Racing at Belmont Park resumes ahead final leg of Triple Crown as air quality conditions improve: officials

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Racing officials in New York announced Friday that live racing at Belmont Park will reopen ahead of the final leg of the Triple Crown race on Saturday, due to “significant improvement in air quality conditions.”

The New York State Gaming Commission (NYSGC) and the New York Racing Association (NYRA) issued a joint statement announcing the decision to resume racing and training after activity at the racetrack was canceled Thursday over air quality concerns from the Canadian wildfire smoke blanketing the northeast. 

The main track is seen prior to the 155th running of the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park on June 8, 2023 in Elmont, New York. All training and racing on the track were canceled today due to the Canadian wildfires.  Air pollution alerts were issued across the United States due to smoke from wildfires that have been burning in Canada for weeks. (Al Bello/Getty Images)

PETA CALLS FOR BELMONT STAKES TO BE POSTPONED OVER AIR QUALITY CONCERNS FROM CANADIAN WILDFIRE SMOKE

“Moving forward, NYRA will continue to actively monitor air quality conditions and forecasts to ensure the environment remains safe for racing participants and fans this weekend,” officials said in a press release. 

The announcement follows calls from PETA to suspend racing until deemed safe for the horses. 

Horses being groomed outside Belmont Park

Horses are seen outside their barn prior to the 155th running of the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park on June 8, 2023 in Elmont, New York. All training and racing on the track were canceled today due to the Canadian wildfires.  Air pollution alerts were issued across the United States due to smoke from wildfires that have been burning in Canada for weeks. (Al Bello/Getty Images)

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New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said Thursday that the Belmont Stakes could be canceled if the air quality index on Saturday exceeds 200, the Environmental Protection Agency benchmark for air that is very unhealthy for everyone.

If the air quality is measured at 150 to 200, only horses that pass an additional pre-race veterinary examination will be permitted to race, Hochul added. 

Horses in the stall at Belmont Park

A horse is seen in its stall prior to the 155th running of the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park on June 8, 2023 in Elmont, New York. All training and racing on the track were canceled today due to the Canadian wildfires. Air pollution alerts were issued across the United States due to smoke from wildfires that have been burning in Canada for weeks. (Al Bello/Getty Images)

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According to the Air Quality Index (AQI) Forecast for New York State on Friday morning, air quality health advisories were still in effect for Long Island, with and AQI of 120. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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