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Queens: Winner’s Circle for sports fans

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Mets players stand on the first base line as "The Star Spangled Banner" is sung at last year's opening day. This year Opening Day is scheduled for April 1. Photo by Christina Santucci
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Ruler on Ice (l.) ridden by jockey Jose Valdivia Jr., beats Stay Thirsty, which is owned by Queens native Mike Repole, to win the 143rd Belmont Stakes in 2011. Ruler on Ice's odds of winning the race had been listed as 24-1 before the race. Photo by Christina Santucci
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Citi Field, where the Mets play their home games, is slated to host the 2013 All Star Game. Photo by Christina Santucci
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Tennis champ Andy Murray kisses his championship trophy after winning the men's final of the US Open. Photo by Christina Santucci
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Serena Williams jumps in the air following her US Open championship win last year. Photo by Christina Santucci
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Lindsay Hall wears a unicorn on her hat to the Belmont Stakes. The annual horse race, which is the third leg of the triple crown, draws attendees for both the sport and the atmosphere. Photo by Christina Santucci

Many people already know that Queens is one of the most diverse places on earth with a vast array of people, culture and cuisine.

But some might be surprised to learn that the borough is also a world-class destination for major sporting events and this year is no exception as Queens’ plays host to Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game, The Belmont Stakes and the US Open, among many others.

This year’s 2013 All-Star Game, set for July 16 at Citi Field, will be the first time the city has hosted the event since 2008 and the first time the Mets have had the game since 1964, which was the team’s first season at the old Shea Stadium.

In addition to showcasing baseball’s best players, the Mets will also play host to MLB’s All-Star events at Citi Field, including the Home Run Derby, the All-Star Futures game and many other community-oriented events.

Citi Field opened in 2009, taking in nearly 1.2 million total square feet with a maximum capacity of 41,922 fans. The stadium is a stone’s throw from the Citi Field-Willets Point stop on the No. 7 line.

For information on how to purchase tickets or for more information on the game, call the Mets Ticket Office at 718-507-TIXX (8499) or visit www.mets.com.

Tennis fans won’t want to miss the 2013 US Open Tennis Championships which will be held at The USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows Corona Park from Aug. 26 – Sept. 9. The annual two-week tournament, long regarded as one of the premier sporting events in the world, routinely brings thousands of visitors, including players and media outlets, to the borough.

At last year’s tournament, Andy Murray beat Novak Djokovic in a thrilling five-set match for his first Grand Slam Title. In the Ladies’ division, fierce competitor Serena Williams defeated No. 1 seed Victoria Azarenka for the title in a tense three-set match.

Players compete in various events including Men’s Singles, Men’s Doubles, Women’s Singles, Women’s Doubles, and Mixed Doubles. In addition, there are numerous special events surrounding the tournament including Arthur Ashe Kid’s Day, Qualifying Tournament, Open Practice Day and others.

Tickets are scheduled to go on sale to the public in early June. For tickets or general information on the tournament, visit www.usta.org.

For any fan of professional horse racing, the annual Belmont Stakes Race at Belmont Park on the Elmont/Floral Park border is a must-attend event. The track is 1.5 miles long and the park has a total capacity approaching 90,000 race fans.

This year’s Belmont Stakes, the final and most demanding leg of the Triple Crown, will be held on June 8. In the history of the Belmont, 26 horses have been eligible to win the Triple Crown but only 11 have succeeded. Racing has not had a Triple Crown winner since 1978, when Affirmed swept the three-race series.

According to Belmontstakesinfo.com, the race was first held in 1866 and is the oldest of the Triple Crown races, named after August Belmont, Sr., who was a financier in the early part of the 19th century.

The race originated at Jerome Park in the Bronx and was later moved to Morris Park until Belmont Park was constructed.

For information on the race or to purchase tickets, visit www.Belmont-stakes.info.

Those who prefer to be actively involved in their sporting events might want to check out the annual New York City Marathon, which now features more than 35,000 athletes, thousands of volunteers and around 2 million spectators.

The 26.2-mile course cuts through all five boroughs of New York City beginning in Staten Island and ending in Manhattan. This year, the race will be held on Sunday, Nov. 3.

The marathon was first held in 1970 when just 55 racers completed the entire course.

For information or to register for the race, call 212.423.2249 or visit www.ingnycmarathon.org.

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