In his massive hit [artist id="1269"]Jay-Z[/artist] raps that he’s “the new Sinatra.” And it turns out he wasn’t joking.
During Saturday’s 142nd running of the Belmont Stakes, “Empire” will be played as the horses are brought out onto the race track, replacing Sinatra’s classic “New York, New York,” according to a spokesperson for the New York Racing Association.
“[It's] the quintessential 21st century theme song for New York City,” an NYRA official told The Associated Press.
A spokesperson for the NYRA confirmed the change to MTV News.
“New York, New York,” (or, as it’s actually called, “Theme From ‘New York, New York,’ “) is most closely associated with Sinatra, though it was actually written for — and first recorded by — Liza Minnelli for the 1977 Martin Scorsese film of the same name. Sinatra recorded it for his 1980 album Trilogy: Past, Present And Future, and it became the last of his many signature numbers.
Sinatra’s version has been played as the field for the Belmont Stakes makes its way to the starting gate since 1997. Before that, the vaudeville tune “Sidewalks of New York” was the event’s main song. At Saturday’s race — which is held at Belmont Park on Long Island — teen singer Jasmine Villegas will perform the Alicia Keys portion of “Empire,” according to a spokesperson from the NYRA.
Of course, this isn’t the first time the song has been performed at a sporting event. “Empire” became the unofficial theme song of the New York Yankees’ World Series run last year, with Jay-Z and Alicia Keys doing a version of the tune during Game Two of the Series. Later, Jigga did another take of the song during the Yankees’ championship celebration in Manhattan.