All eyes from the New York betting and thoroughbred racing worlds will be on historic Saratoga RaceCourse Thursday as its 40-day summer meet kicks off.
Saratoga gets going now that Belmont Park’s spring meet ended Sunday.
Thursday’s opening card features 10 races, most notably the $135,000 Wilton (Race 7) and the Grade 3, $175,000 Schuylerville (Race 9).
First post on live race days (with the exception of 12-race cards, Travers, Whitney and closing weekend days) will be 1:05 p.m.
The meet will feature 77 stakes races (offering at least one stakes race every live racing day) worth more than $22.6 million in total purses and will be highlighted by the Grade 1, $1 million Whitney on Aug. 6 and the Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers Stakes on Aug. 27.
Whitney Day (12:35 p.m. first post) has three Grade 1 races, highlighted by the Whitney. The winner of the Whitney gains an automatic berth to the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic in November at Keeneland in Lexington, Ky.
The day also will include the $500,000 Longines Test for two-year-old fillies; the $1 million Caesars Saratoga Derby Invitational, the second jewel of the Caesars Turf Triple series for 2-year-old males; the Grade 2, $250,000 Glens Falls (turf) for fillies and mares and the $135,000 Fasig-Tipton Lure.
Three weeks later, the 153rd running of the Travers highlights a card jam-packed with five other graded stakes worth a total of $4.1 million.
Other stakes races on the card include: the G1$750,000 Resorts World Casino Sword Dancer for older horses (1 1/2 miles on turf) for an automatic bid into the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf; the G1, $600,000 Personal Ensign for fillies and mares 4-and-up; the G1, $600,000 Forego for 4-and-up; the G1, $500,000 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial for 3-year-olds and the G2, $400,000 Ballston Spa (turf) for fillies and mares.
Saratoga’s meet will conclude on Labor Day, Sept. 5.
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Belmont Park Trainer, Jockey Titles
Trainer Chad Brown and jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. continued their dominance in Elmont after Belmont Park’s 44-day spring/summer meet ended on Sunday.
Brown extended his record by capturing his seventh consecutive training title by posting 47 victories, the record for most wins earned by a trainer at a Belmont spring/summer meet. Brown’s performance snaps David Jacobson’s 56-day, 2013 spring/summer meet mark of 44 wins.
Brown closed out the meet with earnings of more than $5.7 million, posting a 30.72 win percentage and finished in-the-money at a rate of 64.71%.
Ortiz, Jr. secured the leading-rider title with 48 wins for his 19th career riding title. His meet was highlighted by his winning ride in the Belmont Stakes aboard Mo Donegal in early June and coming from behind with three wins on the final day to win by one over Dylan Davis (47).
Ortiz, Jr. ended the meet with purse earnings of more than $5.14 million, a 27.59 win percentage and finishing on-the-board in 57.47% of his starts.