OZONE PARK, N.Y. – The New York Racing Association today released its stakes schedule for the 2015 spring/summer meet at Belmont Park, featuring 60 stakes races worth $18.55 million throughout the course of the 59-day meet.
The centerpiece of the meet will be the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival, expanded to three days and anchored by the 147th running of the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes on June 6. The 1 ½ mile Belmont – the coveted final jewel of racing’s Triple Crown – will be supported by a blockbuster card that includes five other Grade 1 races: The $1.25 million Metropolitan Handicap at a mile, the $1 million Manhattan at 1 ¼ miles on the turf, the $1 million Ogden Phipps for fillies and mares 4-years-old and up at 1 1/16 miles, the $750,000 Acorn for 3-year-old fillies and the $700,000 Longines Just a Game at a mile for turf fillies and mares, 4-years-old and up.
Also that day will be the Grade 2, $500,000 Woody Stephens for 3-year-olds going seven furlongs; the Grade 2, $400,000 Brooklyn Invitational for for 4-year-olds and up going 1 ½ miles; the Grade 3, $300,000 Jaipur Invitational for turf sprinters 4-years-old and up, and the $150,000, 1 1/16-mile Easy Goer for sophomores.
With the Belmont Stakes Draw scheduled on Wednesday, June 3 at Rockefeller Center in Manhattan, an abbreviated week will kick off on June 4 with the $150,000 Intercontinental for turf fillies and mares going seven furlongs and an enhanced edition of the 5 ½-furlong Astoria for 2-year-old fillies, which this year boasts a purse of $250,000.
On Friday, June 5, the festival continues as Belmont Park will offer five stakes races worth $1.2 million, including the Grade 2, $300,000 New York for turf fillies and mares going 1 ¼ miles and the Grade 2, $250,000 True North at six furlongs for 4-year-olds and up. Supporting the graded stakes are the $250,000 Belmont Gold Cup Invitational for 4-year-olds and up at two miles on the turf, the $150,000 Jersey Girl for 3-year-old filly sprinters, and the Astoria’s twin race, the 5 ½-furlong Tremont for juveniles, also with a purse of $250,000.
“We are building our 2-year-old program out in a different direction and are pleased to offer the Tremont and Astoria as part of the new Belmont Stakes Racing Festival,” said Martin Panza, Senior Vice-President of Racing Operations for the New York Racing Association. “With the increase in purses, these are the two strongest juvenile races in the country in this time frame.”
The second “must-see” event of the Belmont spring/summer meet will be the return of the popular Stars & Stripes Festival on Saturday, July 4. Launched in 2014, the internationally themed day will once again feature a pair of prestigious Grade 1 races on the turf for 3-year-olds in the $1.25 million Belmont Derby and the $1 million Belmont Oaks for fillies, both at 1 ¼ miles.
“We’re very proud of the inaugural Stars and Stripes Day as several of the participants went on to prominent seasons, including Adelaide, who later won the Grade 1 Secretariat and Australia’s Cox Plate for trainer Aidan O’Brien, and Toast of New York, who was runner-up in both the Grade 1 Pacific Classic and Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic,” said Panza. “We are confident this year’s festival will be even bigger and better.”
Joining the Grade 3, $400,000 Belmont Sprint Championship on the Stars & Stripes card this year will be the $150,000 Victory Ride for 3-year-old fillies going 6 ½ furlongs and the Grade 3, $500,000 Dwyer for 3-year-olds, which in addition to gaining a purse boost has been shortened to a one-turn mile.
“Heading into the second half of the year, there were no mile races for 3-year-olds,” said Panza. “The addition of this race can only serve to strengthen our Stars and Stripes Day card.”
The stakes offerings begin on Belmont Park’s opening day, Wednesday, April 29, with the $100,000 Elusive Quality for 4-year-olds and up going seven furlongs on the turf. A trio of graded stakes will be held on Kentucky Derby Day, Saturday, May 2: the Grade 3, $150,000 Westchester at a mile, the Grade 3, $150,000 Fort Marcy for 4-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles on the turf and the Grade 2, $200,000 Sheepshead Bay for older fillies and mares going 1 3/8 miles on the turf.
The first Grade 1 event of the meet is the $400,000 Man o’ War at 1 3/8 miles on the turf, the highlight of a spectacular May 9 card that includes the Grade 2, $250,000 Ruffian Handicap at a mile for older fillies and mares, the Grade 2, $200,000 Peter Pan for 3-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles, and the Grade 3, $150,000 Beaugay for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on the turf.
Memorial Day, Monday, May 25 will serve as the new date for the spring edition of New York Showcase Day for New York-breds, offering six stakes worth $900,000, highlighted by the $200,000 Commentator at a mile.
The Grade 1, $300,000 Mother Goose at 1 1/16 miles will be held on Saturday, June 27, and the meet will wrap up with a trio of New York-bred stakes: the one-mile, $100,000 Saginaw for 4-year-olds and the six-furlong, $125,000 Rockville Centre for juveniles on Saturday, July 18 and the six-furlong, $125,000 Lynbrook for juvenile fillies on closing day, Sunday, July 19.