At retooled Belmont, stars align for Triple Crown

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California Chrome, ridden by jockey Victor Espinoza, wins the 139th Preakness Stakes horse race at Pimlico Race Course, Saturday, May 17, 2014, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

California Chrome, ridden by jockey Victor Espinoza, wins the 139th Preakness Stakes horse race at Pimlico Race Course, Saturday, May 17, 2014, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

NEW YORK (AP) – Belmont Stakes officials say the possibility of the first Triple Crown winner in 36 years comes as they’re unveiling a new program designed to attract fans even when history isn’t on the line.

Racing operations director Martin Panza says Saturday’s marquee race caps a day of high-stakes horse racing and well-known entertainment including LL Cool J.

Officials say ticket sales were brisk before California Chrome became the 12th horse since 1978 to enter Belmont with wins in the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes.

Now they could approach records.

Having a Triple Crown contender in the field means an average of 30,000 more fans, millions more in wagering and about 1,000 additional workers.

Local officials report area hotels are selling out and businesses are seeing a tourism bump.

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