Belmont Park Fall Dates and Stakes

Belmont Park GrandstandThe New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) has announced race dates for the 27-day Belmont fall meet, including 38 stakes worth $5.58 million in purse money, that will kick off on Friday, September 18 and run through Sunday, November 1.

Following opening weekend at Belmont, live racing will be conducted Thursday through Sunday with the exception of Columbus Day weekend, when live racing will be offered on Monday, October 12 and return on Friday, October 16.

The Belmont Park fall meet has traditionally opened on the Friday following Labor Day. Due to the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, NYRA adjusted the fall schedule by adding a one-week break following the conclusion of the summer meet at Saratoga Race Course.

Check out Handicapping Tip of the Day #61 – Analyzing Layoff Race Horses

“This new fall schedule is the result of a collaborative effort between NYRA, the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and the New York Thoroughbred Breeders to modify our racing calendar in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on the industry,” said NYRA President and CEO Dave O’Rourke. “I’d like to thank the horsemen and breeders for their common-sense approach to solving the challenges brought about by this unprecedented public health crisis.”

The fall meet at Belmont Park will be highlighted by 22 graded stakes, featuring seven Grade 1 events and seven Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” qualifiers to the two-day Breeders’ Cup 2020 World Championships to be held November 6-7 at Keeneland Race Course.

Stakes action will commence Opening Day with the $80,000 Miner’s Mark at 1 1/2-miles on Big Sandy for 3-year-olds and up leading into the first of the meet’s Grade 1 events the following day with the $250,000 Belmont Oaks Invitational, the second leg of the Turf Triple series for 3-year-old fillies in a 1 ¼-mile turf test on Saturday, September 19.

The following Saturday will be highlighted by the Grade 2, $150,000 Vosburgh, a six-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds and up offering a berth in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint. The September 26 card is bolstered by the Grade 3, $100,000 Noble Damsel at one-mile on the turf for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up.

The Thursday, October 1 card offers the $100,000 Joseph A. Gimma, a seven-furlong sprint for juvenile fillies as the first of 10 stakes races restricted to New York-breds at the meet. It’s counterpart, the $100,000 Bertram F. Bongard also at seven furlongs on the main track will be held October 2.

Five graded races will highlight the Saturday, October 3 card, led by the Grade 1, $250,000 Belmont Derby Invitational, second leg of the Turf Triple series for males, a 10-furlong turf test offering a berth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf. The card is bolstered by the Grade 1, $250,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at 12 furlongs on the turf for 3-year-olds and up; the Grade 2, $150,000 Gallant Bloom Handicap at 6 ½-furlongs for fillies and mares, 3-years-old and up; the Grade 2, $150,000 Kelso Handicap, a one-turn mile for 3-years-old and up; and the Grade 2, $150,000 Pilgrim for 2-year-ols at 1 1/16-miles on the turf.

The following day will showcase an additional three graded events on October 4 led by the Grade 2, $150,000 Beldame at nine furlongs for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up; The Grade 2, $150,000 Miss Grillo for juvenile fillies; and the Grade 3, $100,000 Belmont Turf Sprint Invitational at six furlongs for 3-year-olds and up.

Columbus Day Weekend beginning Saturday, October 10 and ending on Monday, October 12, will feature nine graded events worth $1.65 million, including four Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup “Win & You’re In” challenge races on Saturday led by the $250,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup, a 1 ¼-mile test offering a berth in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic.

The Saturday, October 10, card is bolstered by the Grade 1, $250,000 Champagne, won last year by Belmont Stakes and Runhappy Travers hero Tiz the Law, at one-mile for 2-year-olds providing a spot in the starting gate for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. A loaded card also includes the Grade 1, $250,000 Flower Bowl at 10-furlongs for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up with a berth in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf on the line; the Grade 1, $250,000 Frizette, a one-turn mile for juvenile fillies offering a berth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies; and the Grade 2, $150,000 Sands Point for sophomore fillies at one mile on the turf.

Sunday, October 11 will feature the Grade 3, $100,000 Futurity, a six-furlong turf sprint offering a berth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint; and the Grade 3, $100,000 Matron for juvenile filly turf sprinters.

The Grade 2, $150,000 Hill Prince for sophomore turf milers and the Grade 2, $150,000 Knickerbocker, a nine-furlong turf test for 3-year-olds and up on Columbus Day Monday will close out the lucrative weekend.

The spotlight will focus on the Empire State on Saturday, October 24 when the best New York-breds gather at Belmont Park for Empire Showcase Day. An annual celebration of all things New York, the Empire Showcase Day card will offer eight stakes worth $1.2 million topped by the $175,000 Empire Classic at 1 1/8 miles.

Closing weekend will feature five stakes combined from October 31 – November 1, led by the Grade 3, $100,000 Bold Ruler Handicap on Saturday. Sunday’s Closing Day will offer the $80,000 Pumpkin Pie and the $80,000 Chelsey Flower.

New York state currently requires all racetracks to operate without spectators in attendance to combat the spread of COVID-19. NYRA will issue updated guidance regarding COVID-19 health and safety protocols for jockeys, trainers and owners in the near future.

Source: New York Racing Association

FOX Sports Horse Racing TV Coverage Expanded

The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) announced this week a three-year extension of the groundbreaking television programming deal with FOX Sports to broadcast NYRA’s flagship TV program Saratoga Live on FS2. With this announcement, live daily coverage of racing from Saratoga Race Course will be available to a national television audience through 2020.

“There’s no place like Saratoga and FOX Sports is delighted to be headed back to the Spa for three more summers,” said Michael Mulvihill, FOX Sports Executive Vice President, Research, League Operations and Strategy. “We are very excited to extend and expand our partnership with NYRA, which provides high-quality live programming for FS2, and gives our fans access to insightful and entertaining daily coverage of the best race meet in North America.”

Saratoga canopy walk through“Partnering with FOX Sports has enabled NYRA to present the best race meet to horse racing and sports fans on a live and consistent basis,” said Tony Allevato, NYRA Bets President and Executive Producer of NYRA TV. “This extension ensures that people across the country will continue to be able to watch world-class thoroughbred racing on FS2.”

NYRA launched the critically-acclaimed Saratoga Live during the 2016 summer meet at Saratoga, which included 80 hours of live coverage. This year, FOX Sports expanded the schedule to include Saturdays from Belmont Park and Aqueduct Racetrack, bringing the total amount of live coverage on FS2 to more than 100 hours.

In 2017, NYRA added new markets in California and Ohio via agreements with several Regional Sports Networks including FOX Sports Prime Ticket, FOX Sports San Diego, and FOX Sports Ohio.

Including all regional networks, Saratoga Live presented by Claiborne Farm and stallion Runhappy, now reaches more than 75 million homes. Saratoga Live airs at 4 p.m. on most live racing days.

This Saturday, Travers Day at Saratoga Race Course, Saratoga Live will air on FS2 from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. and will include the 68thrunning of the Grade 1 Personal Ensign, featuring champion filly Songbird who has amassed a stellar record of 13 wins and one second-place finish in 14 starts.

New York and German Racetrack Join Partnership

Intercontinental stakes series created

The New York Racing Association has announced a three-year partnership with one of Germany’s premier racetracks, Hoppegarten Racecourse in Berlin, to host a unique, intercontinental stakes series beginning in 2017.

Through the agreement, NYRA will offer the winning 3-year-old filly of the 2017 Group 2 Diana-Trial, contested at 2,000 meters on the turf at historic Hoppegarten on June 4, an all-fees-paid invitation to the 1 ¼-mile, Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Oaks Invitational, one of the preeminent turf stakes in North America, on Stars & Stripes Day, July 8, at Belmont Park. The Belmont Oaks Invitational are ideally timed 34 days after the Diana-Trial and 29 days before the Group 1 German Oaks allowing the Berlin winner to compete in both races.

Likewise, the winner of the Group 2 Comer Group International Oleander-Rennen for four-year-olds and upwards, held at 3,200 meters on May 14, will receive an all-fees-paid invitation to compete in the two-mile, Grade 3, $400,000 Belmont Gold Cup Invitational, during the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival on June 9. The newly-upgraded Group 2 The Comer Group International Oleander-Rennen, Germany’s premier extended distance race, is upgraded to Group 2 for the first time in 2017 and will launch its winner onto a challenging international campaign.

Additionally, NYRA will offer a generous travel allowance for each qualifying horse and hospitality on the race day.

“The New York Racing Association is thrilled to enter into a relationship with Hoppegarten Race Course. As we look to elevate our international presence, this agreement connecting these races made a lot of sense in trying to further promote both of our racing programs,” said Martin Panza, NYRA’s Senior Vice President of Racing Operations. “The timing is ideal and the race conditions match. The story behind Hoppegarten Race Course is most fascinating and we look forward to working together in our efforts to bring German-based horses to race in New York.”

“I am delighted with this exciting new partnership which offers owners excellent prize money and raises our international profile,” said Gerhard Schöningh, Owner and Chairman of Hoppegarten Racecourse. “In addition, winning connections can experience a unique race day at Belmont Park in iconic New York.”

NYRA starts blog profiling New York Runners

Kudos to the New York Racing Association as they have recently started a blog devoted to racehorses that compete on the circuit there. Clearly, they are trying to put the spotlight on racehorses of note that compete during the year. It’s a great way to showcase an up-and-coming runner, a veteran horse, a fan favorite, etc.