by NYRA Press Office
Enhanced Man o’ War Stakes Festival set for Saturday, May 12
The New York Racing Association today released its stakes schedule for the 2018 spring/summer meet at Belmont Park, featuring 62 stakes races worth $19.3 million throughout the course of the 54-day meet.
Live racing will commence at Belmont Park on Friday, April 27 and is anchored by the 150th running of the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes on Saturday, June 9.
The oldest and longest leg of racing's vaunted Triple Crown will serve as the centerpiece of the three-day Belmont Stakes Racing Festival, from June 7-9, that comprises 18 stakes worth more than $9.4 million.
The 1 ½-mile Belmont Stakes – the coveted final jewel of racing’s Triple Crown – will bring down the curtain on three days of world-class racing. The “Test of the Champion” will be supported by eight additional graded stakes on Saturday, including five prestigious Grade 1's: the $1.2 million Runhappy Metropolitan Handicap at a mile; the $1 million Woodford Reserve Manhattan at 1 ¼ miles on the turf; the $750,000 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 at a mile.
Contributing to the stellar Belmont Stakes Day undercard will be the Grade 2, $400,000 Woody Stephens presented by Mohegan Sun for 3-year-olds at seven furlongs, the Grade 2, $400,000 Brooklyn Invitational for 4-year-olds and up going 1 ½ miles, the Grade 2, $400,000 Jaipur Invitational for turf sprinters 4-years-old and up at six furlongs and the $150,000, 1 1/16-mile Easy Goer for sophomores.
The Belmont Stakes Racing Festival will kick off June 7 with a trio of stakes for fillies and mares: the Grade 3, $200,000 Intercontinental for turf fillies and mares going seven furlongs; the Grade 3, $200,000 Wonder Again for sophomores at 1 1/8 miles on the grass; as well as the $150,000 Astoria for 2-year-olds going 5 ½ furlongs.
The BSRF continues Friday, June 8 with five more stakes, topped by the Grade 2, $600,000 New York for turf fillies and mares at 1 ¼ miles, the Grade 2, $250,000 True North for older sprinters and the Grade 2, $400,000 Belmont Gold Cup Invitational at two miles on the grass.
Tickets for the 2018 Belmont Stakes Racing Festival will go on sale to the public on Thursday, January 25 starting at 10 a.m. via Ticketmaster.com. NYRA will again be offering pre-sale opportunities ahead of the January 25 general sale, with additional information here.
Belmont’s 2018 graded stakes action will kick off on Kentucky Derby Day, Saturday, May 5, with the Grade 2, $200,000 Sheepshead Bay for fillies and mares at 1 3/8 miles on the turf, the Grade 3, $200,000 Westchester for older milers, and the Grade 3, $150,000 Fort Marcy at 1 1/8 miles on the grass.
The following weekend will feature a blockbuster card on Saturday, May 12 with five stakes on tap, anchored by the first Grade 1 of the Belmont spring/summer meet, the 60th running of the historic Man o’ War, worth an enhanced purse of $700,000 in 2018.
The Man o’ War Stakes Festival also includes the Grade 3 Peter Pan for sophomores at 1 1/8 miles. The local prep for the Belmont Stakes, the purse for the 2018 Peter Pan is $350,000, up from $200,000 in 2017. Rounding out the day’s stakes are a pair of Grade 3 contests for fillies and mares with the $200,000 Beaugay at 1 1/16 miles on the grass and the $200,000 Vagrancy for sprinters, and the $150,000 Runhappy, formerly run as the Diablo, for sprinters 4-and-up.
Another must-see event of the Belmont spring/summer meet will be the return of the popular Stars & Stripes Festival on Saturday, July 7. Launched in 2014, the internationally-themed day will once again feature a pair of prestigious Grade 1 races on the turf for 3-year-olds in the $1.2 million Belmont Derby Invitational and the $1 million Belmont Oaks Invitational for fillies, both at 1 ¼ miles.
Three additional graded stakes round out the superlative card, including the Grade 2, $350,000 Belmont Sprint Championship, and the Grade 2, $700,000 Suburban Handicap at 1 ¼ miles, both for older horses, as well as the Grade 3, $300,000 Dwyer for 3-year-olds at a mile.
The $100,000 Lynbrook for juvenile New York-bred fillies will close out the stakes action for the Belmont spring/summer meet on Sunday, July 15, before live racing moves to Saratoga Race Course on Friday, July 20.