Three days after the Preakness announced plans to reschedule for October 3rd, the Belmont Stakes announced plans to be the first race in the 2020 Triple Crown. A member of the New York Racing Association’s board of directors told ESPN’s “In The Gate” podcast the race will happen “in the month of June” and will be shortened from its traditional 1 1⁄2 mile length. The race will be 1 1/8 miles, per AP writer Tim Reynolds.
Traditionally, the Triple Crown runs from the Kentucky Derby the first weekend in May to the Preakness in mid-May, and then the Belmont Stakes in early June. In March, Churchill Downs announced that the coronavirus pandemic would require rescheduling the Derby to September 5th.
This now gives us a June, September, October Triple Crown schedule. ESPN research indicates the Belmont Stakes have run second before, but never first. New York governor Andrew Cuomo released guidelines allowing for Belmont Park to re-open the first week of June without fans in attendance.
Traditionally, the Kentucky Derby is 1 1⁄4 miles, the Preakness is 1 3/16 miles, and the Belmont Stakes proves the strongest endurance test. Now, the Belmont Stakes will be the shortest race. This will shake up which horses are the better bet, although without having the two Triple Crown races in front of it, the Belmont Stakes will offer that much more uncertainty to bettors.