SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – The 146th Saratoga Race Course meet will feature a record $17.45 million in stakes purses, topped by the Grade 1, $1.25 Travers on Saturday, August 23 and the Grade 1, $1.5 million Whitney on Saturday, August 2.
Both the 1 ¼-mile Travers for 3-year-olds and the 1 1/8-mile Whitney for 3-year-olds and up received significant purse increases over their 2013 levels, having been previously worth $1 million and $750,000, respectively.
The 145th running of the Travers is one of four stakes scheduled for August 23 and shares the card with the Grade 1, $500,000 Ketel One King’s Bishop for 3-year-old sprinters, the Grade 1, $500,000 Ballerina for filly and mare sprinters, and the Grade 2, $250,000 Ballston Spa for filly and mare turf horses. The 2013 Travers went to Will Take Charge, who later was named Champion Three-Year-Old Male.
Another blockbuster day of stakes action on the schedule is August 2, with the Whitney, one of North America’s premier races for older males on the dirt, topping a card that includes five stakes. Joining the Whitney Day program this year will be the Grade 1, $500,000 Test for 3-year-old fillies, the Grade 1, $350,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap for older sprinters, and the $100,000 Lure stakes. The $100,000 De La Rose will also once again be part of the Whitney Day festivities.
Sunday, August 24 will be dedicated to the best New York-breds as Saratoga will host the inaugural Saratoga Showcase Day, featuring the Albany, West Point presented by Truscto Bank, Yaddo, Fleet Indian, Funny Cide, and Seeking the Ante.
In total, Saratoga Race Course will host 33 graded flat races, including 15 Grade 1 events. Opening weekend will feature two Grade 1 races: the $500,000 Diana for fillies and mares on the turf on Saturday, July 19 and the $300,000 Coaching Club American Oaks for 3-year-old fillies on Sunday, July 20.
Three-year-olds will have the spotlight on Saturday, July 26 as they will compete in the Grade 2, $600,000 Jim Dandy at 1 1/8 miles and the Grade 2, $200,000 Amsterdam at 6 ½ furlongs. In the past 10 years, seven horses have used the Jim Dandy as a springboard to a victory in the Travers.
The Grade 2, $500,000 Fourstardave Handicap, won the past two years by two-time reigning Horse of the Year Wise Dan, is the featured race on August 9. The Fourstardave is a one-mile turf race for 3-year-olds and up.
The 1 1/8-mile Coaching Club American Oaks precedes the Grade 1, $600,000 Alabama, New York’s top race for 3-year-old fillies. The 1 ¼-mile Alabama is scheduled for Saturday, August 16. The Grade 2, $300,000 Lake Placid, also for 3-year-old fillies, will be contested on the turf as part of the Alabama undercard.
The final Saturday, August 30, will include four stakes, topped by the $600,000 Woodward for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles. Older males also will compete in the Grade 1, $500,000 Forego at seven furlongs on the main track and in the Grade 2, $250,000 Bernard Baruch on the turf. Sophomore fillies will sprint in the Grade 2, $300,000 Prioress.
Completing the list of Grade 1 races on the flat are the $500,000 Sword Dancer Invitational on Sunday, August 17, the $350,000 Spinaway on Sunday, August 31, and the $350,000 Hopeful on closing day, Monday, September 1.
“This exciting stakes menu will ensure that Saratoga Race Course again hosts the finest race meeting in North America, and our enhanced Whitney Day reflects our desire to make it one of the most significant days on the national racing calendar,” said Chris Kay, CEO and President of The New York Racing Association, Inc. “Our new racing personnel, led by Senior Vice President of Racing Operations Martin Panza and Racing Secretary Frank Gabriel Jr., are working every day to improve the quality of racing – as reflected in this powerful collection of outstanding races.”
Saratoga will also host a pair of Grade 1 steeplechase races: the $100,000 A.P. Smithwick Memorial on Thursday, July 31, and the $150,000 New York Turf Writers Cup run in memory of Thomas H. Voss.