NYRA announces 2023 Belmont Park spring/summer stakes schedule
by Pat McKenna
The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) today announced the stakes schedule for the spring/summer meet at Belmont Park, which will feature 54 stakes races worth $15.57 million in total purses. The 40-day spring/summer meet will open on Thursday, May 4 and continue through Sunday, July 9.
Highlighted by the 155th running of the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets on Saturday, June 10, the spring/summer meet will include 12 Grade 1 races, with nine of those contests scheduled during the three-day Belmont Stakes Racing Festival from Thursday, June 8 through Saturday, June 10.
The blockbuster Belmont Stakes Day program on June 10 will culminate with the 1 1/2-mile “Test of the Champion” and feature three Breeders’ Cup “Win And You’re In” qualifiers: the Grade 1, $1 million Hill ‘N’ Dale Metropolitan Handicap for 3-year-olds and up going one mile [Dirt Mile]; the Grade 1, $500,000 Ogden Phipps for older fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on the main track [Distaff]; and the Grade 1, $400,000 Jaipur for 3-year-olds and up sprinting six furlongs on the grass [Turf Sprint].
Five additional graded events are slated for Belmont Stakes Day: the Grade 1, $400,000 Woody Stephens presented by Mohegan Sun for sophomores sprinting seven furlongs; the Grade 1, $750,000 Resorts World Casino Manhattan for older horses traveling 1 1/4 miles on the turf; the Grade 2, $250,000 True North for older horses sprinting 6 1/2 furlongs; the Grade 2, $250,000 Brooklyn at 1 1/2 miles for older horses; and the Grade 3, $200,000 Poker for older horses going one-mile on the grass, which has been moved up one week from its traditional spot in the schedule.
Tickets for the 2023 Belmont Stakes Racing Festival will go on sale Thursday, February 9 at 10 a.m. Eastern via Ticketmaster.com.
For the first time, FOX will present comprehensive live coverage and analysis of the Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets. In 2022, FOX Sports secured the exclusive media rights for the Belmont Stakes and Belmont Stakes Racing Festival through 2030. As part of the eight-year agreement, FOX Sports will dramatically expand national television coverage of the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival.
While the total Belmont Stakes purse remains at $1.5 million, NYRA will increase the money awarded to the winning connections from 53.3 percent to 60 percent, which will result in a winner’s share of $900,000 compared with $800,000 in 2022. NYRA will continue to award Belmont Stakes purse money through eighth place with 18 percent to 2nd, 10 percent to 3rd, five percent to 4th, three percent to 5th, two percent to 6th and one percent to 7th and 8th.
The Belmont Stakes Racing Festival begins with two stakes on Thursday, June 8: the Grade 2, $200,000 Wonder Again for sophomore fillies traveling nine furlongs on the turf and the Listed $150,000 Jersey Girl for sophomore fillies sprinting six furlongs on the main track. The Jersey Girl has been previously run on the Sunday after the Belmont Stakes.
Friday, June 9 will include five graded stakes highlighted by a trio of Grade 1 events: the $600,000 New York, the $500,000 Just a Game and the $500,000 Acorn, which will be lengthened to 1 1/16 miles after it was previously run at one mile. The Just a Game and Acorn have been moved to Day 2 of the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival after having been previously run on Belmont Stakes Day. In addition, the June 9 program will include the Grade 2, $250,000 Belmont Gold Cup and the Grade 3, $200,000 Intercontinental.
Following the conclusion of the three-day Belmont Stakes Racing Festival, the high-quality racing continues Sunday, June 11 with two 5 1/2-furlong juvenile stakes, each offering new incentives for 2023. The Listed $150,000 Tremont and its female counterpart, the $150,000 Astoria, will each offer a shipping bonus of $1,000 for horses stabled outside of NYRA racetracks, and a $2,000 bonus [$1,000 to the owner and $1,000 to the trainer] to each starter in the race.
The Grade 3, $250,000 Manila, a one-mile turf test for sophomores slated for Friday, July 7, has been upgraded from Listed status for 2023, and its purse increased by $150,000. The Manila will lead into a lucrative Saturday, July 8, card featuring two Grade 1 turf routes for sophomores: the $750,000 Belmont Derby Invitational and the $500,000 Belmont Oaks Invitational, both at 1 1/4 miles.
The July 8 card will also include the Grade 2, $350,000 Suburban for older horses going 1 1/4 miles and the Grade 3, $175,000 Victory Ride for sophomore fillies sprinting 6 1/2 furlongs.
The spring/summer meet stakes action kicks off on Friday, May 5 with the Grade 2, $200,000 Sheepshead Bay for older fillies and mares going 1 3/8 miles on the turf and the Grade 3, $175,000 Westchester for older horses at one-mile on the main track. The Affirmed Success, which has recently opened the stakes racing at Belmont, has been moved to April 30 and will drop the curtain on the spring meet at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Opening Weekend at Belmont continues with three more stakes on Saturday, May 6: the Grade 2, $200,000 Ruffian, the Grade 2, $200,000 Fort Marcy, and the Listed $150,000 Elusive Quality. Sunday, May 7 offers two additional stakes with the Grade 3, $175,000 Beaugay and Listed $150,000 License Fee.
The following weekend will see the start of Grade 1 action at the spring/summer meet as the $600,000 Man o’ War, a 1 3/8-mile turf route for older horses, headlines a loaded Saturday, May 13 card. The day will also feature the Grade 3, $200,000 Peter Pan for sophomores traveling nine furlongs and the Grade 3, $175,000 Runhappy for older horses sprinting six furlongs.
The lucrative Man o’ War card is bookended by the Listed $150,000 Gold Fever for sophomores sprinting six furlongs on Friday, May 12 and the Grade 3, $175,000 Vagrancy for older fillies and mares at 6 1/2 furlongs on Sunday, May 14. Stakes action resumes the following weekends with the Listed $150,000 Paradise Creek on Saturday, May 20 and the Grade 3, $175,000 Soaring Softly on Saturday, May 27.
New York-breds will take center stage on the Big Apple Showcase Day card slated for Memorial Day on Monday, May 29. The day will offer six state-bred stakes worth $900,000, headlined by a pair of $200,000 contests in the Critical Eye Handicap for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up at 1 1/16 miles, and the Commentator Handicap for 3-year-olds and up at the same distance. The Critical Eye and Commentator were previously contested at a distance of one-mile.
Big Apple Showcase Day will include a quartet of $125,000 contests--the Kingston at 1 1/16 miles on turf for older horses; the Mount Vernon for older fillies and mares traveling one-mile on the grass; the Mike Lee for sophomores sprinting seven furlongs; and the Bouwerie for sophomore fillies at seven furlongs.
Graded stakes action returns on Saturday, June 3 with the Grade 2, $200,000 Pennine Ridge for sophomore turf specialists going 1 1/8 miles.
The weekend of Saturday, June 17 kicks off with the Grade 2, $200,000 Bed o’ Roses for fillies and mares 4-years-old and up sprinting seven furlongs before attention turns to the New York stallion program on Sunday, June 18 for two divisions of the New York Stallion Stakes Series. The $150,000 NYSSS Spectacular Bid is slated as a seven-furlong turf sprint for sophomores with the $150,000 NYSSS Cupecoy’s Joy set for the same distance and course for sophomore fillies.
Saturday, June 24 will feature the Listed $150,000 Wild Applause for sophomores fillies at one-mile on the turf, before the weekend closes out on Sunday, June 25 with the $125,000 Dancin Renee for older New York-bred fillies and mares sprinting six furlongs.
Independence Day weekend kicks off on Saturday, July 1 with a pair of graded events - the Grade 2, $250,000 John A. Nerud for older sprinters at seven furlongs and the Grade 3, $200,000 Dwyer for sophomores traveling one-mile on the main track.
Sunday, July 2 will be headlined by the Listed $150,000 Perfect Sting, setting the stage for holiday racing on Monday, July 3 and Tuesday, July 4. The two cards will each offer a new stake for New York-breds - the $125,000 Hudson Valley at one-mile on the turf for older horses on July 3; and the $125,000 Port Washington, a 1 1/16-mile turf route for older fillies and mares, on July 4.
The 40-day spring/summer meet will conclude on Sunday, July 9 before racing moves to historic Saratoga Race Course for the annual summer meet beginning Thursday, July 13.
The Grade 2 Mother Goose, which has been traditionally contested during the Belmont spring/summer meet, will be run during the Belmont at the Big A fall meet in 2023.
For the 2023 Belmont spring/summer stakes schedule, visit NYRA.com/BelmontSpringSummer.