The New York Racing Association released the stakes schedule for Aqueduct 2012 winter/spring meet, with the $1 million Resorts World Casino New York City Wood Memorial (gr. I) April 7, the centerpiece of 13 graded stakes worth $3.75 million for the 79-day meet beginning Jan. 1.
The $3.75 million in graded stakes purses represents a 44% increase over the $2.6 million in graded stakes purses during the 2011 winter/spring meet, which had 11 graded stakes.
The increase in purses is possible due to the opening of Genting’s Resorts World Casino New York City at Aqueduct. During the first year of the casino’s operations, 6.5% of the revenue from the Video Lottery Terminals must go to NYRA’s purse structure.
Two graded races returning to the Aqueduct stakes schedule after a year hiatus are the $200,000 Withers (gr. III) for 3-year-olds, which will be run Feb. 4, and the $200,000 Top Flight (gr. II) for 3-year-old and up fillies and mares, which will be run March 3.
The Withers will be run on a card with the $150,000 Toboggan (gr. III) for sprinters and will serve as a prep race for the $400,000 Gotham (gr. III), which will be run March 3, on a card with the Top Flight and the $200,000 Tom Fool (gr. III) for sprinters. The purse for the Gotham this year was $150,000.
The 88th running of the Wood will be featured on NBC’s “Road to the Kentucky Derby” series, airing April 7 from 4:30-6 p.m. during a broadcast that will also include live coverage of the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I).
Additional stakes on Wood Day comprise the $400,000 Carter (gr. I) for 3-year-olds & up going seven furlongs, the $250,000 Bay Shore (gr. III) for 3-year-olds going seven furlongs, and the $250,000 Comely (gr. III) for 3-year-old fillies going a mile.
Aqueduct’s slate of graded stakes also includes the $150,000 Cicada (gr. III) March 10, the $150,000 Excelsior (gr. III) March 17, the $200,000 Distaff (gr. II) April 14, and the $200,000 Jerome (gr. II) April 21.
In addition, Aqueduct will offer 16 listed and New York-bred stakes beginning New Year’s Day with the $75,000 Interborough and the $75,000 Ladies.
“We are very excited to announce this enhanced Aqueduct winter stakes schedule,” said NYRA vice president and director of racing P. J. Campo. “Placing the Withers in early February on a card also featuring the Toboggan and Correction creates another marquee day of racing during the meet. Additionally, with the Gotham’s purse increased to $400,000 to go along with the addition of the Withers, our 3-year-old stakes program is on par with any track in the country.”
The Aqueduct winter/spring stakes schedule, which was approved by the NYRA Board of Directors, now awaits approval from the New York State Racing and Wagering Board.
The remainder of the 2012 NYRA stakes schedule will be announced at a later date.