Ever since May 1905, the Belmont Stakes has been run at Elmont-based Belmont Racetrack and ever since 1931, it has served as the third leg of the Triple Crown series behind the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes. The popularity of this prestigious Long Island–based horse race is such that according to The Original Racing Almanac, Belmont ranks fourth in attendance of North American stakes races behind the Derby, Preakness and the Kentucky Oaks. This year’s Belmont has even more meaning given the fact that I’ll Have Another has a shot at becoming the first thoroughbred to win the Triple Crown since Affirmed did it in 1978. So it’s no wonder that the neighborhoods surrounding Belmont have made a point of celebrating this annual affair, oftentimes with a slew of events held the week leading up to the race. One of the more celebrated fetes is the 11th Annual Floral Park Belmont Stakes Festival, an annual event that’s a family-friendly gala eagerly anticipated by the entire community.
This year promises to have plenty of fun packed into the five hours that it will be held from 2 to 7 p.m. on Sunday, June 10. Sponsored by the Floral Park Chamber of Commerce, the New York Racing Association (NYRA) and the Village of Floral Park, the Floral Park Belmont Stakes Festival was moved from its usual Friday’s eve of the race to the day after to provide for a more family-friendly atmosphere.
There will be plenty for kids of all ages to enjoy whether it’s live music, street performers, face painting, raffles, dance performances food, beverages and inflatable rides. Local merchants and community organizations will be out in full force. Alongside the Floral Park Art League’s annual Art Show and Raffle held in Memorial Park will be appearances by some famous names. Tom Durkin, the voice of horse racing for NBC Sports from 1984 through 2010, will be bringing his golden pipes down to the village. Residents will also be able to get face time with Eclipse Award-winning champion jockey Ramon Dominguez and television racing analyst Jason Blewitt. It’s all part of the small town ambiance Floral Park exudes in an area that’s around half an hour from Manhattan.