Excited, orderly crowd leaves Belmont after Pharoah win

AP News
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Posted: Jun 06, 2015 10:56 PM
Excited, orderly crowd leaves Belmont after Pharoah win

NEW YORK (AP) — Fans who witnessed American Pharoah's historic Triple Crown championship left Belmont Park on Saturday without major traffic jams, backups or overcrowded platforms.

After more than 100,000 fans last year suffered through long lines on trains and at betting windows and bathrooms, officials capped the number of tickets at 90,000 this year, planned a post-race concert to keep attendees at the racetrack and added longer, 10-car trains to transport spectators home.

The crowd-management measures paid off.

"This year was a lot easier to deal with," said Mark Pappin of Manhattan, who said limiting the crowd size to 90,000 was a smart idea. "I thought it was a great time."

As jubilant fans hugged one another and snapped photos after the bay colt captured one of sport's most elusive wins, the Goo Goo Dolls performed a post-race concert in the effort to ease the crunch. Those who decided to leave waited about 20 minutes in well-organized, orderly lines.

"We haven't really experienced any issues," said Colt Bogizian, as he boarded a Long Island Rail Road train for Manhattan. "So far, so good."

The racing association hired former FBI official George Venizelos as head of security and no tickets were sold Saturday; signs at the front of the park told fans no tickets were left.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority spent $4 million and the New York Racing Association added $1 million to renovate the Belmont Park LIRR station and an access ramp leading to the racetrack following loud complaints a year ago about the long delays.

LIRR President Patrick Nowakoski said Saturday night that 25,583 customers were taken to-and-from the race faster than ever before, loading 20,000 onto trains within 90 minutes after the race ended.

"We moved customers more than twice as fast as we did in 2014," he said.

Deputy Inspector Garry Shapiro of the Nassau County Police Department said traffic was flowing on the parkways and the Hempstead Turnpike.

"Everything appears to be going well," he said.