The New York Racing Association, which announced it would cut $4.3 million in stakes purses from last year, has slashed around $1.4 million from its stakes program for the upcoming Belmont and Saratoga meets.
According to a schedule that was released March 4, the Saratoga meet, which has been expanded from 36 to 40 days, will include 52 stakes worth $10.9 million, down 2.6% from the 48 stakes worth $11.2 million in 2009.
The most notable change is that the Ruffian Stakes (gr. I), which had always been run at the Belmont fall meet, has been moved to Aug. 1 this year and will replace the Go For Wand Handciap (gr. II), which is on hiatus.
Also, the distance of the Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I), which will be contested at Saratoga July 24, went from 1 1/4 miles last year to 1 1/8 miles this year.
Other changes are as follows:
--The First Flight (gr. II), Peter Pan (gr. II), Tom Fool (gr. II), Nassau County (gr. III), Poker (gr. III), all run during the Belmont spring/summer meet, are also on hiatus. The Dwyer (gr. II) has been moved to May 8 to replace the Peter Pan. The Bed o’ Roses (gr. III), run at Aqueduct in 2009, has been moved to July 5 to replace the First Flight.
--For Belmont Park’s spring/summer meet, the Metropolitan Handicap (gr. I), Suburban Handicap (gr. I), and New York Handicap (gr. IIT) all have purse reductions of $100,000, while the Ogden Phipps Handicap (gr. I), Mother Goose (gr. I), Prioress (gr. I), and Vagrancy Handicap (gr. II) are down $50,000.
--For Saratoga’s meet, the Alabama and Personal Ensign (both gr. I) will have purse reductions of $100,000 from 2009, while the King’s Bishop, Ballerina, Forego, Coaching Club American Oaks, Test, Ruffian Handicap, Spinaway, Three Chimneys Hopeful (all gr. I), Albany, Cab Calloway, and Statue of Liberty are down $50,000, and the A.P. Smithwick Memorial is down $25,000.
--The following races had their distances changed for 2010: Mother Goose goes to 1 1/16th miles (previously 1 1/8 miles), and Suburban Handicap moves to 1 1/8miles (previously 1 1/4 miles).
Saratoga, which opens July 24, is highlighted by the Aug. 28 Travers Stakes (gr. I). The King’s Bishop, Ballerina, Victory Ride, and Ballston Spa are also slated for that day.
Saratoga concludes Labor Day weekend (Sept. 4-6) with the grade I Woodward, Forego, Spinaway, and Hopeful as the key races on those cards.
The Belmont Stakes (gr. I), the third leg of the Triple Crown, will be held June 5 as the highlight of the Belmont spring/summer meet. The card also includes grade I Woodford Reserve Manhattan Handicap, Just A Game, and Acorn Stakes.
Belmont’s season begins Memorial Day, May 31, with the Met Mile. Other grade I races during the spring/summer meet include the Ogden Phipps Handicap June 12, the Mother Goose June 26, and the Man o’ War July 10.