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A summer fixture on the New York horse racing calendar, Saratoga Race Course is one of the most celebrated racetracks in the United States. Each year, horseplayers eagerly anticipate the opportunity to handicap and bet the races from Saratoga, which are supported by the top horse owners, trainers and jockeys in America. Such star power ensures that the horses at Saratoga are among the best in the world. The Saratoga stakes schedule is one of the most extensive in the United States, and includes the Travers Stakes, Whitney Handicap, Woodward Stakes, Forego Handicap, Alabama Stakes, King's Bishop Stakes, Hopeful Stakes and Coaching Club American Oaks.
Two of the biggest days in North American racing will highlight the historic 147th meet at Saratoga Race Course, with the Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers the centerpiece of a supercharged Travers Day and the Grade 1, $1.25 million Whitney Handicap anchoring five stakes on Saturday, August 8 as part of the Fasig-Tipton Festival of Racing.
The 40-day meet, which includes 69 stakes worth a record $18.7 million in purses, will run from Friday, July 24, through Labor Day, Monday, September 7. After opening weekend, racing will be conducted six days a week, Wednesdays through Mondays.
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Joining the 146th running of the Mid-Summer Derby for 3-year-olds on Travers Day, Saturday, August 29 will be five other Grade 1 stakes, including the 1 ½-mile Sword Dancer Invitational on the turf, whose purse has been enhanced to $1 million. Also added to the card and receiving purse hikes are the $750,000, 1 1/8-mile Personal Ensign for fillies and mares and the $700,000 Forego Handicap at seven furlongs. Rounding out the stellar card are the $500,000 Ballerina Stakes for fillies and mares and the $500,000 King's Bishop, both at seven furlongs, and the Grade 2, $400,000 Ballston Spa Handicap for turf fillies and mares.
"We have made improvements to Travers Day to keep in line with the creation of our 'must-see' events," said Martin Panza, Senior Vice President of Racing Operations for the New York Racing Association. "We are developing Travers Day into a national event - a mini Breeders' Cup - by increasing the purses for the Personal Ensign and the Forego. By including the Sword Dancer and raising the purse to $1 million we hope to create international involvement in that race."
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The traditional local prep for the Travers, the Grade 2, $600,000 Jim Dandy Stakes, will be held on Saturday, August 1.
During the August 8th - August 9th Fasig-Tipton Festival of Racing, the prestigious 1 1/8-mile Whitney will pair with the Grade 1, $500,000 Test for 3-year-old fillies atop the festival card, which also offers the Grade 3, $200,000 Fasig-Tipton Waya for turf fillies and mares going 1 1/2 miles. Also on August 8 are two additional turf stakes: the $100,000 Lure at 1 1/16 miles and the $100,000 Fasig-Tipton De La Rose at a mile for fillies and mares.
Additions to the Spa stakes schedule include the Grade 2, $250,000 Bowling Green at 1 3/8 miles on the turf on Saturday, August 1, which will serve as a prep for the Sword Dancer, and two new juvenile turf stakes at 5 1/2 furlongs: the $100,000 Bolton Landing for fillies on Wednesday, August 19, and the $100,000 Schenectady on Friday, August 21.
"Both of these 2-year-old turf stakes were created with a look ahead to the Breeders' Cup," said Panza.
A prelude to the Travers will be New York Breeders' Showcase Day, which will be moved to Friday, August 28, instead of on Sunday. The popular state-bred card will include six stakes, highlighted by the $250,000 Albany for 3-year-olds going 1 1/8 miles.
Opening Day, Friday, July 24 will kick off with a pair of graded stakes: the Grade 3, $150,000 Schuylerville Stakes for 2-year-old fillies and the Grade 3, $200,000 Lake George Stakes for 3-year-old turf fillies. Continuing the traditional juvenile dirt stakes are the Grade 3, $150,000 Sanford Stakes on Saturday, July 25; the Grade 2, $200,000 Toyota Saratoga Special on Sunday, August 16 and the Grade 1, $350,000 Hopeful on Monday, September 7, along with their sister races: the Grade 2, $200,000 Adirondack Stakes on Saturday, August 15 and the Grade 1, $350,000 Spinaway Stakes on Saturday, September 5.
Grade 1 action commences with the $500,000 Diana for turf fillies and mares on Saturday, July 25, and the $300,000 Coaching Club American Oaks for 3-year-old fillies on Sunday, July 26. Continuing the world-class Grade 1 offerings are the $350,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap for sprinters on Saturday, August 1; the aforementioned Whitney and Longines Test on August 8; the Grade 1, $600,000 Alabama Stakes on Saturday, August 22, and the Travers, Sword Dancer, Personal Ensign, Forego, Ballerina and King's Bishop on Saturday, August 29.
Closing weekend Grade 1 features include the $600,000 Woodward Stakes for 3-year-olds and up and the Spinaway on Saturday, September 5, along with the Hopeful on Monday, September 7.
The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) has announced that it will offer at least a $500,000 Guaranteed Late Pick 4 on Saturdays at Saratoga Race Course, with increased guarantees on Travers Day (August 29, $1 million), Whitney Day (August 8, $750,000) and Woodward Day (September 5, $750,000).
Although NYRA offers daily Pick 4's on races 2 - 5 and the final four races of the day, the $500,000 guarantee applies only to the Late Pick 4 on Saturdays at Saratoga Race Course. The Late Pick 4 is a 50 cent minimum wager in which the bettor must correctly pick the winners of the last four races on the card, usually beginning with race eight.
Additionally: On Whitney Day, August 8, a $400,000 guaranteed Pick 5 will begin in race 1 and a $250,000 guaranteed Pick 6 will begin in race 6. The Pick 4 will begin in race 8, with a guarantee of $750,000 in conjunction with the running of the prestigious Grade 1, $1.25 million Whitney Handicap. The Whitney is supported by Grade 1, $500,000 Test for 3-year-old fillies atop the festival card.
On Travers Day, August 29, a $400,000 guaranteed Pick 5 will begin in race 1 and a $250,000 guaranteed Pick 6 in race 6. The Pick 4 will begin in race 8, with a guarantee of $1 million in conjunction with the 145th running of the Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers Stakes. The Mid-Summer Derby for 3-year-olds is supported by several Grade 1's, including the $1 million, 1 ½-mile Sword Dancer Invitational on the turf.
On Saturday September 5, the Pick 4 will begin in race 9, with a guarantee of $750,000 in conjunction with the running of the Grade 1, $600,000 Woodward. The Woodward is supported by the Grade 1, $350,000 Spinaway for 2-year-old fillies atop the day's card.
By guaranteeing the wagers, NYRA will supplement the difference of the gross pool minimums if either pool is less than the advertised amount.
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