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Monday, September 22, 2014
Bringing the buzz back to Belmont
Residents revel in California Chrome's Triple Crown bid
Courtesy NYRA
Eyes on the Crown: Jockey Victor Espinoza and his heralded horse California Chrome will attempt to complete their quest on Saturday.

On Saturday, Belmont Park will play host to yet another Triple Crown contender, and just as local Elmont and Franklin Square residents will be watching — either from the stands or nearby, in their homes or in local watering holes — so will the rest of America.

California Chrome, the horse taking center stage with a chance to end the longest drought in Triple Crown history, 36 years, will face his biggest test on Saturday in the Belmont Stakes. Having won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, the 3-year-old must endure the longest of the three races — a mile and a half — and whether or not he succeeds, residents have been reveling in the buzz surrounding Chrome’s quest for weeks.

Elmont resident Consuelo Butron said that even though he doesn’t normally take an interest in horseracing, local businesses will no doubt benefit, with the eyes of the sports world focused on Belmont. “The Cinderella story of California Chrome goingfor the Triple Crown created a bucket list to the fans,” Butron said. “I may not be one of them, [but] as a resident, the popularity and the fierce history of competition will pull more fans and advertisers, [which] will convert to an increased revenue.”

One of those businesses is the Elmont Applebee’s, three blocks east of the racetrack’s main entrance. “[We do] see a small increase in business on the day of the Belmont Stakes,” the restaurant’s director of operations, Kurt Pahlitzsch, told the Herald. “The Belmont Stakes is a destination event, attracting more than 100,000 people to the area. We see a benefit from a branding standpoint, as our location and signage is highly visible to slow-moving traffic.”

Lori Stein Halop, whose parents moved to Elmont in the 1950s and who is now raising her own family there, said she anticipates a small increase in revenue for local businesses, but not much else. Halop said she believes the Stakes, although held in Elmont, somehow ends up giving neighboring Garden City more exposure, thanks to the Garden City Belmont Festival.

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