05/19/2016 7:04AM

Sports Business Journal honors Belmont Stakes


The Belmont Stakes, with American Pharoah becoming the first horse in 37 years to sweep Thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown, was selected as the 2015 sports event of the year by the Sports Business Journal.

The announcement came Wednesday night at an awards ceremony at the Marriott Marquis in Manhattan. Also nominated were Super Bowl 50, the FIFA Women’s World Cup, the Bojangles Southern 500 (a NASCAR race), and the championship welterweight fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. The 2015 SBJ awards honored excellence and outstanding achievement in the business of sports from March 1, 2015 through Feb. 29, 2016.

The New York Racing Association capped attendance at 90,000 for the Belmont Stakes, though it is believed far fewer were in attendance to watch American Pharoah gallop to a 5 1/2-length victory over Frosted and become the first horse to sweep the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes since Affirmed in 1978.

In the interim, 12 Belmonts were run where a horse was going for the Triple Crown but lost, including in 2014 when California Chrome finished fourth. That year’s Belmont was also known for several logistical snafus, including a lack of food and beverages, problems for patrons who used the Long Island Railroad, and traffic snarls leaving the Belmont when the races were over.

For 2015, NYRA worked with transportation officials as well as food and beverage vendors - and added a post-race concert - to address those problems, and last year’s Belmont was widely hailed as a logistical success.