As the horseracing world gears up for the Belmont Stakes, the third leg of the Triple Crown, Centerplate, which operates foodservice for Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y., is gearing up to feed a capacity crowd of 90,000 spectators eager to see if American Pharaoh will be the first horse in 37 years to win all three of the races.
Peter Matra, regional vice president for Centerplate who oversees foodservice at Belmont Park and other properties in the region, said the racetrack normally has 1,500 to 3,000 spectators during weekday races and up to 6,000 on weekends.
“We’re going from maybe 5 percent capacity to maybe 125 percent capacity,” Matra said. “It’s a massive undertaking.”
Planning has been underway for more than a year, with weekly meetings with management staff. Matra knew there would be a full house even before American Pharaoh won the Preakness Stakes, the second leg of the Triple Crown, on May 16.
“We knew what the capacity was going to be going into it. There really wasn’t anything new,” he said.
Matra has staffed up, with 1,300 employees and about 80 visiting managers and chefs from around the country who were flown in for the week. The stadium’s 125 sale locations and more than 600 points of sale will be up and running Saturday, offering food overseen by Anelise Miller, better known as Chef Bell.
Menu items range from New York staples, such as boiled hot dogs, soft pretzels, sausage and peppers, New York City style pizza, cheesesteaks and hamburgers, to fare that reflects New York’s culinary heritage and uses ingredients from nearby cheese makers and other local producers.
See what’s on the menu for the Belmont Stakes above.
This story has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: May 8, 2015 An earlier version of this story misspelled Peter Matra's last name.