Belmont traces its origins to 1902, when a syndicate led by August Belmont II and William C. Whitney bought roughly 650 acres on Long Island in hopes of creating America’s premier race course. Over 40,000 fans attended the Belmont Inaugural at the course’s grand opening on May 4, 1905.
For more than a century, spectators have witnessed some of the industry’s most renowned contenders run its course, including Beldame, Sir Barton, Seabiscuit, Man o’ War, Cigar, Curlin, Secretariat, and most recently, American Pharoah.
The featured photographs date from Belmont’s earliest years through the first half of the 20th century. During these decades, Belmont Park was the site of varied historic events. In addition to providing the stage more than 100 years of racing, the facility hosted the Wright Brothers’ international aerial competition in 1910, drawing a crowd of 150,000 spectators. In 1918, Belmont Park served as the New York City terminal for the first airmail service between Washington, D.C. and New York. Another notable event toward the end of the period depicted in this photographic collection was Belmont’s hosting the “Back the Attack Day” in 1943 – a war fundraising effort at which fans bought war bonds for track admission. Receipts that day exceeded $25 million.
New York Racing Association. (2016). “History of Belmont.” Retrieved on October 10, 2016, from https://www.nyra.com/belmont/about/history-of-belmont
TJC Media Ventures. (2016). “Belmont Park: About This Track.” Retrieved on October 10, 2016, from https://www.americasbestracing.net/tracks/belmont-park