Big A to Feature 16 Graded Stakes During Winter/Spring Meet

Aqueduct is gearing up for its 2004 Winter/Spring meeting, which opens Jan. 1. The 49-day Winter Meet will run through March 7, followed by the 38-day Spring Meet from March 10-May 2.

Aqueduct will offer 34 stakes races, with 16 being graded. The April 10 Wood Memorial and Carter Handicap, both are grade I events. In all, the stakes program at Aqueduct will be worth $4.4 million.

The only significant change in the 2004 Aqueduct Winter/Spring schedule is the placing of the $200,000 Gotham (gr. III), which will be run on March 20. The one-turn, one-mile race on the main track for 3-year-olds is a major prep for the Wood Memorial -- in 2004 it will now be contested three weeks before the Wood.

"We felt it would benefit the horsemen that are returning from Florida to have the Gotham moved back," said New York Racing Association Secreatary/Handicapper Mike Lakow. "That would allow more horses to come back from the 3-year-old races in Florida and give them a chance to run in the Wood."