Written by 01:15 Business

Saratoga Springs Will Host Belmont Stakes Amid Shifts in Horse Racing

In 1863, John (Old Smoke) Morrissey, seeing promise in an upstate town with natural springs and access to the wealthy and foolhardy from New York to Boston, held the first race meeting in Saratoga Springs. Morrissey’s résumé foretold his vision: Old Smoke was a boxing champion, gangster, casino owner, gambler and future United States congressman.

Ever since, horse players from around the world have made Saratoga a summer sojourn, knowing that their souls, their livers and their bank accounts were certain to take a beating because of the happenings at the track.

Saratoga’s past has always been tethered to its future. The Battle of Saratoga was pivotal to the American Revolution. The potato chip was born here. And a horse named Upset handed the immortal Man o’ War his only loss in 22 races, earning the country’s oldest racetrack its nickname: the Graveyard of Champions.

On Saturday, when 10 horses line up for the 156th running of the Belmont Stakes, history and hope will be linked once more. The most storied track in America is hosting the third leg of the Triple Crown at a time when progress around safety and increased capital investment seems to be lifting the prospects of a battered old sport.

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Last modified: 8 June 2024
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