The New York Racing Association board of directors’ racing committee announced July 3 the field size of 2-year-old maiden races at sprint distances during the upcoming Saratoga Race Course meet will be limited to eight starters. The field size for two-turn juvenile maiden races will be limited to 10 starters.
“The catalyst behind limiting the field sizes in the maiden races for juveniles was two-fold,” said NYRA vice president and director of racing P. J. Campo in a release. “The smaller fields are expected to produce more cleanly run events while also creating the opportunity to showcase more high-quality races during the meet and beyond. We expect this change will strengthen NYRA's juvenile stakes and allowance programs by helping horses gain the experience they need to compete successfully at higher levels.”
“Protecting our horses is an important mandate,” added New York Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association president and NYRA board member Rick Violette Jr. in a statement. “Larger fields of inexperienced, young horses often result in roughly run races. This approach will offer a kinder, gentler and, perhaps, wiser introduction to racing for young horses, and could, in fact, extend their careers.
“Owners will have a better opportunity to fairly evaluate the performances of their horses in manageable fields,” he continued. “This also will increase the chance that young horses will improve mentally and physically from their first races, rather than having to recover from them.”
The 40-day Saratoga meet commences for the 144th time on Friday, July 20, with a card featuring the Schuylerville (gr. III) for 2-year-old fillies and the James Marvin (gr. III) for sprinters.
There will be live racing six days a week, Wednesday through Monday. The 143rd running of the $1 million Travers (gr. I) is set for Saturday, August 25 with an undercard including the grade I Foxwoods King’s Bishop, Test, and the grade II Ballston Spa. The Saratoga meet concludes on Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 3, featuring the Three Chimneys Hopeful (gr. II) for 2-year-old colts.