New slate, new stakes

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The revamped Saratoga Race Course meeting now set to start in early July will feature several new or relocated stakes for the 2019 season.

The New York Racing Association released the slate Friday and seven stakes will debut at the 40-day Saratoga meet that runs from July 11 to September 2. The biggest additions are the $1 million Saratoga Derby and $750,000 Saratoga Oaks, set to be run during the weekend of the Whitney and part of NYRA’s new Turf Triple Series. The meet features 76 stakes worth $20.85 million in purses. 

The Saratoga Derby, set for Sunday, Aug. 4, is the middle part of the Turf Trinity that starts and ends at Belmont Park with the $1 million Belmont Derby Invitational July 6 and $1 million Jockey Club Derby Sept. 7. The Saratoga Oaks, slated for Friday, Aug. 2, is the middle of the Turf Tiara that also begins and ends at Belmont with the $750,000 Belmont Oaks Invitational July 6 and $750,000 Jockey Club Oaks Sept. 7.

The lone new graded stakes to the Saratoga schedule is the Grade 3 Forbidden Apple for older horses at 1 mile on the grass, set for the first Friday of the meet July 12. The first five editions of the Forbidden Apple were run in mid-July at Belmont.

The additions to the Saratoga slate are $100,000 events – the Rick Violette July 17, Stillwater July 18, Mahony Aug. 7 and Galway Aug. 11.

The Rick Violette, for 2-year-old New York-breds going 6 furlongs formerly run as the Rockville Centre at Belmont, honors the late respected trainer and head of the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association who passed away in late December. The Mahony, for 3-year-olds going 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf, honors the longtime pari-mutuel executive Pat Mahony, who retired from NYRA in early 2016 after more than 50 years in the racing industry.

The other two stakes – the Stillwater for 2-year-old New York-bred fillies at 6 furlongs and Galway for 3-year-old fillies at 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf – are named for nearby towns in Saratoga County.

The remainder of the stakes schedule is fairly close to last year, with a few exceptions in the wake of NYRA’s decision to extend the meet without adding racing dates. The significant change to the Saratoga season will be dark days Mondays and Tuesdays, with mostly five-day race weeks for the duration.

Opening Day will again be anchored by the Grade 3 Schuylerville for 2-year-old fillies, along with the Grade 3 Quick Call Stakes for 3-year-olds at 5 1/2 furlongs on the grass. The Quick Call was run Wednesday, Aug. 8 in 2018. The Grade 3 Lake George, a 3-year-old filly stakes on the grass, moved from Opening Day to the second Friday of the meet, July 19.

The Grade 1 Diana and Grade 3 Sanford highlight the first Saturday of the meet with the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks, run in recent years the first Sunday of the meet, moves to the second Saturday of the meet, July 20.

The anchor features for the remaining Saturdays are the Grade 2 Jim Dandy and Grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt (July 27), Whitney and Test (Aug. 3), Grade 1 Fourstardave and Grade 2 Saratoga Special, Grade 1 Alabama and Grade 2 Lake Placid, Grade 1 Travers and its stellar supporting card that includes five other Grade 1s (Aug. 24) and Grade 1 Woodward (Aug. 31).

Read more and see the full slate here