06/15/2006 12:00AM

Belmont rating lowest since 2000


The final rating for the two-hour Belmont Stakes broadcast on ABC on Saturday was a 3.5, according to an ABC official, down 22 percent from last year's rating of 4.5.

The rating was the lowest for a Belmont Stakes broadcast since a 2.8 in 2000, the lowest rating recorded for a Belmont in history. Ratings have typically been low in any year in which a Triple Crown is not on the line, which was the case in 2000, 2001, 2005, and 2006.

The 3.5 rating means that approximately 3.8 million households watched the broadcast, which ran from 5 to 7 p.m. Eastern. Mark Mandel, a spokesman for ABC, said the network would not release share data for the broadcast. Share measures the percentage of televisions in use that are tuned to the broadcast.

The 2006 broadcast was the first Triple Crown race broadcast on ABC since the 2000 Belmont. NBC broadcast all three races of the Triple Crown from 2001 to 2005, but ABC reached a separate deal with the New York Racing Association, the operator of Belmont Park, for the 2006 Belmont Stakes.