That is a question I have asked before in other places.
2014 marked the first time in eight years that there was racing the day after The Belmont Stakes after not having such from 2007-’13. Part of that I believe was besides the handle that day, politics were a big part of it, in particular for people who can’t go on Saturday due to mainly the Jewish Sabbath who would be able to go on Sunday (parts of Brooklyn have between them the largest population of Orthodox Jews in the world outside of Israel). The card that day after the Belmont went on in spite of there being huge piles of trash all over the places that had yet to be cleaned out from Belmont Stakes Day. While there was a time when The New York Racing Association not only raced the Sunday, but also the Monday after The Belmont Stakes (in the days of six-day-a-week racing), that was before all of the security concerns and other things and the crowds we have on Belmont Stakes day now and Belmont Day itself if you include the post-race concert afterwards now runs well into Saturday night.
This led me to think then and even more so now: Especially with what happens Triple Crown chance or not on Belmont Stakes Day and given NYRA is likely under both business and political pressure to race that Sunday as usual, I (again) say it’s time to move The Belmont Stakes from Saturday to Sunday. Many traditionalists won’t like it and some who travel in for The Belmont might not like having to stay through Sunday into the start of a new workweek in many cases, but making The Belmont a Sunday race would eliminate the need for having a program the day after (as Monday is a normal dark day now except for Saratoga and certain holidays) as there would not likely be the same pressure to do that as there is now. While there is the threat of having an NBA Finals game tip not too long after The Belmont Stakes in that scenario, that is no longer as much the case given except in a limited number of situations, the NBA and NHL both like to give teams two days off between games in their respective Finals, especially if there is a travel day involved. In 2018, had The Belmont Stakes been on Sunday instead of Saturday, it would have potentially been a lead-in for NBC to Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals assuming that series got to that point, something NBC actually had done in recent years with Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals when that was on the Saturday of The Belmont Stakes. In addition, it gives those who can’t come on Saturday for religious reasons the chance to do so for a Sunday Belmont Stakes. It would be the first time Orthodox Jews would ever have a chance to see a Triple Crown race in person, something that I think is overlooked by many.
Moving The Belmont Stakes to Sunday also has other advantages that more than offset those for whom it may be more difficult to go because of not being able to as easily take the Monday after The Belmont off as opposed to the Thursday and Friday before: The weekend can truly become TWO big days of racing and the stakes festival can actually be expanded to four days: Thursday and Friday can be normal days with a stakes or three added to such while Saturday can become a true “Ladies Day” with ALL races on Saturday for fillies and mares or simply fillies. This would including swapping out the Acorn for the Coaching Club American Oaks, returning what used to be the most important race in the sport (and what used to be America’s only Classic race) for fillies back to its former status as I would also return the CCA Oaks to its former distance of 1 ½ miles for the same $1.5 Million purse the boys run for in The Belmont Stakes (also possibly working with Churchill Downs and Maryland Racing officials to make the Kentucky Oaks, Black-Eyed Susan and CCA Oaks an official Triple Tiara for Fillies with all three races one day before those for their male counterparts). This also would be part of a further overhaul of the NYRA stakes schedule with some stakes currently on Belmont Day moved to other points on the schedule, including most notably returning The Metropolitan Handicap to its traditional Memorial Day spot (that many real fans have been clamoring for) and The Brooklyn to the final Saturday of the Spring meeting at Belmont Park while moving the Suburban to 3-4 weeks before the Brooklyn depending on the calendar to revive the old New York Handicap Triple Crown with all three of those races worth $1 Million each (and a bonus for sweeping the three races and additional bonus money for horses who race in all three). The Met Mile can be replaced by the Nassau County Handicap for older horses that used to actually be run as part of Belmont Stakes Day (the last time that incarnation of the race was run in 1993 was actually a Grade 1 and is not be confused with another race of the same name for three year old fillies that was did become a Grade 2 before being discontinued) while the Brooklyn can be replaced on Belmont Days by a revival of The Gallant Fox, which I would bring back in this scenario as a 1 ¾ Mile event that would start at the top of the stretch.
This would be the proposed stakes schedule for a four-day version of The Belmont Stakes Festival, running Thursday through Sunday:
Wonder Again (Grade 3, $200,000) 3YOF 1 1/4 Miles on Turf (increased in distance, part of special four-day Pick Four wager with Penine Ridge, Coaching Club American Oaks and Belmont Stakes)
Astarita ($150,000) 2YOF 7 Furlongs on Turf (revival of stake last run in 2005 as a grass race, two year olds in Europe are already racing that long on grass).
Astoria ($150,000) 2YOF 5 ½ Furlongs (no change from 2017)
Penine Ridge (Grade 3, $200,000) 3YO 1 1/4 Miles on Turf (moved from Saturday before Belmont and increased in distance, part of special three-day Pick Three wager with Coaching Club American Oaks and Belmont Stakes)
Cowdin ($150,000) 2YO 7 Furlongs on Turf (revival of race last run in 2005, returning as a grass race)
Tremont ($150,000) 2YO 5 ½ Furlongs
Coaching Club American Oaks (Grade 1, $1,500,000) 3YOF 1 ½ Miles (moved from Saratoga and returned to its former distance with the Acorn moved to most likely the Wood Memorial program in April, the Mother Goose replacing the CCA Oaks at Saratoga and the Gazelle either moved up to March or returned to its former spot of opening weekend of the Belmont Park fall season in September)
Jersey Girl ($150,000) 3YOF 6 Furlongs (moved from day after The Belmont Stakes)
Rare Perfume ($150,000) 3YOF 1 1/16 Miles (revival of race last run in 1990 and increased in distance from that time)
Ruffian (Grade 2, $250,000) F&M 3+ 1 1/16 Miles (increased in distance and replacing the Odgen Phipps, which moves in this to most likely late June to be a female counterpart to the Suburban)
Bed o’Roses (Grade 3, $250,000) F&M 3+ 6F (shortened in distance)
Just A Game (Grade 1, $700,000) F&M 3+ 1 Mile on Turf
New York (Grade 2, $600,000) F&M 3+ 1 ½ Miles on Turf (increased in distance)
Belmont Coronation ($200,000) F&M 4+ 2 Miles on Turf (last run in 2016 and increased in distance from then)
Ladies Handicap ($250,000) F&M 3+ 1 ¾ Miles (moved from earlier in the year and increased to a distance more fitting for the oldest stakes event in the sport for females)
New Stake (unnamed for now, $150,000) F&M 3+ 6 Furlongs on Turf
Belmont Stakes (Grade 1, $1,500,000) 3YO 1 ½ Miles
Easy Goer ($150,000) 3YO 1 1/16 Miles
Woody Stephens (Grade 2, $400,000) 3YO 7 Furlongs
True North (Grade 2, $250,000) 3+ 6 Furlongs
Jaipur (Grade 2, $400,000) 3+ 6 Furlongs on Turf
Poker (Grade 3, $300,000) 3+ 1 Mile on Turf (moved from week after The Belmont Stakes)
Sword Dancer (Grade 1, $1,000,000) 3+ 1 ½ Miles on Turf (moved from Travers Day at Saratoga as part of a swap that moves The Manhattan to the week between the Derby and Preakness in May and the Man o’War back to its former spot on opening weekend of the fall meet at Belmont with the Sword Dancer no longer having to compete with the Arlington Million for Horses).
Belmont Gold Cup (Grade 2, $400,000) 3+ 2 Miles on Turf (moved from the day before The Belmont Stakes)
Nassau County Handicap ($300,000) 3+ 1 1/8 Miles (last run in 1993 as a Grade 1)
Gallant Fox ($300,000) 3+ 1 ¾ Miles (last run in 2009, increased in distance and replacing the Brooklyn, which would be moved to the final Saturday of the spring meet at Belmont Park.
This might not be quite the monster card Belmont Stakes day is, but basically in this format you would have 10 stakes (including the CCA Oaks on Saturday and Belmont on Sunday) on TWO days in this while NYRA also is able to create a few more big days on other days during the year. Such days would still attract lots of horses for all of the stakes (26 in all!) over the four-day stretch this would encompass as owners likely will want to have horses in races on these days. At the same time, it creates a second big day for NYRA they can likely package with The Belmont Stakes for people looking to attend Belmont Stakes day and as noted allow those unable to be at Belmont on Saturday for religious reasons to be there and in most cases see a Triple Crown race in person for the first time in their lives.
I suspect NBC would love having the Belmont Stakes on a Sunday with most likely on Sunday such having a 7:00 PM or so post time to lead directly into prime time that night (plus the Belmont Stakes itself qualifying for normal prime time since on Sundays prime time begins at 7:00 PM Eastern Time rather than 8:00 PM ET). It might also lead NBC to have telecasts on Saturday and Sunday since the CCA Oaks could headline a two-hour Saturday broadcast on NBC from 4:00-6:00 PM or 5:00-7:00 PM ET in addition to The Belmont on Sunday most likely airing from 4:00-7:30 or 8:00 PM ET (depending on when Belmont Stakes post time would be).
This is a move to me that should have been done a few years ago. It would eliminate the headache of having to run a racing program the day after The Belmont Stakes while at the same time as noted creating a second really big day of racing that can stand out on its own. As I would do such:
Thursday and Friday: 8 or 9 races with first post at 3:00 PM both days.
Saturday (CCA Oaks Day): 13 Races with first post at Noon or 12:30 PM
Sunday (Belmont Day): 13 Races with first post at 11:35 AM
The early start on Sunday might be of concern to some but I think would be acceptable. It just seems time to make the move of The Belmont Stakes to Sunday, traditionalists be dammed.