Schedule includes 45 stakes worth $11.525 million in purse money.
- Courtesy BloodHorse.com
The New York Racing Association announced July 10 the race dates for the 37-day Belmont Park fall meet, including 45 stakes worth $11.525 million in purse money—an increase of $1.45 million over 2018— starting at Belmont Park from Sept. 6 to Oct. 6, and concluding at Aqueduct Racetrack, with Belmont at the Big A from Oct. 11 through Oct.27.
The fall championship meet at Belmont Park will be highlighted by eight Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” qualifiers held over two weekends.
To ensure the continuity of racing operations in New York in light of the construction of a new arena at Belmont Park for the National Hockey League’s New York Islanders, the fall meet will be split between Belmont and Aqueduct and may include adjustments to weekday post times to accommodate construction and better serve the interests of horsemen.
“The redevelopment project at Belmont Park will have a long-lasting and multifaceted positive impact on the surrounding community. In light of the construction, it is important to adjust our calendar to ensure NYRA’s fall racing program will run safely and efficiently for all participants,” said NYRA CEO and president David O’Rourke. “We appreciate the patience of our horsemen, fans and the community and look forward to another outstanding fall season of racing in New York.”
The first 23 days of the Belmont fall meet will be held at Belmont Park, kicking off Sept. 6 for an opening weekend slate highlighted by the third and final legs of the inaugural $5.25 million Turf Triple series.
On Sept. 7, the inaugural edition of the $1 million Jockey Club Derby, a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series race offering a berth in the Longines Turf, will complete the Turf Trinity complemented by the first-ever $750,000 Jockey Club Oaks to conclude the Turf Tiara, both to be aired live across the country on NBC. The stakes-laden card will also include the first running of the $300,000 Grand Prix American Jockey Club Invitational for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/2 miles on Big Sandy.
Belmont’s Jockey Club Gold Cup Racing Festival card on Saturday, September 28 will showcase a pair of “Win and You’re In” races for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships to be held at Santa Anita Parkfrom November 1-2. The grade 1, $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup, contested at 1 1/4 miles, will offer an automatic entry and a fees-paid trip to the $6 million Classic. Also slated for a packed day at Belmont is the grade 1, $300,000 Vosburgh, a six-furlong sprint offering a berth in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. The card also features the grade 2, $300,000 Beldame and the grade 3, $200,000 Pilgrim.
The following weekend, the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Racing Festival will feature five “Win and You’re In” qualifiers beginning on Saturday, Oct. 5 with the grade 1, $500,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic offering a berth into the Breeders’ Cup Turf, and the grade 1, $500,000 Champagne, where the winner will secure a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. The day’s undercard will include the grade 2, $400,000 Hill Prince for 3-year-olds going 1 1/8 miles on turf, the grade 3, $150,000 Matron for juvenile fillies going six furlongs on the turf, and the $150,000 Belmont Turf Sprint Invitational also at six furlongs on grass.
On Oct. 6, three Breeders’ Cup spots will be on the line, as the grade 1, $500,000 Flower Bowl and the grade 1, $400,000 Frizette will award the winners an all-fees-paid berth into the Filly & Mare Turf and Juvenile Fillies divisions, respectively. The grade 3, $150,000 Futurity for 2-year-olds on the turf will award a spot in the Juvenile Turf Sprint to the winner.
The final 14 days of the Belmont fall meet will then shift to Aqueduct Racetrack for Belmont at the Big A on Columbus Day weekend beginning Oct. 11 and featuring live racing through Holiday Monday, Oct. 14.
The Empire State will take the spotlight on Saturday, Oct.19 when the best New York-breds gather at Belmont Park for Empire State Breeders’ Showcase Day to compete in eight stakes races worth $1.75 million, topped by the $300,000 Empire Classic at 1 1/8 miles.
Closing weekend will feature six stakes combined from Oct. 26-27, led by the grade 3, $200,000 Bold Ruler on Saturday and the $125,000 Zagora on closing day.
Following opening weekend, racing at Belmont will be conducted Wednesday through Sunday. Post times will be announced in the near future.
Following opening weekend of Belmont at the Big A, live racing will be conducted Wednesday through Sunday.