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Horse racing-Belmont Park live racing called off due to poor air quality

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By Amy Tennery

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The New York Racing Association (NYRA) cancelled live racing at Belmont Park on Thursday, two days before the venue is due to host the third leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown, citing poor air quality conditions.

A smoky haze billowed over a large swathe of the United States as Canada fought against hundreds of blazes in the country’s worst-ever start to wildfire season in which thousands of people have been forced out of their homes.

Health officials warned millions of U.S. residents that time spent outdoors could cause respiratory issues as air quality alerts were issued from New England down to South Carolina.

Belmont Park had cancelled morning training on Thursday and said it expected to resume live racing on Friday, with the Belmont Stakes set for Saturday.

“Safety is paramount as we navigate this unprecedented situation,” New York Racing Association (NYRA) President and CEO David O’Rourke said in a statement.

“Based on current forecast models and consultation with our external weather services, we remain optimistic that we will see an improvement in air quality on Friday.”

A Washington Nationals home game against Arizona Diamondbacks, which had been scheduled to kick off at 1:05 pm ET on Thursday, was also postponed. Major League Baseball (MLB) said the game would be rescheduled for June 22.

A day earlier, MLB postponed games in Philadelphia between the Detroit Tigers and the Phillies and in New York between the Chicago White Sox and the Yankees.

Conditions also forced the National Women’s Soccer League and Women’s National Basketball Association to call off Wednesday games in New Jersey and New York.

(Reporting by Amy Tennery in New York, editing by Ed Osmond)

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