Updated on 06/08/2013 11:19PM

New York Post lays off racing staff a day before Belmont Stakes

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The New York Post, one of three major dailies in the New York area, fired its racing reporters effective immediately on Friday, one day prior to the state’s biggest race, the Belmont Stakes, and the paper will no longer cover racing in-house, its lead racing reporter said.

Ed Fountaine, the Post’s lead racing reporter since 1998 and a former Daily Racing Form reporter, said he was informed in a letter on Friday that he was being fired immediately along with analysts John DaSilva and Anthony Affrunti. Fountaine, 60, said the letter cited a “transition period” for the Post because of the planned spin-off of the newspaper properties of the Post’s parent company, News Corp.

The paper will not have any in-house coverage of the Belmont Stakes, Fountaine said.

Fountaine, a racing reporter his entire life, said he was relieved to be let go, citing the daily grind of the job. “I’ve got a screenplay I’ve been wanting to finish, and a couple of books I want to write, projects I couldn’t do because of my job,” he said. “Now I have the time. I’m not doing handstands, but I’m close.”

Earlier this year, the Post’s tabloid competitor, the New York Daily News, also scaled back its coverage of racing. Both papers had previously provided at least two pages of racing analysis and news, including harness racing.

Major newspapers have been eliminating daily racing coverage over the past two decades as the sport’s popularity has waned. In addition, the advent of the internet has provided racetracks with an outlet to provide entries and results to racing fans, and numerous blogs and racing-news sites have sprung up in the ebb of daily newspaper coverage.

A previous version of the article misstated Ed Fountaine's age. He is 60, not 68.