Hanging around the city this weekend will surely be a harsh reminder that I can’t afford the all-star lineup at Governors Ball, which is why I’ve decided to play rich for the day for much less at the Belmont Stakes. The 146th Belmont Stakes boasts a tradition of culture and history for spectators of all kinds to dress to impress. Attending an event considered to be the “Sport of Kings” you might be asking yourself “what is an average joe from Brooklyn like me doing amongst the modern day Gatsby crowd?” But it is actually an affordable escape from the city, with a pretty impressively diverse audience, and an awesome way to spend Saturday just outside the city in Elmont, Long Island. And with a minimum bet of only $1, you could even pad your pockets a little.
Here is how to look like a race track regular without breaking the bank:
For $13.50 (after those awesome and totally necessary Ticketmaster fees) you can still get general admission to the third leg of the Triple Crown of Horse Racing. General admission grants you access to the grandstand, the viewing apron, and the always rowdy backyard. This is the cheapest and if you ask me, the only necessary option.
Grab a round trip ticket directly to Belmont Park where the races are held on the LIRR for another $14 and you are sure to have some fun in the sun for much less than the now-priced $225 a day Governor’s Ball tickets.
The minimum bets are just $1 and can drum up excitement for even you less experienced gamblers or they hold much higher stakes for those of us chasing that elusive superfecta (the superfecta rewards you with a huge payout for correctly calling the first four horses to finish each respective race).
While taking the safe bet on the favorite horse to win might only earn you an additional 75 cents on your dollar, landing a $1 superfecta can earn you upwards of $5,000, maybe more depending on your horse’s odds! Just don’t get caught scouring the ground at the end of the day looking for that miraculously unclaimed winning ticket.
Drink prices at the track were as high as $11 for a domestic beer last year, but rest assured there will be plenty of BYOB drinking on the raucous train ride over (you can drink on LIRR, if you didn’t know) and in the endless stretches of tailgaters outside the fairgrounds. This is where your 12-pack of High Life will come in handy as you can drink in the parking lot, just like most football games. As of last year coolers and alcoholic beverages were no longer allowed inside the grounds (due to “security measures”) but let’s be honest, this wouldn’t be your first time having to get creative to avoid overpriced booze at a sporting event.
REMEMBER: IT’S A MARATHON, NOT A SPRINT
Pace yourself: the first of 13 races on the day starts at 11:35 am and the last doesn’t run until 8:12 pm. And although you can spend the day holding binoculars on a stick and boasting your own self-worth, don’t worry, the snobbery takes a backseat to the partying at this event, lest we forget, this is a race track after all. That being said, spend the extra $3 on a program, bet wisely and your entire day could be paid for with one long shot bet of paralyzing excitement.