It's a little like being witness to a Super Bowl, or the seventh game of a World Series.
Only, the outcome is decided in just under 2 1/2 minutes by magnificent animals and their skilled jockeys. And you don't need to know somebody who knows somebody to get a ticket.
Saturday's 144th running of the Belmont Stakes pits a 3-year-old thoroughbred named "I'll Have Another" against 10 or 11 rivals in a race that could gain the colt racing immortality. On a day that the Mets and Yankees will play a Subway Series game in the Bronx, New York's most famous athlete may have four legs.
With a victory Saturday, the winner of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in May now has a chance to win horse racing's coveted Triple Crown. Since 1919, there have been 11 Triple Crown winners.
No racehorse has achieved the milestone in 34 years, since Affirmed edged Alydar at the wire in 1978. Since that storied race at nearby Belmont Park in Elmont, 11 colts attempted the feat only to fall short.
The super-hype began Wednesday with the post-position draw.
As of Tuesday, some reserved seats were still available at the racetrack from 11:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m., subject to availability and through Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000 or www.ticketmaster.com. Or try Stubhub.
Here are 10 things you should know about this opportunity to witness history.
1. Even if you can't get reserved seats, you can get into the track on race day. Admission on Belmont day is $10. There are thousands of park benches and an entire picnic area filled with food tents and even betting windows behind the track.
2. Prepare to party. Belmont day has gotten wilder as the years have progressed and the crowds have grown enormous. When a Triple Crown is on the line, the track expects close to 100,000 people to attend. It's rowdy, but safe. There are cops everywhere.
3. If you're not a gambler, it's easy to learn how. The minimum wager is $1. If you want a primer on horserace gambling, there's one in the front of the program. On Belmont Day, hundreds of additional employees are hired to be helpful to the amateurs, including tellers. If you keep it simple, you won't have any problem.
4. Go early. If you want a bench, get inside the track before 11 a.m. if you want a shot. To hold a bench, weave a newspaper through the slats in the seat. The tradition is usually honored by racegoers.
5. If you take a cooler, it's only allowed in the picnic area behind the track, not inside the grandstand or on the tarmac in front of the rail. Alcohol (beer, too) can't be brought into the track, and security checks. But, alcohol is available for sale throughout the track at concession stands, from vendors and at several bars around the track.
6. Smoking is OK on the tarmac and in the picnic area.
7. Dress is casual in the grandstand, but you need a shirt and shoes. This is decidely not the Kentucky Derby (it's not trying to be) and ladies need not wear fancy hats. Although you can if you want to.
8. The first race goes off about 11:40 a.m. Saturday. The featured race isn't scheduled until around 6:30 p.m., the 11th race on a 13-race card.
9. Getting to the track is really easy from Nassau or Queens. Take the Grand Central or the Southern State toward the Cross Island Parkway. Go South on the Cross Island from the Grand Central, or north from the Southern State. The track has it's own entrance ramp. You park along the backstretch and buses take you right to the gate. Parking is $10.
10. Full disclosure: I'm going; I've seen most of the Belmont Stakes races since 1977. If you're going, come by and say hi. I'll be there, right at the 8th pole, Section aa - level 2. If you have questions before then, leave a comment. I'll try to answer them all.