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Aqueduct Racetrack, known as the Big A, is a thoroughbred horse-racing facility located in the neighborhood of Ozone Park in the New York City borough of Queens. It is typically active for racing from November through April.
Located near the site of a former conduit of the Brooklyn Water Works that brought water from Long Island to the Ridgewood Reservoir, Aqueduct Racetrack was opened on September 27, 1894 by the Queens County Jockey Club. The facility was expanded and a new clubhouse was constructed before the start of the summer meet in 1941. In 1955, the Greater New York Association took over the racetrack along with Belmont Park, Jamaica Racetrack, and Saratoga Race Course and decided to make major upgrades to Aqueduct, after which Jamaica Racetrack would be sold for redevelopment as a housing project. The racetrack closed in 1956 and reopened on September 14, 1959 after $33 million of renovations designed by noted racetrack architect Arthur Froehlich of the architecture firm, Arthur Froehlich and Associates of Beverly Hills, California. The Equestris Restaurant in the clubhouse opened in 1981 and was the largest restaurant in New York City at the time. Additional renovations were made in 2001, 2006 and 2007.
Before 1976, the Inner Dirt Track was a turf course and it was known as the Main Turf Course, with the lone present turf course bearing the name of the Inner Turf Course; following the conclusion of racing in 1975 the grass on the Main Turf Course was uprooted and the Inner Dirt Track took its place to permit year-round racing. (In the first few years after Aqueduct was rebuilt in 1959 the track lay idle from early November until April 1; by 1971 this period had been reduced to from shortly before Christmas until March 1, and in the latter year off-track betting began in New York City, creating a demand for horse racing to be contested in the region throughout the year).
Today a single meeting is held annually at Aqueduct; it typically begins on the last Wednesday in October and runs all the way through the first Sunday in May. Races are run on the Inner Dirt Track between the Wednesday after Thanksgiving and right before the Wood Memorial in recent years. Prior to 1977, a summer meeting was also conducted at Aqueduct, running from mid-June to the end of July. From 1963 through 1967, races normally run at Belmont Park (including the Belmont Stakes) were run at Aqueduct instead while Belmont's grandstand was being rebuilt. The Wood Memorial is currently the marquee race, which culminates the winter meet. The Remsen and Cigar Mile are major races that commence the winter meet just after Thanksgiving. The prestigious Jockey Club Gold Cup was usually run there between 1958 and 1974, and what was perhaps the track's most distinctive race, the marathon 21/4 miles (3.6 km) Display Handicap, was last contested in 1990. The track played host to the second ever Breeders' Cup on November 2, 1985.
Aqueduct is the site of the first, and presently, the only triple dead heat for win in a stakes race. In the 1944 running of the Carter Handicap, Brownie, Bossuet, and Wait A Bit hit the finish line at the same time. On April 8, 2006, during an eleven-race program at Aqueduct that included the Wood Memorial Stakes, a rare event happened when dead heats for each of the three "money" positions (Win, Place and Show) occurred in three separate races: Saint Anddan and Criminal Mind dead-heated for Place in Race 5, Naragansett and Emotrin dead-heated for Show in Race 6, and Karakorum Tuxedo and Megatrend dead-heated for Win in Race 10.
Hall of Fame horse Cigar won the first two races in his sixteen-race win streak at Aqueduct. After switching from grass to dirt, Cigar's first win was by eighth lengths in an allowance race on October 28, 1994 and was followed by a seven length win in the NYRA Mile on November 26, 1994, a Grade 1 race that was renamed in the horse's honor in 1997. On May 31, 1965, 73,375 spectators were on hand at Aqueduct and watched Gun Bow win the Metropolitan Mile. At the time, it was the largest crowd to ever attend a thoroughbred horse racing event in New York. Champion racehorse Secretariat was retired here before the public on November 6, 1973. He was paraded for the last time to the public and took his last steps on a racetrack here. He was then sent to stud at Claiborne Farm.
Pope John Paul II said mass in front of a crowd of 75,000 at Aqueduct on October 6, 1995. Every weekend, a flea market is run in the racetrack's north parking lot, located along Rockaway Boulevard.
Wednesday through Sunday, occasional Mondays and Tuesdays
Main Track:One and one-eighth miles, oval.
Inner Dirt Track:One mile, oval.
Turf Course:Seven furlongs, 43 feet, oval.
Distance from last turn to finish line: 1,155.5 Feet.
|Fall Highweight Handicap||III||$100,000|
|Go For Wand Handicap||II||$150,000|
|Cigar Mile Handicap||I||$250,000|
P.O. Box 90
Jamaica, New York 11417
110th Street and Rockaway Blvd
Ozone Park, NY 11417
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