by Pat McKenna
40-day meet offers 20 Grade 1s, including seven BC WAYI events; G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup and G1 Flower Bowl to anchor Closing Weekend
The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) today announced the stakes schedule for the 40-day summer meet at historic Saratoga Race Course, which will feature 76 stakes worth $21.5 million in total purses. The summer meet will open on Thursday, July 15, and conclude on Monday, September 6.
Earlier this month, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that live sports and entertainment venues with a minimum reserved seating capacity of 10,000 will be permitted to re-open to a limited number of spectators beginning on February 23 with approval from the New York State Department of Health. All attendees must present a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of the event and adhere to health and safety requirements, including mandatory facial coverings and social distancing.
NYRA will continue to closely monitor New York State-issued regulations to determine how they impact Saratoga Race Course. Additional details on fan attendance and tickets for the 2021 summer meet will be provided as information becomes available.
The 2021 summer meet, which will offer at least one stakes race every live racing day, will be highlighted by the 152nd renewal of the Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers on August 28 and the Grade 1, $1 million Whitney on August 7, as the anchors of two of the most prestigious racing days in North America.
The Saratoga meet will also include the Grade 1, $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup and the Grade 1, $600,000 Flower Bowl, both previously run during the fall meet at Belmont Park.
Following the four-day opening weekend, racing will be conducted five days a week, Wednesdays through Sundays, with the exception of the final week, when the meet will conclude on Labor Day.
Whitney Day will feature three Grade 1 events, led by the Whitney at 1 1/8 miles offering an automatic berth to the Breeders' Cup Classic on November 6 at Del Mar.
Completing the trio of Grade 1s on Whitney Day will be the $500,000 Longines Test for sophomore fillies and the $1 million Saratoga Derby Invitational, the second jewel of the Turf Triple series for sophomore males in its first running with Grade 1 status. Whitney Day will also include the Grade 2, $250,000 Glens Falls for older fillies and mares on turf, and the $120,000 Fasig-Tipton Lure.
Whitney weekend kicks off August 6, with the Grade 2, $200,000 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame for sophomore turf milers; the Grade 3, $200,000 Troy, presented by Horse Racing Ireland, for 4-year-olds and up going 5 ½ furlongs on the turf; and the $120,000 Alydar at nine furlongs for older horses.
Whitney weekend concludes on August 8, with three stakes highlighted by the upgraded Grade 3, $700,000 Saratoga Oaks Invitational, the second leg of the Turf Triple series for sophomore fillies. The August 8 card will also include the Grade 2, $200,000 Adirondack, a 6 1/2-furlong sprint for juvenile fillies, and the $120,000 Fasig-Tipton De La Rose at one mile on turf for older fillies and mares.
New York-breds will take center stage on Friday, August 27, for New York Showcase Day, featuring six stakes for state-breds worth a combined $1.15 million. The lucrative card is headlined by the $250,000 Albany, a nine-furlong test for sophomores. Also featured are a trio of $200,000 stakes in the Fleet Indian for sophomore fillies; the Funny Cide, presented by Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital, for juvenile sprinters; and the Seeking the Ante for juvenile filly sprinters. Rounding out a special Empire State-bred slate are a pair of $150,000 turf events with the West Point Handicap presented by Trustco Bank for 3-year-olds and up and the Yaddo for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up.
The 152nd edition of the Travers is the centerpiece of a blockbuster day of racing on Saturday, August 28. The 2021 Travers Day card will include seven stakes, including six Grade 1 events, offering $4.6 million in total purse money with automatic berths in the Breeders’ Cup to the winner of the Grade 1, $750,000 Sword Dancer [Turf], the Grade 1, $600,000 Personal Ensign [Distaff], and the Grade 1, $500,000 Ballerina [Filly & Mare Sprint].
In addition, the Travers Day card will also include the Grade 1, $600,000 Forego, a seven-furlong sprint for 4-year-olds and upward, and the Grade 1, $500,000 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial for 3-year-olds going seven furlongs. Rounding out the signature day at the Spa is the Grade 2, $400,000 Ballston Spa for turf fillies and mares.
The traditional local prep for the Travers, the Grade 2, $600,000 Jim Dandy, will be held on Saturday, July 31. It will be joined by the Grade 1, $350,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap, a six-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds and up, and the Grade 2, $250,000 Bowling Green at 1 3/8 miles on the turf. Closing out Jim Dandy weekend on August 1, is the Grade 2, $200,000 Amsterdam for 3-year-olds at 6 ½ furlongs.
Additional upgraded races for the Saratoga summer meet include the previously listed Grade 3, $200,000 Caress, a 5 1/2-furlong turf sprint for older fillies and mares slated for Saturday, July 24, in addition to 20 stakes receiving a $20,000 boost to offer a $120,000 purse.
Opening Day, Thursday, July 15, will begin with a pair of graded stakes: the Grade 3, $150,000 Schuylerville for 2-year-old fillies and the Grade 3, $120,000 Quick Call for 3-year-olds going 5 ½ furlongs on the grass.
Saratoga's first Grade 1 of 2021 is the $500,000 Diana for turf fillies and mares on Saturday, July 17. The following Saturday, July 24, will see the Grade 1, $500,000 Coaching Club American Oaks take center stage.
Among the other 20 Grade 1 races at the Spa will be the $150,000 A.P. Smithwick Memorial on July 29, and the $150,000 New York Turf Writers Cup on August 26 for steeplechasers; the $600,000 Alabama on Saturday, August 21; and the $500,000 Fourstardave Handicap, a Breeders' Cup qualifier for the Mile, on Saturday, August 14, to be held on the same card as the Grade 2, $200,000 Saratoga Special presented by Miller Lite.
Closing Weekend of the Saratoga meet will feature a pair of Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In events previously held in the fall at Belmont Park with the $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup [Classic] at 10 furlongs for 3-year-olds and up, and the $600,000 Flower Bowl [Filly and Mare Turf], an 11-furlong turf test for older fillies and mares, to anchor a Saturday, September 4 card that also includes the Grade 2, $250,000 Prioress and the Grade 3, $300,000 Saranac.
To accommodate the Jockey Club Gold Cup and Flower Bowl, the Grade 1, $750,000 Woodward and the Grade 3, $200,000 Fasig-Tipton Waya will move from Saratoga to the Belmont fall meet.
On September 5, 2-year-old fillies will sprint seven furlongs in the Grade 1, $300,000 Spinaway.
Closing Day on Monday, September 6, will feature the Grade 2, $200,000 Bernard Baruch Handicap as well as the prestigious Grade 1, $300,000 Hopeful for 2-year-olds going seven furlongs to conclude the 153rd Saratoga meeting.
Beginning in 2021, the use of Furosemide (Lasix) is prohibited within 48 hours of all stakes races conducted at NYRA tracks.
To view the complete stakes schedule for the 2021 summer meet, visit NYRA.com/stakes.