NYRA announces stakes schedule for summer meet at Saratoga Race Course
by Pat McKenna
The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) today announced the stakes schedule for the 2023 summer meet at historic Saratoga Race Course, which will include 71 stakes worth $20.8 million in total purses.
Highlighted by the 154th renewal of the Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers on August 26 and the Grade 1, $1 million Whitney on August 5, the 40-day summer meet will open on Thursday, July 13 and continue through Monday, September 4.
Following the four-day opening weekend, racing will be conducted five days a week, Wednesdays through Sundays, apart from closing week, when the 2023 summer meet will conclude on Labor Day.
Saratoga Live, the acclaimed television show produced by NYRA in partnership with FOX Sports, will return for its 8th season to provide expansive on-site daily coverage of the summer meet to a nationwide audience on the networks of FOX Sports.
Opening Day, Thursday, July 13, kicks off the season with the Grade 3, $175,000 Schuylerville for 2-year-old fillies with the following day to feature the $135,000 Wilton for sophomore fillies to be contested out of the Wilson Chute and the $150,000 Coronation Cup, a turf sprint for sophomore fillies.
Opening Weekend is highlighted by the first Grade 1 of the Saratoga season in the $500,000 Diana for turf fillies and mares on July 15. That day’s card will include the Grade 3, $175,000 Sanford for juveniles on dirt; and the Grade 3, $175,000 Kelso, formerly the Forbidden Apple, at one mile on turf for older horses. [The Grade 2 Kelso, which is traditionally run at one-mile on dirt during the Belmont Park fall meet, will be renamed and run on a date to be determined.]
The Grade 3, $175,000 Quick Call, presented by Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, a sophomore turf sprint, closes out Opening Weekend on Sunday, July 16.
The following Saturday, July 22, will see the Grade 1, $500,000 Coaching Club American Oaks for sophomore fillies take center stage, headlining a card that also offers the Grade 3, $200,000 Caress, a 5 1/2-furlong turf sprint for older fillies and mares.
Week 3, which offers the Grade 2, $200,000 Amsterdam for 3-year-olds at 6 1/2 furlongs on Friday, July 28, is highlighted by the traditional local prep for the Travers, the Grade 2, $500,000 Jim Dandy on Saturday, July 29. It will be joined by the Grade 1, $350,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap, a six-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds and up. Closing out Jim Dandy weekend on July 30 is the Grade 2, $250,000 Bowling Green at 1 3/8 miles on the turf.
The restricted $135,000 Fasig-Tipton De La Rose for older filly and mare turf milers is slated for Wednesday, August 2, as part of Whitney Week leading into the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Sale on August 7-8 and the Fasig-Tipton New York-bred Yearlings Sale on August 13-14.
The Grade 2, $250,000 Glens Falls for older turf marathoners is set for Thursday, August 3, before Whitney Weekend launches Friday, August 4, with the Grade 2 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame for sophomore turf milers, which will see its purse increase to $500,000; and the Grade 3, $400,000 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Oaks Invitational at 1 3/16-miles on turf for sophomore fillies.
Whitney Day on Saturday, August 5, provides a trio of Grade 1 events, led by the Whitney at 1 1/8 miles for older horses offering an automatic berth to the Breeders' Cup Classic on November 4 at Santa Anita.
Completing the Grade 1s on Whitney Day will be the seven-furlong $500,000 Test for sophomore fillies and the $600,000 Saratoga Derby Invitational, at 1 3/16-miles on turf for sophomores. Whitney Day will also include the Grade 3, $300,000 Troy for older turf sprinters, and the restricted $135,000 Lure at 1 1/16-miles on turf for older horses.
Whitney weekend concludes on Sunday, August 6, with the Grade 3, $200,000 Adirondack, a 6 1/2-furlong sprint for juvenile fillies.
The Travers Festival, which offers nine stakes including six Grade 1s from Wednesday, August 23 through Saturday, August 26, is headlined by the 154th edition of the 1 1/4-mile Travers on Saturday, August 26.
The lucrative Travers Day card features five Grade 1 stakes and an automatic berth in the Breeders’ Cup to the winner of the Grade 1, $750,000 Resorts World Casino Sword Dancer [Turf] and Grade 1, $500,000 Ballerina Handicap [Filly and Mare Sprint.]
In addition to the Travers, the stacked card will also include the Grade 1, $500,000 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.
The Travers Festival kicks off August 23 with the restricted $135,000 John’s Call for older turf horses and continues on Thursday, August 24, with the Grade 2, $400,000 Ballston Spa at 1 1/16-miles for turf fillies and mares. The August 25 card will offer the Grade 1, $500,000 Personal Ensign at nine-furlongs for older fillies and mares along with the $150,000 Smart N Fancy for older filly and mare turf sprinters.
New York-breds will take center stage on Sunday, August 27, for New York Showcase Day, featuring six stakes for state-breds worth a combined $1.25 million.
The card is headlined by the $250,000 Albany, a nine-furlong test for sophomores. Also featured are five $200,000 stakes including the Fleet Indian for sophomore fillies; the West Point Handicap presented by Trustco Bank for 3-year-olds and up; and the Yaddo Handicap for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up. A pair of sprints for juveniles previously offered at 6 1/2-furlongs will now both be contested at six furlongs in the Funny Cide presented by Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital for 2-year-olds; and the Seeking the Ante for juvenile fillies.
New York-breds will also be highlighted at the Spa with four handicaps each boasting a purse of $125,000, including the Johnstone Mile [August 9] for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up; the John Morrissey [August 10] at six furlongs for 3-year-olds and up; the Evan Shipman Handicap [August 11] at one-mile for 3-year-olds and up; and the six-furlong Union Avenue [August 11] for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up.
Among the other Grade 1 races at the Spa will be the $150,000 A.P. Smithwick Memorial on July 19, and the $150,000 Jonathan Sheppard on August 16 for steeplechasers; the $600,000 Alabama on Saturday, August 19; and the $500,000 Fourstardave Handicap, a Breeders' Cup qualifier for the Mile, on Saturday, August 12, to be held on the same card as the Grade 2, $200,000 Saratoga Special.
Closing Weekend of the Saratoga meet will feature a pair of Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” events on Saturday, September 2, led by the Grade 1, $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup [Classic] at 10 furlongs for 3-year-olds and up.
The September 2 card also includes the Grade 2, $500,000 Flower Bowl, an 11-furlong turf test for older fillies and mares offering a berth in the Filly and Mare Turf; the Grade 2, $250,000 Prioress for sophomore filly sprinters; and the $150,000 Harvey Pack for older turf sprinters.
The Harvey Pack, formerly the Lucky Coin, honors the late broadcasting pioneer, who for more than three decades was one of the best-known personalities in New York racing. At NYRA, Pack created and hosted racing replay shows like “Thoroughbred Action” and “Inside Racing,” and as its Director of Promotions and Special Events, he created and hosted “The Paddock Club” at Belmont and Saratoga in which fans gathered to discuss racing and handicapping, often joined by special guests.
On Sunday, September 3, juvenile fillies will sprint seven furlongs in the Grade 1, $300,000 Spinaway as part of the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Dozen series.
Closing Day on Monday, September 4, will feature the $150,000 Bernard Baruch along with the prestigious Grade 1, $300,000 Hopeful for 2-year-olds going seven furlongs to conclude the 2023 Saratoga meeting.
The complete stakes schedule for the 2023 summer meet is available at https://www.nyra.com/saratoga/racing/stakes-schedule/