Two historic stakes for 2-year-olds, the Saratoga Special (gr. II) and the Adirondack (gr. II), both run for the first time in 1901, have been dropped from the schedule for the 2004 season at Saratoga Race Course.
The Saratoga Special for males and the Adirondack for females were the middle races in the Saratoga series for juveniles that began with the Schuylerville (gr. II) and Sanford (gr. II) and concluded with the Spinaway (gr. II) and Hopeful (gr. I). In the New York Racing Association's $9.895-million stakes program for Saratoga, the Spinaway and the Hopeful to the middle of the meet from the final weekend. The changes came after the American Grade Stakes Committee dropped the Spinaway, and the Futurity at Belmont Park, from grade I to grade II status.
"We eliminated the Saratoga Special and the Adirondack in an effort to strengthen the overall 2-year-old program," NYRA racing secretary Mike Lakow said. "Having a stakes race every two weeks up there, we felt, was weakening the fields for the Hopeful and the Spinaway. We believe the Hopeful and Spinaway will now have stronger fields, and by moving them up earlier in the meet, the timing is better for the horses and the horsemen to run them back at Belmont in the Futurity (gr. II) and the Matron (gr. I)."
The Spinaway will be run on Friday, Aug. 20, and the Hopeful is scheduled for the following day, on the Alabama (gr. I) program.
To make room for the Hopeful on the program with the grade I the Saratoga Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) was pushed back a day to the Sunday, Aug. 22. The purse was cut by $50,000 to $250,000.
Other changes made in the 36-day Saratoga season, which begins on Wednesday, July 28 with the Schuylerville (gr. II), the first of 30 graded stakes:
The purses for the Spinaway, the Honorable Miss and the King's Bishop were increased by $50,000. With a purse of $250,000, the King's Bishop remains at the minimum level for a Grade I race.
Two New York Stallion Stakes races with purses of $250,000 each, the Cab Calloway and the Statue of Liberty, were switched from Belmont Park to Saratoga. Their distances were increased from a 1 1/16 miles to 1 1/8 miles.
The grade II Alfred G. Vanderbilt, a six-furlong sprint, was moved ahead a day to provide a stakes double-header with the grade I Sword Dancer on Saturday, Aug. 14.
The Travers (gr. I) program on Saturday, Aug. 28, lost one of its four graded stakes, the grade III Ballston Spa, which will be run on Monday. Aug. 30. Replacing the Ballston Spa is the ungraded Victory Ride.
A total of eight stakes with purses of $65,000 were added to the weekday schedule, providing at least one stakes race every day of the meeting.