by NYRA Press Office
Aqueduct Racetrack's winter and spring meets will feature a total of 52 stakes worth more than $7.3 million in purses, highlighted by the Big A's traditional spring showcase, the Grade 2, $750,000 Wood Memorial on Saturday, April 6.
The 2019 winter meet will be buoyed by the addition of one new stakes event, the $100,000 Bernardini at 1 5/16 miles on the main track for 4-year-olds and upward, which is slated for March 2. Named in honor of the Darley Stable homebred who was named Eclipse Award champion 3-year-old in 2006 for trainer Tom Albertrani, Bernardini reeled off a streak of six straight wins, including Grade 1 scores in the Preakness at Pimlico, the Travers at Saratoga Race Course and the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park.
Purse increases will be recognized in the $250,000 Busher Invitational for sophomore fillies, up $50,000 from a year ago, while the New York Stallion Series Times Square Division and Park Avenue Division will each double to $200,000, to close out stakes racing for the spring meet at the Big A on April 20.
New York's "Road to the Kentucky Derby" kicks off on Saturday with the Grade 2 Remsen, as part of the Cigar Mile card, and will continue into the Aqueduct winter meet, which begins on December 7, with the Grade 3, $150,000 Jerome contested at one mile on New Year's Day, followed on February 2 by the Grade 3, $250,000 Withers at 1 1/8 miles, each worth 10-4-2-1 points to the top four finishers towards a spot in the Derby on May 4 at Churchill Downs.
The Derby prep season will heat up the following month with the Grade 3, $300,000 Gotham (50-20-10-5 points) at a mile on March 9 as a precursor to the 1 1/8-mile Wood Memorial (100-40-20-10 points), which anchors an outstanding day of thoroughbred racing.
One of five graded stakes on the April 6 card, the Wood Memorial will be joined by the 119th running of the Grade 1, $400,000 Carter Handicap for 4-year-olds and up at seven furlongs; the Grade 2, $300,000 Gazelle for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles, the final Aqueduct prep for the Kentucky Oaks; the Grade 3, $250,000 Bay Shore for sophomore sprinters; and the Grade 3, $150,000 Excelsior for older horses at 1 1/8 miles.
Turf stakes return on Wood Memorial weekend with the fourth running of the $100,000 Danger's Hour for 4-year-olds and up at a mile on the grass on Sunday, April 7.
Live racing moves to Belmont Park on Friday, April 26.
Visit https://www.nyra.com/aqueduct/racing/stakes-schedu... to view the entire stakes calendar for the Aqueduct winter and spring meets.