Updated on 06/08/2013 10:46AM

Belmont Stakes: Muddy track may improve to fast by post time


ELMONT, N.Y. - After 3 1/2 inches of rain pelted Belmont Park over a 24-hour period, the main track was to begin as muddy and sealed, but track officials are hopeful the surface could be fast by post time for the 145th Belmont Stakes.

“I’m pretty confident that we’ll be wet fast by then,” said Glen Kozak, the New York Racing Association’s vice president of facilities and racing surfaces. “If we get real lucky, we’ll be fast.”

First post for Saturday’s 13-race card is 11:35 a.m. Eastern. Post time for the Belmont is 6:36 p.m.

[BELMONT STAKES: Live updates and video from Belmont Park]

Both the inner and Widener turf courses will be labeled yielding and race 3, a maiden race scheduled for the Widener, was transferred to the dirt. The other four races, including the Just a Game and Manhattan - both Grade 1 races worth $500,000 - were to be run on the turf. The Just a Game will be the first race run on the turf with a post time of 3:58 p.m.

The other two races scheduled for the turf weren’t scheduled until after the Belmont with post times of 7:20 and 7:50 p.m., respectively.

The rails on both courses were taken down, and runners who get to the inside will be running over ground that has virtually been untouched this meet.

Kozak said that 3.49 inches of rain fell at Belmont, not stopping until just before 4 a.m. Saturday.

Kozak’s maintenance crew plated, or floated the track early Saturday morning and opened training to only Belmont Stakes runners from 6-7 a.m. Kozak said five horses went to the track, including Kentucky Derby winner Orb and Peter Pan winner Freedom Child.

Kozak said the main track would begin the card as muddy and sealed for the first few races and that he would harrow, or open, the track at his discretion.

“Right now we’re plating it off and then let the wind do its thing,” Kozak said.” Once the sun kicks in and with the wind this thing will come around pretty quickly.”

The forecast for Saturday was for partly sunny skies and temperatures in the mid to upper 70s. Winds were scheduled to be from 10 to 15 miles per hour.