07/20/2008 11:00PM

Belmont to be open Wednesday for Spa simo


New York Racing Association officials said Monday that two blown transformers at Belmont Park would be replaced in time to provide sufficient power and air conditioning to properly conduct simulcasting when the Saratoga meet begins on Wednesday.

Belmont offers free admission and free parking for simulcasting, which will take place in the Belmont Cafe on the first floor and the Paddock Dining Room on the second floor. The latter was closed on Saturday due to power issues.

One transformer was replaced on Sunday, according to NYRA vice president/chief operating officer Hal Handel, and a second was to be delivered on Tuesday and installed and be functional by Wednesday at the latest.

Sunday’s final card of the Belmont meet was canceled when the jockeys refused to ride, citing unbearable heat conditions in the jockeys' room caused by a transformer fire on Saturday morning. The fire caused the evacuation of all NYRA officials for about an hour Saturday morning and forced the grandstand to be off limits to fans during the races that day.

Temperatures were in the low 90s on Saturday and there was limited air conditioning in the building. There was no air conditioning in the jockeys’ room.

On Sunday, temperatures were in the mid- to upper 90s and there was still no air conditioning. Sunday’s card included the $100,000 Evan Shipman Stakes, a one-turn 1 1/16-mile race for New York-breds, which will not be rescheduled. The $100,000 Solomon Northup, a two-turn 1 1/8-mile race at Saratoga on Aug. 9, is a similar spot.

Saturday’s transformer fire came 15 days after another transformer blew at NYRA.

``Why did two transformers blow in one month?" Handel said. "We have an engineer trying to figure that out."