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NYRA Announces Rich Stakes Schedule for Belmont & Saratoga

New York Racing Association LogoThe Belmont Stakes Racing Festival and Stars & Stripes Day during the spring/summer meet at Belmont Park and the Whitney and Travers Stakes days at Saratoga Race Course highlight the stakes calendar unveiled by the New York Racing Association.

June 11 the centerpiece of the three-day Belmont Stakes Racing Festival, Stars & Stripes Day set for July 9 and Whitney Day and Travers Day offering a pair of blockbuster, must-see cards on August 6 and August 27 at the Spa.

The Belmont meet that opens Friday, April 29, is highlighted the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival, with 19 stakes worth nearly $10 million, featuring the "Test of the Champion" on June 11. The 1 1/2-mile Belmont will be supported by eight additional graded stakes on the card, including the $1 million Manhattan at 1 1/4 miles on turf, the $1.25 million Metropolitan Handicap at a mile and the $1 million Ogden Phipps for fillies and mares going 1 1/16 miles. The $700,000 Longines Just a Game for turf fillies and mares and the $700,000 Acorn for 3-year-old fillies complete a quintet of prestigious grade I races on the day.

Also on June 11 will be the grade II, $500,000 Woody Stephens for 3-year-olds going seven furlongs; the grade II, $400,000 Brooklyn Invitational for 4-year-olds and up going 1 1/2 miles; the grade III, $300,000 Jaipur Invitational for turf sprinters 4-years-old and up, and the $150,000, 1 1/16-mile Easy Goer for sophomores.

The Belmont Stakes post position draw is scheduled for Wednesday, June 8 at Rockefeller Center in Manhattan and the following day the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival will kick off with the $150,000 Intercontinental for turf fillies and mares going seven furlongs, the $200,000 Astoria for 2-year-old fillies at 5 1/2 furlongs and the inaugural edition of the $200,000 Belmont Coronation Invitational for fillies and mares 4-years-old and up going 1 15/16 miles on the turf.

The BSRF continues Friday, June 10 with six more stakes, topped by the grade II New York for turf fillies and mares at 1 1/4 miles, which boasts a purse increase to $500,000, and the grade II, $250,000 True North for older sprinters. Supporting the graded stakes are the $300,000 Belmont Gold Cup Invitational at two miles on the turf, the $150,000 Rags to Riches Invitational for older fillies and mares going 1 1/2 miles, the $200,000 Tremont for 2-year-olds and the $150,000 Jersey Girl for 3-year-old filly sprinters.

The Stars & Stripes Festival on Saturday, July 9, will once again feature a pair of prestigious grade I races on the turf for 3-year-olds in the $1.25 million Belmont Derby and the $1 million Belmont Oaks for fillies, both at 1 1/4 miles.

Four additional graded stakes round out the card, comprising the grade III, $400,000 Belmont Sprint Championship,  the grade III, $150,000 Victory Ride for 3-year-old fillies going 6 1/2 furlongs, the grade III, $500,000 Dwyer for 3-year-olds at a mile, and the grade II, $500,000 Suburban Handicap at 1 1/4 miles.

"We continue to build out the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival and look forward to expanding the international aspect of Stars & Stripes Day, which continues to grow in popularity among our horsemen and our fans," said Martin Panza, NYRA senior vice president of racing operations.   

The momentum continues into the 40-day Saratoga meet, which will offer 69 stakes--37 of them graded--worth a record $18.725 million.

The 147th running of the grade I, $1.25 million Travers on Aug. 27 will be five other grade I stakes, including the $1 million Longines Sword Dancer Invitational on the turf, the $750,000 Personal Ensign for fillies and mares, the $700,000 Priority One Forego at seven furlongs, the $500,000 Ballerina for fillies and mares at seven furlongs, and the $500,000 King's Bishop for 3-year-olds, also at seven furlongs. Completing the day's stakes offerings will be the grade II, $400,000 Ketel One Ballston Spa for turf fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles. 

On Aug. 6, the grade I, $1.25 million Whitney at 1 1/8 miles will be joined by the grade I, $500,000 Test at seven furlongs for 3-year-old fillies and the grade III, $200,000 Fasig-Tipton Waya for fillies and mares going 1 1/2 miles on the turf. Rounding out the day's stakes action will be a pair of $100,000 stakes in the Lure, at 1 1/16 miles on the turf, and the Fasig-Tipton De La Rose for fillies and mares going a mile on the turf.

"The success and popularity last year of the enhanced Whitney Day and Travers Day cards speak for themselves," said Panza. "Every day at Saratoga is a special one but we anticipate that these two 'must-see' days will continue to strengthen and shine a national spotlight on the best race meet in the country."

The stakes offerings begin on Belmont Park's opening day, Friday, April 29, with the $100,000 Affirmed Success for New York-breds going six furlongs. Graded stakes action gets underway on Kentucky Derby Day, Saturday, May 7 with the grade III, $150,000 Westchester at a mile, the grade III, $150,000 Fort Marcy for 4-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles on the turf and the grade II, $200,000 Sheepshead Bay for older fillies and mares going 1 3/8 miles on the turf.

The first grade I event of the meet is the $400,000 Man o' War at 1 3/8 miles on the turf, the highlight of a May 14 card that includes the grade II, $250,000 Ruffian Handicap at a mile for older fillies and mares, the grade II, $200,000 Peter Pan for 3-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles, and the grade III, $150,000 Beaugay for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on the turf.

Memorial Day, Monday, May 30 will again be the spring edition of New York Showcase Day for New York-breds, offering six stakes worth $900,000, highlighted by the $200,000 Commentator at a mile.

The grade I, $300,000 Mother Goose at 1 1/16 miles will be held Saturday, July 2 and the meet will wrap up with the $125,000 Lynbrook for 2-year-old fillies on closing day, July 17.

Opening weekend at Saratoga will feature the grade III, $150,000 Schuylerville for 2-year-old fillies and the grade II, $200,000 Lake George for 3-year-old turf fillies on Friday, July 22, with the grade I, $500,000 Diana for turf fillies and mares and the grade III Sanford for 2-year-olds the highlights of Saturday's card. Sunday will offer the second grade I of the meet, the $300,000 Coaching Club American Oaks for 3-year-old fillies.

Grade I action continues on Saturday, July 30, with the $350,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt anchoring a card that also features the traditional prep for the Travers, the grade II, $600,000 Jim Dandy for 3-year-olds.

Saturday, Aug. 13, is the grade I, $500,000 Fourstardave Handicap with the grade I, $600,000 Alabama a week later serving as the marquee event on Saturday, Aug. 20.

The summer edition of New York Showcase Day on Friday, Aug. 26, will serve as a preamble to Travers Day and the meet wraps on Labor Day weekend, with Saturday, Sept. 3 featuring the grade I, $600,000 Woodward, the grade I, $350,000 Spinaway, and a pair of grade III turf races in the $300,000 Saranac for 3-year-olds and the $200,000 Glens Falls for turf fillies and mares. Sunday's headline event is the grade II, $300,000 Prioress for 3-year-old filly sprinters and the traditional closing day features will be the grade I, $350,000 Hopeful for 2-year-olds and the grade II, $250,000 Bernard Baruch Handicap on the turf.

-from www.bloodhorse.com

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