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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