Saratoga Race Course scheduled for July 15 Opening Day

The New York Racing Association announced dates for the meets at Saratoga Race Course, Belmont Park and Aqueduct on Friday, with the Belmont Stakes, Travers and Whitney scheduled for their respective traditional spots.

Opening Day for Saratoga will be Thursday, July 15, to start 40 days of racing, including Whitney Day on Saturday, Aug. 7, and Travers Day on Saturday, Aug. 28.

The bulk of the 153rd Saratoga will run five days a week, from Wednesday to Sunday, and will conclude on Labor Day, Sept. 6.

The rest of the Saratoga stakes schedule is to be determined.

With the Kentucky Derby scheduled for May 1, the Belmont will move back to its spot five weeks later, June 5, after the Triple Crown series was substantially disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020…

NYRA: Daily Mandatory Payout of Empire Six Wager Daily in January

the Big A race horseThe New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) announced the Empire 6 wager [Jackpot Pick-6] will offer a daily mandatory payout in the month of January commencing with Friday’s New Year’s Day card at Aqueduct Racetrack.

Featuring a $0.20 bet minimum and 20 percent takeout, the Empire 6 wager requires bettors to select the first-place finisher of the final six races of the card. The full pool, minus takeout, will be distributed to bettors who select the first-place finisher in the greatest number of races on the card.

“Our loyal community of horseplayers has continually expressed interest and support for wagers that reward the daily player with the opportunity for impressive payouts,” said Joe Longo, NYRA Director of Simulcasting. “This pilot program is designed to be responsive to those sentiments while helping NYRA to determine the future of the Empire 6.”

Aqueduct will offer 19 racing dates in January with live racing generally conducted Thursday through Sunday, with the addition of a special Monday card on January 18 for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

The first mandatory payout Empire 6 will feature on Friday’s New Year’s Day card at the Big A which is highlighted by the 151st renewal of the $150,000 Jerome, a one-turn mile for sophomores offering 10-4-2-1 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the top-four finishers. First post on the nine-race card is 12:20 p.m. Eastern, with the Empire 6 set to kick off in Race 4 at 1:50 p.m.

The Empire 6 was launched in August 2019 with a jackpot provision in which the full pool would be paid out only to a single ticket selecting the first-place finisher in all six races, otherwise 75 percent of the day’s net pool would be distributed to those who selected the first-place finisher in the greatest number of races with the remainder added into a jackpot and carried to the next day’s Empire 6.

Thursday’s year-end Big A card will feature mandatory payouts of the Empire 6, Early Pick 5 and Late Pick 5 wagers, in accordance with New York State Gaming Commission rules. The Empire 6, which boasts a jackpot of $183,471, begins in Race 3 at 1:46 p.m. Eastern. First post on Thursday’s eight-race card is 12:50 p.m.

Source: NYRA Press release

This Year’s Belmont Stakes to Be Run on This Date at This New Distance

152nd Belmont Stakes to be broadcast live on NBC as first leg of the Triple Crown

The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) today announced the 152nd renewal of the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Stakes, to be contested at nine furlongs [from the normal 12 furlongs], will take place on Saturday, June 20 at Belmont Park as the opening leg of the Triple Crown for the first time in history.

To align with required health and safety measures implemented in New York to mitigate risk and combat the spread of COVID-19, the Belmont Stakes will be held without spectators in attendance.

“The Belmont Stakes is a New York institution that will provide world-class entertainment for sports fans during these challenging times,” said NYRA President & CEO Dave O’Rourke. “While this will certainly be a unique running of this historic race, we are grateful to be able to hold the Belmont Stakes in 2020. Thanks to our partners at NBC Sports, fans across the country can look forward to a day of exceptional thoroughbred racing at a time when entertainment and sports are so important to providing a sense of normalcy.”

Minnesota horse racing is back on.

152nd Belmont Stakes to be run on June 20

As the exclusive broadcast partner of the Belmont Stakes and Triple Crown, NBC Sports will present three hours of live coverage from Belmont Park on Saturday, June 20 beginning at 3 p.m. Eastern.

“June Saturdays at Belmont Park always offer terrific racing,” said Jon Miller, President of Programming for NBC Sports & NBCSN. “We’re excited to return on June 20 with a three-hour broadcast featuring the 152nd Belmont Stakes.”

Justify winning the Belmont – AP source

Traditionally contested at 1 1/2-miles and held as the third and final leg of the Triple Crown, the 152nd running of the Belmont Stakes will be run at a distance of 1 1/8-miles to properly account for the schedule adjustments to the Triple Crown series and overall calendar for 3-year-olds in training.

The revised date and distance for the Belmont Stakes follows the previously announced rescheduling of the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby, from Saturday, May 2 to Saturday, September 5 as well as the rescheduling of the Preakness Stakes from May 16 to October 3.

Initially contested at a distance of 1 5/8-miles at Jerome Park, the first Belmont Stakes was won by Hall of Fame filly Ruthless in 1867. For a two-year period in 1893-94, the Belmont Stakes was run at nine furlongs at Morris Park Racecourse with Comanche winning in 1893 and Hall of Famer Henry of Navarre victorious a year later. The 1 1/2-miles distance was established in 1926.

All Belmont Stakes Racing Festival (BSRF) tickets are subject to full refunds. Fans who purchased directly from the NYRA Box Office or a NYRA sales representative are asked to complete this web form to request a refund or account credit. Fans who purchased BSRF tickets through Ticketmaster will receive an email directing them to log in to their Ticketmaster account to request a refund or credit.

NYRA Bets is the official online wagering site for the 152nd running of the Belmont Stakes, and the best way to bet the 2020 Belmont Park spring/summer meet. Available to customers across the United States, NYRA Bets allows horseplayers to watch and wager on racing from tracks around the world at any time. The NYRA Bets app is available for download for iOS and Android at NYRABets.com.

For more information, please visit BelmontStakes.com.

About the Belmont Stakes

The Belmont Stakes is an American tradition inaugurated in 1867 at Jerome Park Racetrack and moved in 1905 to its familiar home at beautiful Belmont Park. As the traditional third leg of racing’s Triple Crown, the 1 ½-mile “Test of the Champion,” as the Belmont Stakes is known, has showcased many of history’s greatest thoroughbreds.

Two of those Triple Crown triumphs have come in the last five years, with American Pharoah ending a 37-year Triple Crown drought in 2015 and Justify capping a perfect 6-for-6 career with a Triple Crown-clinching effort in 2018.

About the New York Racing Association

The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) holds the exclusive franchise to conduct thoroughbred racing at Aqueduct Racetrack, Belmont Park and Saratoga Race Course.

NYRA tracks are the cornerstone of New York State’s thoroughbred industry, which is responsible for 19,000 jobs and more than $3 billion in annual statewide economic impact.

Accredited by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association Safety and Integrity Alliance, NYRA is a founding member of the Thoroughbred Safety Coalition, a group of the nation’s leading racing organizations working collaboratively to advance safety reforms across the sport.

Over the course of 217 days of live racing in 2019, NYRA generated more than $2.1 billion in all-sources wagering handle with paid attendance exceeding 1.5 million.

Today and Tomorrow Horse Racing on Fox Sports 1 (FS1)

Source: NYRA

Grade 1 $600K Apple Blossom and Grade 3 Count Fleet bolster 10.5 hours of coverage

Free Equibase past performances available (see below) for all races that are part of broadcast

America’s Day at the Races, produced by the New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) in partnership with FOX Sports, will feature a pair of graded stakes races from Oaklawn Park on Saturday’s live broadcast on FS1.

The acclaimed national telecast presenting coverage and analysis of the best racing from around the country will air on FS1/FS2 on Saturday and Sunday for a combined 10.5 hours of national television coverage from Oaklawn Park and Tampa Bay Downs.

Saturday, April 18

1:30 – 7 p.m. (FS1) ET

 Sunday, April 19

1:30-2:30 p.m. (FS2)

2:30 – 6:30 p.m. (FS1)

America’s Day at the Races is also broadcast on NYRA’s YouTube channel which boasts more than 30,000 subscribers. Fans can subscribe to NYRA’s channel and set a reminder to watch the show on YouTube Live. NYRA’s YouTube channel also hosts a plethora of race replays, special features, Talking Horses episodes, America’s Day at the Races replays and more.

America’s Day at the Races is presented by America’s Best Racing, Runhappy, and Claiborne Farm. Hosted by Greg Wolf and Laffit Pincay III, this weekend’s broadcast team includes Gary Stevens, Michelle Yu, Tom Amoss and Jonathon Kinchen.

With racing at Aqueduct Racetrack currently suspended due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Saturday’s broadcast will be highlighted by the Grade 1, $600,000 Apple Blossom Handicap, a 1 1/16-mile route for fillies and mares 4-years-old and up; along with the Grade 3, $350,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap, a six-furlong sprint for 4-year-olds and upward.

The Apple Blossom will feature the Amoss-trained Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks-winner Serengeti Empress headlining a field of 14. The 4-year-old Alternation bay rose to prominence with a romping 19 ½-length score in the 2018 Grade 2 Pocahontas at Churchill Downs as a juvenile. She enjoyed a memorable sophomore season winning the Grade 2 Rachel Alexandra at Fair Grounds in addition to her Oaks triumph. Last out, Serengeti Empress went gate-to-wire under returning rider Joe Talamo in the Grade 2 Azeri on March 14 at Oaklawn.

Serengeti Empress will face steep competition in the form of Blue Devil Racing Stable’s Come Dancing, who will make her seasonal debut under Florent Geroux following a sixth-place effort in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint. The versatile daughter of Malibu Moon won four-of-six starts last season including a victory in the Grade 1 Ballerina at Saratoga Race Course.

Leading the charge in the Count Fleet Sprint Handicap, which drew a field of 11, is the popular 7-year-old Whitmore. Trained by Ron Moquett, the Pleasantly Perfect gelding boasts a perfect in-the-money record at Oaklawn of 13-8-4-1 with purse earnings in excess of $1.4 million. Whitmore, a 13-time winner, captured the 2018 Grade 1 Forego at Saratoga and last out won the Hot Springs on March 7 at Oaklawn, while garnering a 104 Beyer Speed Figure. Top contenders in the six-furlong sprint include Hidden Scroll, Hog Creek Hustle and Wendell Fong

FREE PPs

Free Equibase-provided past performances are available for races that are part of the America’s Day at the Races broadcast right here.

NYRA Shuts Down Aqueduct after Worker Contracts Virus

Aqueduct will be shutting down racing operations immediately and indefinitely after a backstretch worker at Belmont Park tested positive for coronavirus. ~ David Grening, DRF, 3/19/20

The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) today announced that live racing at Aqueduct Racetrack will occur behind closed doors until further notice.

The decision follows today’s announcement by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to ban gatherings of 500 or more people to reduce the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

“We believe that the most prudent decision to protect the health and well-being of all involved in our sport is to conduct upcoming race dates without attendees,” said NYRA CEO & President Dave O’Rourke. “NYRA will continue to actively monitor this evolving situation and make further adjustments as necessary in consultation and collaboration with the New York State Gaming Commission.”

Did the Tampa Bay Derby make sense? Read Art Parker’s analysis

Until further notice, only essential racetrack staff required to officiate and report on live racing per New York State Gaming Commission (NYSGC) rules, including, but not limited to, stewards, licensed owners, trainers, assistant trainers and grooms, will be permitted on-site.

Carriage horse advocates wants New York racing stopped while COVID-19 crisis continuesA recently formed NYRA Preparedness and Response Plan Committee, comprised of key NYRA staff members as well as representatives from the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (NYTHA), the Backstretch Employee Service Team (BEST), and the New York Race Track Chaplaincy of America (NYRTCA), will monitor and assess developments regarding the coronavirus.

NYRA will continue to follow best practices established by the New York State Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Live racing at the Aqueduct winter meet in March is conducted three days per week, Friday through Sunday. Live racing resumes Friday, March 13 at the Big A with a nine-race card. First post is 1:30 p.m. Eastern.

As a courtesy to fans, all NYRA racing can be streamed for free in high-definition at NYRA.com/aqueduct/racing/live. This service is provided by RTN.

Racing at Aqueduct is slated to continue through the conclusion of the spring meet on April 19. Live racing will then move to Belmont Park for the 51-day spring/summer meet which kicks off on April 24.

Source: New York Racing Association

The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) holds the exclusive franchise to conduct thoroughbred racing at Aqueduct Racetrack, Belmont Park and Saratoga Race Course.

NYRA tracks are the cornerstone of New York State’s thoroughbred industry, which is responsible for 19,000 jobs and more than $3 billion in annual statewide economic impact.

Accredited by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association Safety and Integrity Alliance, NYRA is a founding member of the Thoroughbred Safety Coalition, a group of the nation’s leading racing organizations working collaboratively to advance safety reforms across the sport.

Over the course of 217 days of live racing in 2019, NYRA generated more than $2.1 billion in all-sources wagering handle with paid attendance exceeding 1.5 million.

10 Keys to Turning a Profit at Saratoga

Rich Nilsen handicapper
Updated & Expanded for 2021

Download this free guide "Beat Saratoga: 10 Tips for Turning a Profit" by AGameofSkill.com founder Rich Nilsen and play the
2021 Saratoga meet successfully.

NOTE: The form below does NOT work in Firefox/Mozilla Browser.  Please use a different browser.

Beating this 40-day meet with so many contentious races is no easy task, even for experienced horseplayers, but the tips in this guide will get you on track to do just that.

17-time NHC Qualifier and 8-time major contest winner Rich Nilsen walks you through the steps required to beat this prestigious race meet. In "Beat Saratoga: 10 Tips for Turning a Profit" you'll learn:

* What steps it takes to beat this meet successfully.
* Which jockeys and trainers dominate the Saratoga meet.
* Which 'dark horse' jockeys and trainers you need to know about. These guys bring home the prices, and one new trainer in particular you must keep an eye out for!
* How each of the three tracks (dirt and turf) play and how this affects you as a handicapper.
A new tip to help eliminate runners with big figs.
* Plus .... be on the lookout for this one important trend - it occurs every year!

Fill out the short form below to claim your free report "Beat Saratoga!" You will automatically receive an email with a link to the PDF document that you can download to any device.   You will also be given the chance to win a free handicapping book from DRF Press.   After you hit "submit" it will take you back to the same type of page but with a message saying that your submission has been received.  Then, check your email.  Thanks!!

NOTE: The form does NOT work in Firefox/Mozilla Browser.


10 Tips for Turning a Profit at Saratoga

Tickets for ‘The Stretch’ at Saratoga Racecourse Go On Sale Today

The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) will welcome the general public to purchase full-season ticket plans at The Stretch for the 2019 meet at Saratoga Race Course beginning Thursday, February 28 at 1 p.m.

The Stretch – which debuted in 2018 and is located in the grandstand at the Top of the Stretch – is a private hospitality area featuring modern and upscale amenities in a casual environment with breathtaking views of thoroughbreds rounding the final turn.

Reserved seating options at The Stretch available for seasonal plans include middle dining tier tables ranging from six to eight seats; reserved bar seats; and premium reserved seats. Full-season plans can be purchased exclusively through the NYRA Box Office by phone at (844) NYRA-TIX, via email atboxoffice@nyrainc.com or at www.nyra.com/saratoga.

Season ticket holders to The Stretch enjoy exclusive access to a full-service bar, kitchen and concessions, high-definition televisions and video screens, touchscreen tablets, special events, and private restrooms. Guests also enjoy a relaxed dress code at The Stretch.

“The Stretch was tremendously popular in its inaugural season,” said NYRA Senior Vice President and Chief Experience Officer Lynn LaRocca. “Based on the outstanding feedback we received last year and the robust pace of season ticket renewals, we expect this premium hospitality area to be in extremely high demand for the 2019 meet. We encourage fans to act now to secure their spot in The Stretch for the upcoming season.”

All season plan holders to The Stretch will automatically be enrolled in the Saratoga Season Perks program, which includes discounts on-track and at participating off-track locations, including local restaurants, merchants, service providers and entertainment venues. Discounts at participating partners are valid from June 1, 2019 through March 31, 2020 with a Saratoga Season Perks card.
Stretch season ticket plan holders will also be guaranteed a Saratoga premium giveaway on the day of the giveaway. Season plan holders must be present at Saratoga Race Course and redeem the giveaway by the designated time.

Weekly ticket plans for The Stretch will go on sale to the general public beginning Tuesday, April 9. Single day tickets for The Stretch will go on sale Tuesday, April 16. Inventory may be limited and is based on availability.

The 40-day meet at historic Saratoga Race Course will begin on Thursday, July 11 and run through Labor Day, Monday, September 2. Following opening weekend, Thursday, July 11 through Sunday, July 14, racing at Saratoga will be conducted five days a week, Wednesdays through Sundays. Closing week will run Wednesday, August 28 through Labor Day, Monday, September 2.

Source: NYRA

Times for Cigar Mile H., Go For Wand Changed

the Big A race horseThe New York Racing Association (NYRA) announced today that following a review of the December 1 Cigar Mile card at Aqueduct Racetrack, in conjunction with Teletimer, the official timing system for NYRA racetracks, that the running times of three one-mile races on the main track, including the Grade 3, $250,000 Go For Wand Handicap, have been adjusted.

The Teletimer system initiates timing of each race when the first runner crosses the timing beam, however, due to an auxiliary starting gate incorrectly parked on the outside fence of Aqueduct’s main track during the first half of the card, the beam was not engaged resulting in the first three one-mile races being timed directly from the gate, without the customary run-up which on December 1 was 54 feet from the starting gate to the first beam.

The issue was recognized and addressed prior to the final one-mile race of the day, the Grade 1, $750,000 Cigar Mile Handicap won by Patternrecognition.

Following the review, official times for the three one-mile races affected by timing issues have been corrected as follows:

Race 2, a maiden special weight for juveniles won by Kentucky Wildcat which was originally timed in splits of 25.85, 49.82, 1:15.30 and 1:41.41, is now corrected to 24.68, 49.14, 1:14.01 and 1:40.17.

Race 3, a $25,000 claiming event for older horses won by Stronger which was originally timed in splits of 26.08, 50.55, 1:16.62 and 1:42.92, is now corrected to 25.13, 49.78, 1:15.37 and 1:41.77.

In Race 6, the 79th running of the Go For Wand, Marley’s Freedom earned a neck score in a race originally timed in splits of 25.27, 48.56, 1:13.34 and 1:38.35, which is now corrected to 24.52, 48.14, 1:12.14 and 1:37.50.

NYRA has reviewed the circumstances of this incident with stewards and staff and instituted additional protocols to prevent a similar error from occurring in the future.

Source: Press Release

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Is Horse Racing Dead? Not in New York

Expansion of Saratoga Race Course

The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) received approval from the New York State Franchise Oversight Board to proceed with construction of a permanent building at the site of the current At the Rail tent at Saratoga Race Course.

The project will replace the seasonal tent and trailers located immediately adjacent to the end of the Clubhouse with a 36,000-square foot, three-story, climate-controlled building featuring differentiated hospitality options and modern amenities. In addition to the three floors of usable space for guests, a basement level will provide space for a fully appointed kitchen to service the building.

Saratoga canopy walk throughNYRA currently plans to break ground on the project at the conclusion of the 2018 summer season and anticipates the new building will welcome guests on opening day of the 2019 meet.

“This project is another example of NYRA’s continuous efforts to provide the best possible experience for our guests. The new building will transform the parcel of land at the south end of the property with the type of differentiated seating, dining options and amenities synonymous with a world-class sporting venue,” said NYRA CEO and President Chris Kay. “Perhaps most importantly, the new building will address the modern-day needs of Saratoga Race Course while honoring its history. We have taken great care to ensure that the building is historically consistent with the fabled architecture of our grandstand and clubhouse. We look forward to beginning the next steps of this much-anticipated project.”

SOSH Architects will continue to oversee design, bid and construction administration services for the building. Matt Hurff, partner at Saratoga Springs-based Frost Hurff Architects, will continue to serve as project consultant to ensure all historic preservation standards are met.

The project has received the endorsement of the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation, which specifically noted the importance of the new building to the future of Saratoga Race Course.

“The Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation is pleased to offer its support for the New York Racing Association’s planned At the Rail building at Saratoga Race Course, which incorporates historically sensitive design details,” said Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation Executive Director Samantha Bosshart. “The Foundation looks forward to seeing the New York Racing Association’s significant investment in this building come to fruition.”

In recent years, NYRA has placed significant resources behind historic preservation efforts at Saratoga Race Course. In 2015, NYRA began to restore the copper roofing that historically bordered the slate-covered roof on buildings throughout the property. This is visible in a number of locations, including the archway over the Clubhouse escalator, which was installed in 2016; the paddock mutuel building roof, to which copper accents were added in 2017; and the Clubhouse from the Easy Goer to the Club Terrace, which will feature the addition of copper along the roofline for the 2018 season.

In 2017, NYRA unveiled several upgrades to the historic paddock mutuel building, including a new slate roof and rafters. The improvements are intended to ensure the continued preservation of the historically-significant building, which was constructed in 1902 and originally used as a saddling shed during inclement weather.

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The Saratoga Race Course Local Advisory Board also expressed support for the new building.

“The objective of this project is to maintain the historic character of Saratoga Race Course while responding to changes in the sports and entertainment landscape to ensure a sustainable, successful future for racing at Saratoga,” said Saratoga Race Course Local Advisory Board Chairman Joseph A. Torani. “The Saratoga Local Advisory Board strongly endorses the decision by the Franchise Oversight Board to approve construction of this new building which will accomplish these stated goals.”

The new building is the latest in a series of capital improvements at Saratoga Race Course. Since 2013, NYRA has invested more than $30 million at Saratoga in efforts to enhance the guest experience and provide amenities that are consistent with those available at first-class stadiums and arenas.

These efforts are most recently demonstrated through the creation of The Stretch, Saratoga’s newest hospitality area located in the grandstand at the Top of the Stretch, which will debut on opening day of the 2018 meet.

The Stretch will feature modern and upscale amenities in a casual environment with breathtaking views of thoroughbreds rounding the final turn as they enter the dramatic stretch drive. Highlights of the area include three types of boxes available in multiple configurations, a dining tier, reserved bar seats, and approximately 200 premium reserved seats.

Additionally, guests now enjoy more than 1,000 new high-definition televisions throughout Saratoga Race Course; 950 picnic tables available for free on a first-come, first-serve basis in the backyard; new high-definition video boards in the backyard and infield; enhanced Wi-Fi and sound systems; a renovated and redesigned Saratoga Family Zone; and new attractions and hospitality areas such as the Saratoga Walk of Fame, Fourstardave Sports Bar and Easy Goer.

The 2018 meet at Saratoga Race Course will 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 $18.8 million in purses, will run from Friday, July 20, through Labor Day, Monday, September 3. After opening weekend, racing will be conducted six days a week, Wednesdays through Mondays. For more information about Saratoga Race Course, visit www.NYRA.com/Saratoga.

Source: NYRA

Trainer Graham Motion Loaded for Belmont Stakes Week

Belmont Park horse racingTrainer Graham Motion is looking to field an eclectic assortment of horses during the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival, from the up-and-coming 3-year-old Rugbyman, who is entered in the $150,000 Easy Goer on Belmont Stakes Day, to the stalwart Augustin Stable homebred Spring Quality, who at age 6 will be making his first Grade 1 appearance in the $1 million Woodford Reserve Manhattan at 1 ¼ miles on the turf.

Motion also is pointing Lady Alexandra, who won the License Fee in her first start for him, to the Grade 3, $200,000 Intercontinental on opening day of the Festival, Thursday, June 7; European import Esquisse to the Grade 2, $600,000 New York presented by NYRA Bets on Friday and Serena’s Song winner Bernedto the Grade 1, $750,000 Ogden Phipps on Belmont Stakes Day.

Rugbyman, a gray son of Tapit bred and owned by Wertheimer Et Frere, finished a closing third in his debut on April 13 and followed that with a rousing 14-length maiden victory over older horses at a mile at Belmont Park.

“He was impressive enough in his maiden victory to consider a stake for his next start,” said the trainer. “A lot will depend on how be breezes on Friday.”

Spring Quality, a son of Quality Road out of the Deputy Minister mare Spring Star, made a single appearance at age 2, winning a seven-furlong maiden at Keeneland, then reappeared in the spring as a 4-year-old to take an optional claimer at Tampa Bay Downs. Given more time off, he finally began racing on a consistent basis in 2017, notching his first graded stakes win in November in his second start on turf in the Grade 3 Red Smith Handicap at Aqueduct Racetrack.

In his first start this year, he was beaten less than a length by fellow Manhattan hopeful Robert Bruce in the Grade 3 Fort Marcy.

“He had little niggling issues that kept him away from the races, but knowing he had the ability, his owner [George Strawbridge] was very patient with him,” said Motion, noting Spring Quality has won five of 10 starts, with three seconds. “I always thought he could be a grass horse, but he was running so well on dirt I didn’t move him [until the second half of 2017].”

Nilsen's analysis

Spring Quality was entered in the Robellino at Penn National in August, which wound up coming off the turf and which he won by a neck. He followed that by finishing second in the Roanoke at Parx, and an encouraging fourth in the Grade 2 Knickerbocker at 1 1/8 miles at Belmont.

“Looking back, maybe I should have moved him [onto turf] earlier,” said Motion. “That being said, I’ve always had this race in mind for him, and the timing of the Fort Marcy was perfect.”

Lady Alexandra, who was purchased last year for $375,000 by the Heider Family Stables at the Horses of Racing Age Sale at Keeneland following an optional claiming victory at Belmont in June, made one subsequent start at Saratoga for trainer Tom Proctor, finishing eighth in the Coronation Cup. Sent to Motion over the winter, she trained forwardly and made her 4-year-old debut a winning one with a 3 ½-length score in the License Free going six furlongs.

“I was extremely impressed with her performance in that race,” Motion said.

Esquisse, who arrived in Motion’s barn in late fall of 2017, finished third, beaten 1 ¼ lengths in a one-mile allowance in April at Keeneland and second, one length back, in an optional claimer on May 18 at Belmont.

“Her races here have been very good,” said Motion of the British-bred daughter of Dansili. “Perhaps she’s showing more in the morning than in the afternoons. Her mother [the Rahy mare Legerate] ran 1 ½ miles, so perhaps the difference might be the extra quarter-mile.”

Berned, owned by Robert Masiello and West Point Thoroughbreds, would be making her third Grade 1 appearance in the 1 1/16-mile Ogden Phipps, having finished fourth in the Coaching Club American Oaks at Saratoga last summer and seventh in the Starlet at Laurel Race Course as a 2-year-old while under the care of Tom Albertrani.

The Bernardini filly is 1-0-1 this year, with a third-place finish in the Grade 2 Barbara Fricthie at Laurel and a sixth in the Grade 3 Distaff Handicap at Aqueduct.

“This would be a big step up for her,” said Motion. “A lot will depend on who is running.”

Source: NYRA