06/08 17:00 CDT NY governor warns Belmont Stakes could be affected if air
quality doesn't improve
NY governor warns Belmont Stakes could be affected if air quality doesn't
By The Associated Press
Racing at Belmont Park was canceled on Thursday due to poor air quality from
wildfires in Canada, and New York's governor warned that the Belmont Stakes,
the final leg of the Triple Crown, could be affected if conditions don't
improve by Saturday.
It was the second straight day in which the fires north of the border affected
sports in the northeastern United States. In Major League Baseball, the
Washington Nationals' home game against the Arizona Diamondbacks was postponed
Thursday, a day after games were called off at New York and Philadelphia.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said one of racing's biggest events could be
scrapped if the air quality index on Saturday exceeds 200, the Environmental
Protection Agency benchmark for air that is very unhealthy for everyone. If the
air quality is measured at 150 to 200, only horses that pass an additional
pre-race veterinary examination will be permitted to race, said Hochul, a
"People come from all over the country," Hochul said. "It's huge for the local
economy. And so we ... hopefully can get this going, but there's no assurance
of what the weather's going to be. So it's going to be a last-minute decision,
New York Racing Association vice president of communications Patrick McKenna
said in a statement to The Associated Press that state officials and the NYRA
consulted on how to proceed going forward in "our shared efforts to provide the
safest possible environment for training and racing thoroughbred horses."
McKenna said his group remains "optimistic that conditions will allow for the
resumption of training and racing on Friday in advance of the Belmont Stakes on
With weather systems expected to barely budge, the smoky blanket billowing from
wildfires in Quebec and Nova Scotia and sending plumes of fine particulate
matter as far away as North Carolina and northern Europe could persist through
Morning training was also canceled Thursday at Saratoga Race Course, and a
twilight racing program that would kick off the 2023 Belmont Stakes Racing
Festival was canceled.
Paula Creamer, the 2010 U.S. Women's Open champion, was among several golfers
wearing masks during a pro-am in Galloway, New Jersey, on Thursday, a day
before the ShopRite LPGA Classic was to begin.
Creamer also wore sunglasses during most of her nine holes as her eyes became
irritated with the hazy, smoky conditions.
Creamer is accustomed to a clear view of the Atlantic City skyline as she poses
for a pro-am photo. This was different.
"You can't even see an outline of it," she said. "It's such a wild thing. I
don't know if I've ever played in a tournament where we have to worry about the
air and pollution, especially in the United States."
A statement from MLB said the Diamondbacks-Nationals game was postponed after
conversations with medical and weather experts and the teams "regarding clearly
hazardous air quality conditions in Washington, D.C." It was rescheduled for
The Diamondbacks beat the Nationals 6-2 on Wednesday when smoky conditions were
noticeable, but not as severe. About 20 minutes before Thursday's game was
called off, Washington manager Dave Martinez said he took his dog for a walk
earlier in the morning.
"Not good," Martinez said. "It was a quick one. ... It's pretty bad out there."
The NFL's New York Giants also canceled practice Thursday.
AP Sports Writers Tom Canavan, Pat Eaton-Robb and Dan Gelston, and AP writer
Patrick Stevens, contributed to this report.
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