Travers, Whitney anchor 2017 meet at Saratoga
by Pat McKenna
The 2017 meet at historic Saratoga Race Course will again be highlighted by the Grade 1, $1.2 million Whitney and the Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers, the centerpieces of two of the biggest days in North American racing.
The 40-day meet, which includes 69 stakes worth $18.775 million in purses, will run from Friday, July 21, through Labor Day, Monday, September 4. After opening weekend, racing will be conducted six days a week, Wednesdays through Mondays.
On Saturday, August 5, the prestigious 1 1/8-mile Whitney, a "Win and You're In" qualifier for the $6 million Breeders' Cup Classic on November 4 at Del Mar, will pair with the Grade 1, $500,000 Test for 3-year-old fillies, with the Grade 3, $200,000 Fasig-Tipton Waya for turf fillies and mares going 1 1/2 miles rounding out the graded stakes offerings on the first "must-see" card of the meet. Also on August 6 are two additional turf stakes: the $100,000 Fasig-Tipton Lure at 1 1/16 miles and the $100,000 Fasig-Tipton De La Rose for fillies and mares at a mile.
Joining the 148th running of the Mid-Summer Derby for 3-year-olds at 1 1/4 miles on Saturday, August 26 will be five other Grade 1 stakes on Travers Day: the $1 million Sword Dancer Invitational at 1 ½ miles on the turf, the $500,000 Ballerina for filly and mare sprinters, the $600,000 Forego at seven furlongs, the $500,000 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial, formerly known as the King's Bishop, for 3-year-olds at seven furlongs, and the $700,000 Personal Ensign for fillies and mares going 1 1/8 miles. Rounding out the blockbuster card is the Grade 2, $400,000 Woodford Reserve 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 29, joined by the Grade 1, $350,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap, the Grade 2, $200,000 Amsterdam and the Grade 2, $250,000 Bowling Green.
Travers Eve, Friday, August 25, will again feature the popular New York Breeders' Showcase Day, highlighted by the $250,000 Albany for 3-year-olds going 1 1/8 miles and the $150,000 West Point at 1 1/16 miles on the turf.
Opening Day, Friday, July 21 will kick off with a pair of graded stakes: the Grade 3, $150,000 Schuylerville for 2-year-old fillies and the Grade 3, $150,000 Lake George for 3-year-old turf fillies. Continuing the juvenile dirt stakes tradition at the Spa are the Grade 3, $150,000 Sanford on Saturday, July 22; the Grade 2, $200,000 Saratoga Special on Sunday, August 13 and the Grade 1, $350,000 Hopeful on Monday, September 4, along with their sister races: the Grade 2, $200,000 Adirondack on Saturday, August 12 and the Grade 1, $350,000 Spinaway on Saturday, September 2.
Grade 1 action commences with the $500,000 Diana for turf fillies and mares on Saturday, July 22, and the $300,000 Coaching Club American Oaks for 3-year-old fillies on Sunday, July 23. Continuing the world-class offerings are the aforementioned Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap, Whitney and Test; the Grade 1, $500,000 Fourstardave Handicap at a mile on the turf on Saturday, August 12; Grade 1, $600,000 Alabama on Saturday, August 19, and the Travers, Sword Dancer, Personal Ensign, Forego, Ballerina and King's Bishop on Saturday, August 26.
Closing weekend of the 149th meeting at Saratoga features the Grade 1, $750,000 Woodward on Saturday, September 2, with the Grade 2, $250,000 Prioress for 3-year-old fillies taking the spotlight on Sunday, September 3.