaved cluster of spectators enjoys a close-up view of horses being paraded in circles and jockeys mingling with owners and the media. The Replay Center is an interactive database that allows you to view the year's previous races.
Weekends and holidays from May through September (except on Stakes day), the Belmont Café hosts Breakfast at Belmont from 7 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., while the horses work out. Arrive before 8 a.m. for a free tour of the starting gate and the barn area where horses are kept and which is normally off-limits.