The day began with an impromptu late morning flyover by the decommissioned space shuttle Enterprise, which flew past the track atop a 747 before landing at nearby John F. Kennedy International Airport, and included a visit from NBC Sports hockey analyst and racing fan Eddie Olczyk, a member of the 1994 Stanley Cup champion New York Rangers.
“There’s something about the prestige and the history of this track,” said Olczyk. “Being able to come here as a fan and being able to watch it on the simulcast back home in Chicago, I’ve been known to get my feet wet every once in a while when Belmont is going.”
With average daily purses at Belmont expected to reach $620,000, a number of high-profile outfits have opened up shop full-time in New York. Dale Romans, Ian Wilkes, Graham Motion and Mike Maker are among those joining established New York trainers Todd Pletcher, Bill Mott, Kiaran McLaughlin, Chad Brown, Linda Rice, Christophe Clement, and Jim Bond.
Ramon Dominguez, the two-time defending Eclipse Award winner as the nation’s top jockey and leading jockey on The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) circuit for the last three years, took a one-race lead, winning race 5 with favored Street Thug ($6.10), race 7 for Bond, and race 9 with Fourseventeen ($4.50).
“Between the great weather and racing at its best, I’m always happy to be back at Belmont,” said Dominguez, in the winner’s circle for the first time since returning on April 6 from a separated collarbone. “The competition, before the newcomers, was pretty difficult to begin with...it’s going to be definitely challenging.”