NYRA Adds Two Days to Aqueduct Winter Meet

Aqueduct.Scenic.10-7-23.BL_.jpgBarbara D. Livingston

By David Grening

Courtesy Daily Racing Form

There are 47 scheduled days of racing at Aqueduct’s upcoming winter meet — two more than the previous winter — as the New York Racing Association released part of its 2024 racing calendar on Friday.

The winter meet will run from Jan. 1-March 30, with the New Year’s Day program capping a five-day week beginning Dec. 28. From Jan. 4-21, racing will be conducted four days a week (Thursdays through Sundays). From Jan. 26-March 3, racing will be conducted three days a week (Fridays through Sundays), though a Presidents’ Day Monday card will be held on Feb. 19.

Thursday racing returns to the schedule beginning March 7 when racing will again be conducted four days a week with the exception of March 31, when the track will be closed for Easter.

In previous winters, racing was held four days a week in February and three in March, the latter being the month when average field size is at its lowest.

NYRA will offer 26 stakes worth $3.5 million this winter. The usual trio of stakes for 3-year-olds — the Jerome (Jan. 6), the Grade 3, $250,000 Withers (Feb. 3), and the Grade 3, $300,000 Gotham (March 2) all offer qualifying points to the May 4 Kentucky Derby.

Those three races lead to the Grade 2, $750,000 Wood Memorial, another Derby qualifying points race run during the spring meet. Though it has not been officially announced, the Wood is expected to be held on April 6.

Six winter stakes received purse increases, topped by the Interborough (Jan. 20), a listed seven-furlong race for fillies and mares, which went up $50,000 to $150,000. Five stakes received $25,000 purse increases including the Grade 3, $175,000 Toboggan (Feb. 3), the $150,000 Heavenly Prize (Feb. 10), the Grade 3, $175,000 Tom Fool (March 2), the $150,000 Stymie (March 2) and the $150,000 Excelsior (March 30). The Excelsior had previously been run during the spring meet.

The $100,000 Busanda (Jan. 13) and the $200,000 Busher (March 2), both for 3-year-old fillies, offer qualifying points toward the May 3 Kentucky Oaks.

The NYRA is still awaiting approval from the New York Gaming Commission before it releases the remainder of its 2024 racing calendar and stakes schedule.

Already, though, it has been announced that the Belmont Stakes will be held at Saratoga on June 8 during a four-day race week (June 6-9) and that the regular 40-day Saratoga meet will be held July 11 through Sept. 2, with racing returning to Aqueduct for the fall.

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