The Runhappy Travers Stakes (G1) will be truly living up to its nickname of "The Midsummer Derby" this year.
As part of a revamped Saratoga Race Course schedule, the 1 1/4-mile Travers has been moved up three weeks to an Aug. 8 date with a $1 million purse as the centerpiece of a 71-stakes schedule worth $14.45 million for the 40-day meet July 16-Sept. 7.
The Travers is usually held on the final Saturday in August, but a change became necessary when the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) was switched to Sept. 5 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jack Knowlton, managing partner of the Sackatoga Stable syndicate which owns Belmont Stakes (G1) favorite Tiz the Law, said the seven-week gap between the June 20 opening leg of the Triple Crown and the Travers is a perfect fit for his 3-year-old.
"It's the date we had heard and that timing is great. It will give us plenty of time after the Belmont Stakes and then four weeks to the Kentucky Derby," said Knowlton, a Saratoga resident whose group won the 2003 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes (G1) with Funny Cide. "We're excited and hoping that Tiz the Law can stay healthy and run in the Travers, which is the race we had the most regrets about missing with Funny Cide because he got sick beforehand."
Though Monmouth Park announced June 18 it would offer a $1 million bonus to a 3-year-old who could sweep the July 18 TVG.com Haskell Invitational Stakes (G1), Kentucky Derby and Longines Breeders' Cup Classic (G1), Knowlton said he is sticking with plans to run Tiz the Law in the Belmont Stakes, followed by the Travers and Kentucky Derby.
"We plotted out that course long ago, going back to after he won the Champagne Stakes (G1). Obviously the order changed, but the Travers has always been one of the races we would point for if Tiz the Law could take us there," Knowlton said.
The Travers, one of the year's premier stakes for 3-year-olds, will top a card that includes two $300,000, seven-furlong top-level stakes, the Ballerina Handicap (G1) for fillies and mares and the Longines Test Stakes (G1) for 3-year-old fillies.
Also on that card will be the $200,000 Troy Stakes (G3T) at 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf and the $150,000 Waya Stakes (G3T) for fillies and mares at 1 1/2 miles on the turf.
The $500,000 Alabama Stakes (G1) for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/4 miles, one of 18 grade 1 stakes during the meet, will be contested Aug. 15.
The $750,000 Whitney Stakes (G1) for older horses highlights an Aug. 1 card with three grade 1 stakes. The $500,000 Personal Ensign Stakes (G1), a 1 1/8-mile race for fillies and mares that could bring Midnight Bisou and Monomoy Girl together, has been moved to that card after being contested Aug. 24 last year.
The $300,000 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial Stakes Presented by Runhappy (G1), a seven-furlong test for 3-year-olds, is also new to the first Saturday in August, having been run on Travers Day in the past.
The $250,000 Bowling Green Stakes (G2T), at 1 3/8 miles on turf, and the $200,000 Caress Stakes at 5 1/2 furlongs on turf for fillies and mares will also be part of the Aug. 1 program.
The $500,000 Woodward Handicap (G1) remains the headliner of the final Saturday card of the meet (Sept. 5) but will be extended to 1 1/4 miles from nine furlongs.
The program scheduled on Kentucky Derby Day will also include the $150,000 Jim Dandy Stakes (G2) at 1 1/8 miles for 3-year-olds. The Jim Dandy was usually run in July as a steppingstone to the Travers.
Instead, the $100,000 Peter Pan Stakes (G3), typically a prep for the Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets (G1), will be run on the opening day July 16 card. The race is for 3-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles.
The New York Racing Association's Turf Triple for 3-year-olds normally starts in July at Belmont Park but will get underway Aug. 15 with the $500,000 Saratoga Derby Invitational Stakes at 1 3/16 miles on turf, followed by the Aug. 16 Saratoga Oaks Invitational Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at the same distance.
The Sept. 4 card will feature six stakes restricted to New York-breds.
The $350,000 Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles tops the first Saturday card July 18. The $500,000 Diana Stakes (G1T) for fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles on turf was shifted from the opening weekend to Aug. 23.
The other Saturday top-level stakes are the $250,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap (G1) July 25, the $400,000 Fourstardave Handicap (G1T) Aug. 22, and the $500,000 Sword Dancer Stakes (G1T) and $300,000 Forego Stakes (G1), both Aug. 29.
The closing days of the meet will offer the premier stakes for 2-year-olds, the $250,000 Spinaway Stakes (G1) for fillies Sept. 6 and the $250,000 Runhappy Hopeful Stakes (G1) Sept. 7. Both will be Lasix-free.
Racing will be conducted on a Wednesday through Sunday basis, except for the opening and closing weeks.
|DATE||RACE||GRADE||2020 PURSE||AGE||DISTANCE||CONDITION NOTES|
|July 16||Schuylerville Stakes||3||$100,000||F2YO||6 Furlongs||Lasix-Free|
|July 16||Peter Pan Stakes||3||$100,000||3YO||1 1/8 Miles|
|July 17||Shine Again Stakes||$85,000||F&M 4&UP||7 Furlongs||NW SS other than state-bred|
|July 17||De La Rose Stakes||$85,000||F&M 4&UP||1 Mile (Turf)||NW GSS in 2020|
|July 18||Coaching Club American Oaks||1||$350,000||F3YO||1 1/8 Miles|
|July 18||National Museum of Racing Hall Of Fame Stakes||2||$150,000||3YO||1 1/8 Miles (T)|
|July 19||Lake Placid Stakes||2||$150,000||F3YO||1 1/8 Miles (T)|
|July 22||Lubash Stakes||$85,000||4&UP||1 1/16 Miles (T)||NYB, NW SS|
|July 23||A. P. Smithwick Stakes (Steeplechase)||1||$100,000||4&UP||2 1/16 Miles (T)|
|July 23||New York Stallion Series Statue of Liberty Division||$100,000||F3YO||1 1/16 Miles (T)|
|July 24||Quick Call Stakes||3||$100,000||3YO||5 1/2 Furlongs (T)|
|July 25||Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap||1||$250,000||3&UP||6 Furlongs|
|July 25||Ballston Spa Stakes||2||$200,000||F&M 4&UP||1 1/16 Miles (T)|
|July 26||Bernard Baruch Handicap||2||$150,000||3&UP||1 1/16 Miles (T)|
|July 29||Dayatthespa Stakes||$85,000||F&M 4&UP||1 1/16 Miles (T)||NYB, NW SS|
|July 30||John Morrissey Handicap||$85,000||3&UP||7 Furlongs||NYB|
|July 31||Coronation Cup||$100,000||F3YO||5 1/2 Furlongs (T)|
|Aug 1||Whitney Stakes||1||$750,000||4&UP||1 1/8 Miles|
|Aug 1||Personal Ensign Stakes||1||$500,000||F&M 4&UP||1 1/8 Miles|
|Aug 1||H. Allen Jerkens Memorial Stakes||1||$300,000||3YO||7 Furlongs|
|Aug 1||Bowling Green Stakes||2||$250,000||4&UP||1 3/8 Miles (T)|
|Aug 1||Caress Stakes||$200,000||F&M 4&UP||5 1/2 Furlongs (T)|
|Aug 2||Birdstone Stakes||$100,000||4&UP||1 3/4 Miles|
|Aug 5||Summer Colony Stakes||$85,000||F&M 4&UP||1 1/8 Miles||NW GSS in 2020|
|Aug 6||New York Stallion Series Cab Calloway Division||$100,000||3YO||1 1/16 Miles (T)|
|Aug 7||Saratoga Special||2||$150,000||2YO||6 Furlongs||Lasix-Free|
|Aug 8||Runhappy Travers Stakes||1||$1,000,000||3YO||1 1/4 Miles|
|Aug 8||Ballerina Handicap||1||$300,000||F&M 3&UP||7 Furlongs|
|Aug 8||Longines Test Stakes||1||$300,000||F3YO||7 Furlongs|
|Aug 8||Troy Stakes||3||$200,000||4&UP||5 1/2 Furlongs (T)|
|Aug 8||Waya Stakes||3||$150,000||F&M 4&UP||1 1/2 Miles (T)|
|Aug 9||Alydar Stakes||$85,000||4&UP||1 1/8 Miles||NW SS other than state-bred in 2020|
|Aug 12||Adirondack Stakes||1||$150,000||F2YO||6 1/2 Furlongs||Lasix-Free|
|Aug 13||Union Avenue Handicap||$85,000||F&M 3&UP||7 Furlongs|
|Aug 14||Perfect Sting Stakes||$100,000||F&M 4&UP||1 1/16 Miles (T)|
|Aug 15||Saratoga Derby Invitational Stakes||$500,000||3YO||1 3/16 Miles (T)|
|Aug 15||Alabama Stakes||1||$500,000||F3YO||1 1/4 Miles|
|Aug 16||Saratoga Oaks Invitational Stakes||$500,000||F3YO||1 3/16 Miles (T)|
|Aug 19||Bolton Landing Stakes||$85,000||F2YO||5 1/2 Furlongs (T)||Lasix-Free|
|Aug 20||New York Turf Writers Cup (Steeplechase)||1||$100,000||4&UP||2 3/8 Miles (T)|
|Aug 20||Tale of the Cat Stakes||$85,000||4&UP||6 Furlongs||NW GSS|
|Aug 21||Skidmore Stakes||$85,000||2YO||5 1/2 Furlongs (T)||Lasix-Free|
|Aug 22||Fourstardave Handicap||1||$400,000||3&UP||1 Mile (T)|
|Aug 23||Diana Stakes||1||$500,000||F&M 4&UP||1 1/8 Miles (T)|
|Aug 26||Mahony Stakes||$85,000||3YO||5 1/2 Furlongs (T)|
|Aug 27||New York Stallion Series Times Square Division||$100,000||3YO||6 1/2 Furlongs|
|Aug 27||Smart N Fancy Stakes||$85,000||F&M 4&UP||5 1/2 Furlongs (T)|
|Aug 28||Lake George Stakes||3||$100,000||F3YO||1 Mile (T)|
|Aug 29||Sword Dancer Stakes||1||$500,000||4&UP||1 1/2 Miles (T)|
|Aug 29||Forego Stakes||1||$300,000||4&UP||7 Furlongs|
|Aug 29||Amsterdam Stakes||2||$150,000||3YO||6 Furlongs|
|Aug 29||Saranac Stakes||3||$100,000||3YO||1 Mile (T)|
|Aug 30||Shuvee Stakes||3||$125,000||F&M 4&UP||1 1/8 Miles|
|Sept 2||With Anticipation Stakes||3||$100,000||2YO||1 1/16 Miles (T)||Lasix-Free|
|Sept 3||P. G. Johnson Stakes||$100,000||F2YO||1 1/16 Miles (T)||Lasix-Free|
|Sept 3||New York Stallion Series Park Avenue Division||$100,000||F3YO||6 1/2 Furlongs|
|Sept 4||Albany Stakes||$150,000||3YO||1 1/8 Miles||NYB|
|Sept 4||Fleet Indian Stakes||$150,000||F3YO||1 1/8 Miles||NYB|
|Sept 4||Funny Cide Stakes||$150,000||2YO||6 1/2 Furlongs||NYB, Lasix-Free|
|Sept 4||Seeking the Ante Stakes||$150,000||F2YO||6 1/2 Furlongs||NYB, Lasix-Free|
|Sept 4||West Point Handicap||$150,000||3&UP||1 1/16 Miles (T)||NYB|
|Sept 4||Yaddo Handicap||$150,000||F&M 3&UP||1 1/16 Miles (T)||NYB|
|Sept 5||Woodward Handicap||1||$500,000||3&UP||1 1/4 Miles|
|Sept 5||Glens Falls Stakes||2||$200,000||F&M 4&UP||1 3/8 Miles (T)|
|Sept 5||Prioress Stakes||2||$200,000||F3YO||6 Furlongs|
|Sept 5||Jim Dandy Stakes||2||$150,000||3YO||1 1/8 Miles|
|Sept 6||Spinaway Stakes||1||$250,000||F2YO||7 Furlongs||Lasix-Free|
|Sept 6||Honorable Miss Handicap||2||$150,000||F&M 3&UP||6 Furlongs|
|Sept 6||Lucky Coin Stakes||$85,000||4&UP||5 1/2 Furlongs (T)||NW SS in 2020)|
|Sept 7||Runhappy Hopeful Stakes||1||$250,000||2YO||7 Furlongs||Lasix-Free|
|Sept 7||Lure Stakes||$85,000||4&UP||1 1/16 Miles (T)||NW GSS in 2020|