NYRA Beefs Up Travers Day Schedule

by | 12.27.2014 | 11:19am
Saratoga's annual meet gets underway Friday, July 24

Two of the biggest days in North American racing will highlight the historic 147th meet at Saratoga Race Course this summer, with the Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers the centerpiece of a supercharged Travers Day and the Grade 1, $1.25 million Whitney anchoring five stakes on Whitney Festival Day, Saturday, August 8.

The 40-day meet, which includes 69 stakes worth a record $18.7 million in purses, will run from Friday, July 24, through Labor Day, Monday, September 7. After opening weekend, racing will be conducted six days a week, Wednesdays through Mondays.

Joining the 146th running of the Mid-Summer Derby for 3-year-olds on Saturday, August 29 will be five other Grade 1 stakes, including the 1 ½-mile Sword Dancer Invitational on the turf, whose purse has been enhanced to $1 million. Also added to the card and receiving purse hikes are the $750,000, 1 1/8-mile Personal Ensign for fillies and mares and the $700,000 Forego at seven furlongs. Rounding out the stellar card are the $500,000 Ballerina for fillies and mares and the $500,000 King's Bishop, both at seven furlongs, and the Grade 2, $400,000 Ballston Spa for turf fillies and mares.

“We have made improvements to Travers Day to keep in line with the creation of our 'must-see' events,” said Martin Panza, Senior Vice President of Racing Operations for the New York Racing Association. “We are developing Travers Day into a national event – a mini Breeders' Cup – by increasing the purses for the Personal Ensign and the Forego. By including the Sword Dancer and raising the purse to $1 million we hope to create international involvement in that race.”

Additions to the Spa stakes schedule include the Grade 2, $250,000 Bowling Green at 1 3/8 miles on the turf on Saturday, August 1, which will serve as a prep for the Sword Dancer, and two new juvenile turf stakes at 5 1/2 furlongs: the $100,000 Bolton Landing for fillies on Wednesday, August 19, and the $100,000 Schenectady on Friday, August 21.

“Both of these 2-year-old turf stakes were created with a look ahead to the Breeders' Cup,” said Panza.

A prelude to the Travers will be New York Breeders' Showcase Day, which will be moved to Friday, August 28, instead of on Sunday. The popular state-bred card will include six stakes, highlighted by the $250,000 Albany for 3-year-olds going 1 1/8 miles.

Opening Day, Friday, July 24 will kick off with a pair of graded stakes: the Grade 3, $150,000 Schuylerville for 2-year-old fillies and the Grade 3, $200,000 Lake George for 3-year-old turf fillies. Continuing the traditional juvenile dirt stakes are the Grade 3, $150,000 Sanford on Saturday, July 25; the Grade 2, $200,000 Toyota Saratoga Special on Sunday, August 16 and the Grade 1, $350,000 Hopeful on Monday, September 7, along with their sister races: the Grade 2, $200,000 Adirondack on Saturday, August 15 and the Grade 1, $350,000 Spinaway on Saturday, September 5.

Grade 1 action commences with the $500,000 TVG Diana for turf fillies and mares on Saturday, July 25, and the $300,000 Coaching Club American Oaks for 3-year-old fillies on Sunday, July 26. Continuing the world-class Grade 1 offerings are the $350,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap for sprinters on Saturday, August 1; the aforementioned Whitney and Test on August 8; the Grade 1, $600,000 Alabama on Saturday, August 22, and the Travers, Sword Dancer, Personal Ensign, Forego, Ballerina and King's Bishop on Saturday, August 29.

Closing weekend Grade 1 features include the $600,000 Woodward for 3-year-olds and up and the Spinaway on Saturday, September 5, along with the Hopeful on Monday, September 7.

The prestigious 1 1/8-mile Whitney will pair with the Grade 1, $500,000 Test for 3-year-old fillies atop the festival card, which also offers the Grade 3, $200,000 Fasig-Tipton Waya for turf fillies and mares going 1 1/2 miles. Also on August 8 are two additional turf stakes: the $100,000 Lure at 1 1/16 miles and the $100,000 Fasig-Tipton De La Rose at a mile for fillies and mares.

The traditional local prep for the Travers, the Grade 2, $600,000 Jim Dandy, will be held on Saturday, August 1.

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