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Aqueduct Racetrack

Coordinates: 40°40′20″N 73°49′47″W / 40.67222°N 73.82972°W / 40.67222; -73.82972
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

LocationNew York City (South Ozone Park, Queens), New York
United States[1]
Owned byState of New York
Operated byNew York Racing Association
Date openedSeptember 27, 1894 (129 years ago) (1894-09-27)
Screened onMSG Plus (restricted to cable systems in New York City, Long Island, Northern/Central New Jersey, Fairfield County, Connecticut, and Northeastern Pennsylvania)
Capital OTB via WXXA Channel 23.2
NYRA.com/NYRA Now app (Internet)
Altitude Sports (Rocky Mountains)
Fox Sports 2
Fox Sports Ohio
Fox Sports West and Prime Ticket (Southern California)
Fox Sports San Diego
NBC Sports Network[2]
NBC Television
Course typeFlat/Thoroughbred
Notable racesWood Memorial Stakes (G1)
Cigar Mile Handicap (G1)
Carter Handicap (G1)
Gazelle Stakes (G2)
Gotham Stakes (G3)
Official website
Aerial view of Aqueduct's main track, inner dirt track and turf course, 2010
Main clubhouse entrance to Aqueduct Racetrack

Aqueduct Racetrack is a Thoroughbred horse racing facility and casino in the South Ozone Park and Jamaica neighborhoods of Queens, New York City, United States.[1] Aqueduct is the only racetrack located within New York City limits. Its racing meets are usually from late October/early November through April. The racetrack is located adjacent to a casino called Resorts World New York City.

The track itself has three courses. The main track (dirt) has a circumference of 1+18 miles (1.8 km). Inside of the main track are two courses: the 1 mile (1.6 km) Main Turf Course, and the Inner Turf Course measuring 7.065 furlongs (1.421 km). The track has seating capacity of 17,000 and total capacity of 40,000.[3] The facility houses the headquarters of the New York Racing Association (NYRA).

In December 2022 the New York Racing Association formally announced its intention to upgrade the facilities at nearby Belmont Park to make it suitable to host year-round thoroughbred racing and training, which would ultimately lead to the closure of Aqueduct Racetrack, sometime in late 2026.[4]



Operating near the site of a former conduit of the Brooklyn Waterworks that brought water from eastern Long Island to the Ridgewood Reservoir, Aqueduct Racetrack opened on September 27, 1894, by the Queens County Jockey Club.[5][6] The track was named "Aqueduct" after the former Ridgewood Aqueduct.[7] The facility was expanded and a new clubhouse was constructed before the 1941 summer meet.[8]

In 1955, the Greater New York Association took over Aqueduct along with Belmont Park, Saratoga Race Course, and Jamaica Race Course, deciding to make major upgrades to Aqueduct, after which Jamaica Race Course would be sold for redevelopment as a housing project.[9][10][11] Aqueduct closed in 1956, reopening September 14, 1959, after $33 million of renovations designed by noted racetrack architect Arthur Froehlich of the firm Arthur Froehlich and Associates of Beverly Hills, California.[12][13] The Equestris Restaurant in the clubhouse opened in 1981 and was the largest restaurant in New York City at the time.[14][15] Additional renovations were made in 2001, 2006, and 2007.

Before 1976, the Inner Dirt Track was a turf course and was known as the Main Turf Course, with the present turf course being the Inner Turf Course; following the conclusion of racing in 1975 the grass on the Main Turf Course was uprooted and the Inner Dirt Track took its place to permit year-round racing. (In the years after Aqueduct was rebuilt in 1959 the track lay idle from early November until April 1; by 1971 this period had been reduced to from just before Christmas until March 1, around when off-track betting began in New York City, creating a demand for horse racing to be contested in the region year-round.)

Currently, one annual meeting is held at Aqueduct, usually from the last Wednesday in October until the first Sunday in May. Races had been run on the Inner Dirt Track between the Wednesday after Thanksgiving until just before the Wood Memorial in recent years. Prior to 1977, a summer meeting also was held at Aqueduct, from mid-June to late July. The Wood Memorial is Aqueduct's marquee race, which culminates the winter meet. The Remsen and Cigar Mile are major races that begin the winter meet. The prestigious Jockey Club Gold Cup was usually run there between 1958 and 1974, and what was perhaps the track's most distinctive race, the marathon 2+14 miles (3.6 km) Display Handicap, was last contested in 1990.

From 1963 through 1967, races normally run at Belmont Park, including the Belmont Stakes, were run at Aqueduct while Belmont's grandstand was being rebuilt. The track played host to the second ever Breeders' Cup on November 2, 1985.[16]

Aqueduct is the site of the first (and still the only) triple dead heat for the win in a stakes race. In the 1944 running of the Carter Handicap, Brownie, Bossuet, and Wait A Bit hit the finish line at the same time.[17] On April 8, 2006, during an eleven-race program at Aqueduct that included the Wood Memorial Stakes, a rare event happened when dead heats for each of the three "money" positions (Win, Place, and Show) occurred in three separate races: Saint Anddan and Criminal Mind dead-heated for Place in Race 5; Naragansett and Emotrin dead-heated for Show in Race 6; and Karakorum Tuxedo and Megatrend dead-heated for Win in Race 10.[18]

Spectators watching the finish of a race on Aqueduct's Main Track

Hall of Fame horse Cigar won the first two races in his 16-race win streak at Aqueduct. After he switched from grass to dirt, Cigar's first win was by eight lengths in an allowance race on October 28, 1994, and was followed by a seven-length win in the NYRA Mile on November 26, 1994, a Grade 1 race that was renamed in the horse's honor in 1997.[19][20][21] On May 31, 1965, 73,375 spectators were on hand at Aqueduct and watched Gun Bow win the Metropolitan Mile. At the time, it was the largest crowd to ever attend a thoroughbred horse racing event in New York.[22]

Champion racehorse Secretariat was retired at Aqueduct before the public on November 6, 1973. He was paraded for the last time to the public and took his last steps on a racetrack there.[23] He was then sent to stud at Claiborne Farm.

From 1978 to 2011, the Aqueduct Flea Market was held on Saturdays, Sundays, and Tuesdays, and was located in the racetrack's north parking lot along Rockaway Boulevard. The flea market contained over 500 vendors and offered a hodgepodge of goods, including bedding, incense, pots and pans, and other items.[24][25]

Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass in front of a crowd of 75,000 at Aqueduct on October 6, 1995.[26]

After the financial collapse and closure of the New York City Off-Track Betting Corporation on December 10, 2010, Aqueduct Racetrack saw an increase in patrons for the first time in several years. On December 11, one day after NYCOTB's closure, the number of patrons who entered Aqueduct's doors increased 61% (5,444 customers) compared to the previous year (3,378 customers).[27] The New York Racing Association, which owns Aqueduct, took advantage by offering former NYCOTB customers free bus shuttle service from select former NYCOTB branches to Aqueduct Racetrack with a free hot dog, soft drink, and Post Parade program.[28]

In May 2017, NYRA announced that they would resurface the 1⅛-mile main track with a limestone base, and convert the inner dirt track back into a turf course.[29] The changes were completed in time for the start of the 2017 fall meet on November 3.[30] With this change, the main track will now be used for winter racing.

Redevelopment efforts


2007 proposal to close track


In May 2007, reports indicated that then-New York Governor Eliot Spitzer was considering closing Aqueduct and selling the 192-acre (0.78 km2) track and its stables, which currently house 400 horses, to developers when the New York Racing Association lease expired at the end of 2007. According to the reports, Belmont Park, which is 8 miles (13 km) east in Elmont, New York, would have become a nearly year-round track and would get the video lottery machines authorized to operate at Aqueduct. Belmont Park would have been modified to handle winter requirements, which would have included heated stands and the construction of new stables. According to the plans that were discussed, the oldest and most historic track in the state, Saratoga Race Course, would have been operated by the New York Racing Association, and a new entity would have operated Belmont Park. Aqueduct traditionally has been considered a track frequented by blue collar fans while Belmont Park has a more upscale reputation.

State Assembly Member Audrey I. Pheffer (D), whose district included Aqueduct, fought the closing of the track, which she felt was important to the local community. Any closure at Aqueduct, which is equipped for the cold winter months, would have required millions of dollars in renovations at Belmont, a summer-only track. Belmont is also hampered by its north-oriented grandstand, which would cause shadows in the winter months. Belmont is one of few racecourses in the United States (Santa Anita Park and Thistledown Racecourse being the others) to be north-oriented. Most others are oriented either east or (rarely) west or south.[31] NYRA was planning to cease all operations after completing the racing card of February 10, 2008. This was averted when a deal was reached with NYRA and New York State.[32] To help raise capital, NYRA sold 325,000 square feet (30,200 m2) of vacant land near Aqueduct in June 2009. The land that was auctioned off consisted of residential lots to the west of the IND Rockaway Line.[33][34]

2012 proposal for convention center


On January 4, 2012, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the construction of a new convention center on the Aqueduct Racetrack to replace the aging Javits Center.[35] This would be the country's largest convention center, featuring hotels, restaurants, and expanded gambling.[36] Building the convention center would require additional land, which could include nearby City-owned lots leased to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for airport parking or the adjacent racetrack (as racing could be consolidated to Belmont Park).[37]

On June 1, 2012, Governor Cuomo announced that plans to build the convention center had been canceled.[38]

2023 proposal to close track


By 2022, the NYRA anticipated that it would shutter Aqueduct Racetrack in the future.[39] In early 2023, Governor Kathy Hochul announced that the state would provide $455 million in capital funds for the redevelopment of the Aqueduct Racetrack site, following a reconstruction of the racetrack at Belmont Park.[40][41] Once NYRA completes its renovation of Belmont Park, which is projected for late 2026, the agency plans to give up its lease of Aqueduct Racetrack and move all horse racing activities to Belmont Park.[42]

Resorts World New York City

Resorts World New York City
Location New York City (Jamaica, Queens), NY
Address 110-00 Rockaway Boulevard
Opening date2011
Total gaming space330,000-square-foot (31,000 m2)
OwnerGenting Malaysia Berhad[43]

Resorts World New York City is part of the Aqueduct Racetrack complex.[44] It was proposed in the late 2000s and opened in late 2011.[1] Aside from its being the first legal casino in New York City, it is the only casino located in the five boroughs and the only casino besides Empire City Casino and Jake's 58 in Islandia in the New York City region. It was also the first Resorts World to be built in America.



The casino features four automated table games: baccarat, blackjack, craps, and roulette in addition to a wide array of video slot machines. Baccarat is played with real playing cards, but they are dealt inside a machine without any human dealers.



The New York State Legislature legalized video gambling devices at racetracks in 2001. However, the opening of a racino at the track hit various problems. Video lottery terminals similar to slot machines were approved at five locations, including Aqueduct, Finger Lakes Race Track, Monticello Raceway, Vernon Downs, and Yonkers Raceway. The revenue would be divided between the racetracks and the State and would allow tracks to increase purses and to attract better quality horses in races.[45]

In 2007, the State issued a request for proposals to operate the video lottery terminals at Aqueduct. Among the bids received was a $2 billion proposal by the Shinnecock Indian Nation to open a casino at the track. The proposal was in conjunction with Marian Ilitch, a co-owner of the Detroit Red Wings. The proposal according to most sources was dead on arrival since, even if the Shinnecocks received official Bureau of Indian Affairs recognition as a tribe, the Aqueduct Casino would still have to be approved by the New York State Legislature and the Bureau of Indian Affairs; and Aqueduct would have to first be taken into trust by the Department of Interior, as the Shinnecocks historically had not owned property in Queens.[46] In October 2008, the State selected the Delaware North as the winning bidder among three proposals to build a racino at Aqueduct. The 330,000-square-foot (31,000 m2) facility would include 4,500 slot machines.[47] However, these plans fell apart in March 2009 when the developer was unable to make a $370 million upfront payment to the State.[48]

Grandstand at Aqueduct Racetrack and site of the future casino

In July 2009, seven companies submitted bids to develop a racino at Aqueduct: Aqueduct Entertainment Group, Delaware North, MGM Mirage, Mohegan Sun, Penn National Gaming, SL Green Realty, and Wynn Resorts. Some developers indicated that a portion of the slot machines could open as early as April 2010. However, the selection of an operator for the casino was delayed for several months because State officials frequently changed the rules and could not reach an agreement on the winning bidder, prompting Wynn to pull out of the running in November.[49][50][51] On January 29, 2010, Governor David Paterson announced that the Aqueduct Entertainment Group would run the casino.[52]

Aqueduct Entertainment Group partners included GreenStar Services Corporation, Turner Construction Company, Levine Builders, The Darman Group, Empowerment Development Corporation, Navegante Group, PS&S Design, Siemens AG, and Clairvest Group.[53] The appointment generated controversy because of charges that AEG, which had the worst initial bid of those bidding, was allowed to change its bid so that it had the best. Paterson was reported to have demanded that the ownership of an affirmative action component. During this time rapper Jay-Z, through his company Gain Global Investments Network LLC, then got a 7% ownership of AEG; and charges were made that Jay-Z and Paterson had a personal relationship. U.S. prosecutors investigated the bidding process, particularly in light of the fact that AEG won the bid two days after Queens megachurch pastor Floyd Flake (who is also an AEG investor) threatened to switch his support in the 2010 governor race from Paterson to Andrew Cuomo. New York house speaker Sheldon Silver also threatened not to sign off on the deal. Paterson maintained there was no quid pro quo.[54][55] On March 9, 2010, Paterson, Flake, and Jay-Z withdrew from further involvement. Paterson said he was recusing himself on the advice of his lawyers. Flake, who had 0.6% share, said the case was distracting from his other projects.[56][57] On March 11, 2010, the State withdrew its support for the AEG bid and announced that a new group would be selected through an "expedited, transparent, apolitical, and publicly accountable process."[58] Aqueduct Entertainment Group said it intended to sue.[59]

On June 2, 2010, New York Lottery officials announced that six groups were considering submitting bids to develop the racino. These include three of the previous bidders (Delaware North, Penn National Gaming, and SL Green Realty) and three new groups (Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway, Genting New York LLC, and Clairvest Group). On June 29, three of the firms submitted bids: SL Green/Hard Rock Cafe, Genting Group, and Penn National. Clairvest participated in the SL Green/Hard Rock Cafe bid.[60]

The bids from Penn and SL Green were disqualified in July for not meeting requirements.[59] On August 3, 2010, Lottery officials announced they had accepted Genting Group's $380 million upfront licensing fee bid, which was $55 million more than the closest competing bid. Its business model includes targeting flyers stranded at John F. Kennedy Airport. The company said its plans involve 1,200 construction jobs and 800 permanent jobs, and that it will bring the state $500 million a year in revenue.[59] Genting opened the Resorts World Casino New York City on October 28, 2011, with 2,280 gaming terminals.[61]

The casino opened in late 2011.[1] In August 2021, a Hyatt Regency hotel opened on the site of the casino. It is owned by Genting Group, which also owns Resorts World.[62]

Track announcers


Sportscaster Tom Durkin was the chief track announcer at Aqueduct and the other NYRA tracks until his retirement on August 31, 2014. Races were called by John Imbriale until 2023 and since then races have been called by Chris Griffin.[63]



The following graded stakes will run at Aqueduct in 2022:

Horses approach the finish line in the 2012 Wood Memorial Stakes.

Grade I:

Grade II:

Grade III:



View of Aqueduct Racetrack from the Aqueduct–North Conduit Avenue subway station

The track has its own New York City Subway station, Aqueduct Racetrack, served by the IND Rockaway Line (A train). It has only one platform on the Brooklyn-bound side, requiring southbound travelers to transfer to a northbound train at Aqueduct–North Conduit Avenue station, which is located a few blocks to the south.[64] NYRA also operates a free shuttle bus between the North Conduit Avenue station and the Clubhouse entrance.

The Q37 bus route serves Aqueduct Racetrack and was rerouted in 2011 to serve the casino.[65] The Q7, Q11 and Q41 bus routes also pass nearby.[66]


See also



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  2. ^ Belmont Park TV Schedule
  3. ^ "Aqueduct General Information". New York Racing Association. Archived from the original on January 30, 2013. Retrieved April 21, 2012.
  4. ^ Chu, Haidee (September 14, 2023). "Horses Return to Aqueduct as Homestretch Nears for City's Only Racetrack". THE CITY - NYC News. Retrieved July 14, 2024.
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  6. ^ Gray, Christopher (October 1, 1989). "Millburn Pumping Station; A Rundown 'Abbey' Gets New Life as Condominiums". The New York Times. Retrieved October 11, 2009.
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  9. ^ Nichols, Joseph C. (October 5, 1955). "New Track Group Takes Over Today". The New York Times. Retrieved October 11, 2009.
  10. ^ Nichols, Joseph C. (June 27, 1956). "Track to Handle Crowds of 60,000". The New York Times. Retrieved October 11, 2009.
  11. ^ Bigart, Homer (October 5, 1956). "Moses Plans Deal on Jamaica Track". The New York Times. Retrieved October 11, 2009.
  12. ^ Nichols, Joseph C. (September 15, 1959). "New Aqueduct Track Is Opened". The New York Times. Retrieved October 11, 2009.
  13. ^ Bernstein, Irving (September 10, 1959). "The $2 Window". The Leader. Freeport, NY. p. 4. Retrieved April 17, 2012. When the bugle sounds for the first race at Aqueduct Sept. 14, one of New York's major tourist attractions will herald a blending of history and progress.
  14. ^ Crist, Steven (October 14, 1981). "Aqueduct's Eye on the Affluent". The New York Times. Retrieved October 11, 2009.
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  43. ^ "About the Casino". Resorts World Casino.
  44. ^ "Resorts World Casino, New York City". nycgo.com.
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40°40′20″N 73°49′47″W / 40.67222°N 73.82972°W / 40.67222; -73.82972