Edited NYRA Release — The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) today announced the stakes schedule for the 48-day Belmont Park spring/summer meet, which will feature 59 total stakes races worth $16.95 million in total purses. The spring/summer meet will open on Thursday, April 22 and continue through Sunday, July 11.
On February 10, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that live sports and entertainment venues will be permitted to re-open to a limited number of spectators beginning on February 23. In order for qualifying venues to re-open, those sites must gain New York State Department of Health approval and limit the number of spectators to 10 percent of seated capacity. All attendees must present a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of the event and adhere to health and safety requirements, including mandatory facial coverings and social distancing.
NYRA is reviewing the newly announced guidelines to determine how they apply to Aqueduct Racetrack, where the first floor is currently the site of a New York State COVID-19 vaccination center, and to Belmont Park and Saratoga Race Course.
The Belmont spring/summer meet will offer 11 Grade 1 contests and seven races with purses of $700,000 or higher, with four of those contests coming during the three-day Belmont Stakes Racing Festival from Thursday, June 3 through Saturday, June 5. The festival will encompass 17 total stakes, including eight Grade 1s on Belmont Stakes Day, capped by the $1.5 million “Test of the Champion” for 3-year-olds in the 1 ½-mile final leg of the Triple Crown.
Tickets for the 2021 Belmont Stakes Racing Festival are not yet on sale to the public. Additional information and the timing of the general on-sale will be released in the coming weeks.
In addition to the 153rd running of the Belmont Stakes on June 5, that day’s card will include three Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” qualifiers: the one-mile Grade 1, $1 million Metropolitan for 4-year-olds and up [Dirt Mile]; the Grade 1, $500,000 Ogden Phipps for older fillies and mares going 1 1/16 miles on the main track [Distaff]; and the Grade 1, $400,000 Jaipur for 3-year-olds and up going six furlongs on turf [Turf Sprint].
The blockbuster Belmont Stakes Day card will also feature the Grade 1, $750,000 Manhattan for 4-year-olds and up going 1 ¼ miles on turf; the Grade 1, $500,000 Acorn for 3-year-old fillies going one mile; the Grade 1, $500,000 Longines Just a Game for fillies and mares 4-years-old and up at one mile on the turf; the Grade 1, $400,000 Woody Stephens in a seven-furlong sprint over Big Sandy for 3-year-olds; and the Grade 2, $400,000 Brooklyn, a 1 ½-mile test for 4-year-olds and up.
The Belmont Stakes Racing Festival opens with three stakes races on Thursday, June 3, including a pair of Grade 3 turf events worth $200,000 in the Intercontinental for older fillies and mares and the Wonder Again for 3-year-old fillies. Rounding out the June 3 card is the $150,000 Astoria, a 5 1/2-furlong main-track sprint for juvenile fillies.
On June 4, the Grade 2, $750,000 New York, a 10-furlong turf test for older fillies and mares will headline a day featuring four graded stakes. This year’s renewal of the New York will offer a bonus to any previous winner of the Belmont Oaks, Saratoga Oaks or Jockey Club Oaks who wins the 2021 edition of the New York, with the winning owner to receive $315,000 while the winning trainer would earn an additional $35,000.
Also featured on the June 4 card are the Grade 2, $400,000 Belmont Gold Cup, the Grade 2, $300,000 True North; the Grade 3, $300,000 Bed o’ Roses; and the $150,000 Tremont.
The Stars and Stripes Racing Festival returns on Saturday, July 10 and features a trio of graded stakes headlined by the opening legs of NYRA’s Turf Triple Series. Launched in 2019, the Turf Triple returns with a pair of races earning Grade 1 status, featuring the $1 million Belmont Derby Invitational for sophomores going 1 ¼ miles and the $700,000 Belmont Oaks Invitational for 3-year-old fillies over the same distance.
Implemented by NYRA as the turf equivalent of the Triple Crown series, with all the legs contested at Belmont Park and Saratoga Race Course, the Belmont Derby Invitational will again launch the male division of the Turf Triple series that encompasses the Saratoga Derby this summer and the Jockey Club Derby during the Belmont fall meet.
The Belmont Oaks Invitational commences the female division of the Turf Triple Series, which will be followed by the Saratoga Oaks this summer and conclude with the Jockey Club Oaks during the fall.
Also featuring on the Stars and Stripes card is the Grade 3, $150,000 Victory Ride, a 6 1/2-furlong sprint for sophomore fillies.
Man o’ War Day on May 8 boasts five graded stakes led by the Grade 1, $700,000 Man o’ War at 1 3/8-miles on the turf for 4-year-olds and upward and bolstered by the Grade 3, $200,000 Peter Pan, the local prep for the Belmont Stakes; the Grade 3, $150,000 Beaugay, the Grade 3, $150,000 Vagrancy, and the Grade 3, $150,000 Runhappy.
Independence Day weekend from Saturday July 3 through Monday, July 5 offers six stakes races including a pair of Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In qualifiers led by the Grade 2, $400,000 Suburban [Classic] at 10 furlongs for 4-year-olds and up on July 3 and the Grade 2, $250,000 John A. Nerud [Sprint], which will see 4-year-olds and up contest at seven furlongs on July 4.
The holiday weekend kicks off July 3 with the $100,000 Perfect Sting and continues on July 4 with $100,000 Manila, while the Grade 3, $250,000 Dwyer anchors a Monday, July 5 card that also offers the $150,000 Grand Couturier.
The spotlight will shine on New York-breds on Monday, May 31, as part of New York Breeders’ Showcase Day. The lucrative Memorial Day card features six stakes for horses bred in the Empire State led by the $200,000 Commentator at a mile for 3-year-olds and up and the $200,000 Critical Eye at the same distance for fillies and mares, 3-years-old and upward. A quartet of $125,000 stakes will round out the day, including the Kingston, Mount Vernon, Mike Lee and Bouwerie.
Friday, April 23 will kick off the meet’s stakes action with the $100,000 Affirmed Success, a six-furlong sprint for New York-breds 4-years-old and up. The graded stakes action begins on Saturday, May 1 with the Grade 2, $200,000 Sheepshead Bay, the Grade 3, $200,000 Westchester and the Grade 2, $200,000 Fort Marcy.
Closing Day on Sunday, July 11 will drop the curtain down on the meet with the $150,000 River Memories before the racing action moves to Saratoga for its 40-day meet beginning Thursday, July 15.