SBD/June 9, 2014/Events and Attractions

Belmont Stakes Sets Handle Record, But Big Crowds Cause "Infrastructure Chaos"

Saturday's attendance still fell nearly 18,000 shy of the all-time record
Saturday's Belmont Stakes drew a "record on-track and all-source handle," and the crowd of 102,199 marked the "third-highest attendance" in the event's history, according to BLOODHORSE. The on-track handle “totaled $19,105,877 and all-sources handle of $150,249,399 easily eclipsed all-time NYRA records.” The previous on-track handle record of $14,742,520 and all-sources handle record of $124,009,593 “both were set on Oct. 29, 2005 when Belmont Park hosted the Breeders' Cup World Championships.” The Belmont Stakes attendance record “remains 120,139,” which was set in ’04. The previous Belmont Stakes Day handle records were set in ‘04, with $14,461,402 wagered on track and $110,994,390 wagered from all-sources (BLOODHORSE.com, 6/7).

CROWD CONTROL: In New Jersey, Barry Federovitch writes the lower stands at Belmont Park “resembled the garbage-filled aftermath at Woodstock Saturday night.” It was the type of “infrastructure chaos that made one wonder if this was the first Belmont rather than the 146th for a town that seemed unprepared for a predictable surge that exceeded 102,000.” The event had an “air of disorganization,” as concessionaires “ran out of basic items (like cheese for cheesesteaks, lemonade and sausages).” In past years, the “majority of the crowd filtered out of a well-designed lot across from the park, minimizing traffic.” There was “no such luck this time as the town almost appeared to have lost the blueprint on how to run the event” (NJ.com, 6/9).

STOP THAT TRAIN, I'M LEAVIN': In N.Y., Flegenheimer & Pedulla noted fears that Belmont Park “might be overwhelmed by a crowd of more than 100,000 appeared to be confirmed" on Saturday. Nearly 36,000 fans “took the Long Island Rail Road to the track” and when the racing was done, attendees were “stranded for hours in winding, unmoving lines.” Outside the railroad station, riders “upbraided officers, pleading for clarity.” Many complained of the “sparse communication from track and rail officials.” NYRA spokesperson Jim Gluckson said the delays are “an LIRR situation.” He added, “They run the station” (N.Y. TIMES, 6/8). Also in N.Y., Chris Perez wrote, “Thousands of hungry, angry fans spent four hours trying to crowd onto jammed LIRR trains and get cars out of parking lots after the big race.” The N.Y. Post’s John Crudele said, “They begged people to use public transportation, but they weren’t prepared.” Perez noted a “record number of riders used the LIRR” (N.Y. POST, 6/8). In Boston, Michael Whitmer noted fans who went to Penn Station in N.Y. Saturday morning to “buy train tickets for the ride out to the track were met with a one-hour wait to make their purchase” (BOSTON GLOBE, 6/8).
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