SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (NYRA) — The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) announced the stakes schedule for the 40-day summer meet at the historic Saratoga Race Course, which will include 77 stakes worth $22.6 million in total purses.
Highlighted by the 153rd renewal of the Grade 1, $1.25 million Runhappy Travers on August 27, and the Grade 1, $1 million Whitney on August 6, the 2022 summer meet will open on Thursday, July 14, and continue through Monday, September 5. With a focus on the New York-bred program and certain categories of stakes races, the 2022 summer meet will feature a purse increase of more than $1.1 million over 2021.
“Saratoga Live,” the acclaimed television show produced by NYRA in partnership with FOX Sports, will return for its 7th season to provide daily coverage of the summer meet to a nationwide audience on the networks of FOX Sports. In addition to expanded national coverage of “Saratoga Live” on FS1, FS2, and FOX, regional coverage will air on SNY during select hours throughout the summer.
Following the four-day opening weekend, racing will be conducted five days a week, Wednesdays through Sundays, apart from the final week, when the meet will conclude on Labor Day.
Opening Day, Thursday, July 14, kicks off the season with the Grade 3, $175,000 Schuylerville for 2-year-old fillies and the inaugural running of the restricted one-mile $135,000 Wilton for sophomore fillies to be contested out of the reconstructed Wilson Chute.
The Wilson Chute, last in use in 1992, was named to honor the contributions of the late Richard T. Wilson, a banker and President of the Saratoga Racing Association for most of the first quarter of the 20th century. The reconstructed Wilson Chute will carefully follow the route of the original chute along the Clubhouse Turn just to the west of the 1863 Club and marks the return of one-mile races on the Saratoga main track.
Opening Weekend continues Friday, July 15, with the Grade 3, $175,000 Forbidden Apple at one mile on turf for older horses, and the $150,000 Coronation Cup at 5 1/2-furlongs on turf for sophomore fillies.
Saratoga’s first Grade 1 of 2022 is the $500,000 Diana for turf fillies and mares on Saturday, July 16, topping a card supported by the Grade 3, $175,000 Sanford at six furlongs for juveniles. Opening Weekend concludes on Sunday, July 17, with the Grade 3, $175,000 Quick Call presented by the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation for 3-year-olds going 5 1/2 furlongs on the grass.
The following Saturday, July 23, will see the Grade 1, $500,000 Coaching Club American Oaks for sophomore fillies take center stage, headlining a card that also offers the Grade 3, $200,000 Caress, a 5 1/2-furlong turf sprint for older fillies and mares.
Whitney Day on Saturday, August 6, will feature three Grade 1 events, led by the Whitney at 1 1/8 miles for older horses offering an automatic berth to the Breeders’ Cup Classic on November 5 at Keeneland.
Completing the trio of Grade 1s on Whitney Day will be the seven-furlong $500,000 Longines Test for sophomore fillies and the $1 million Caesars Saratoga Derby Invitational, the second jewel of the Caesars Turf Triple series at 1 3/16-miles for sophomores. Whitney Day will also include the 12-furlong Grade 2, $250,000 Glens Falls for older fillies and mares on turf, and the restricted $135,000 Fasig-Tipton Lure at 1 1/16-miles on turf for older horses.
Whitney weekend kicks off August 5, with the Grade 2, $200,000 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame for sophomore turf milers; the Grade 3, $300,000 Troy, which boasts a purse increase of $100,000, for 4-year-olds and up going 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf; and the restricted $135,000 Alydar at nine furlongs for older horses.
Whitney weekend concludes on August 7 with three stakes highlighted by the Grade 3, $700,000 Saratoga Oaks Invitational, the second leg of the Turf Triple series for sophomore fillies. The August 7 card also includes the Grade 3, $200,000 Adirondack, a 6 1/2-furlong sprint for juvenile fillies, and the restricted $135,000 Fasig-Tipton De La Rose at one mile on turf for older fillies and mares.
New York-breds will take center stage on Friday, August 26, for New York Showcase Day, featuring six stakes for state-breds worth a combined $1.25 million. The card is headlined by the $250,000 Albany, a nine-furlong test for sophomores. Also featured are five $200,000 stakes including the Fleet Indian for sophomore fillies; the Funny Cide presented by Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital for juvenile sprinters; and the Seeking the Ante for juvenile filly sprinters. The lucrative New York Showcase Day card also sees two stakes garner a $50,000 purse boost in the $200,000 West Point Handicap presented by Trustco Bank for 3-year-olds and up, and the $200,000 Yaddo Handicap for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up.
The 153rd edition of the Runhappy Travers is the centerpiece of a blockbuster day of racing on Saturday, August 27. The 2022 Travers Day card will include six stakes, including five Grade 1 events and an automatic berth in the Breeders’ Cup to the winner of the Grade 1, $750,000 Resorts World Casino Sword Dancer [Turf].
In addition, the Travers Day card will also include the Grade 1, $600,000 Personal Ensign at nine-furlongs for older fillies and mares; the Grade 1, $600,000 Forego, a seven-furlong sprint for 4-year-olds and upward, and the Grade 1, $500,000 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial for 3-year-olds going seven furlongs. Rounding out the signature day at the Spa is the Grade 2, $400,000 Ballston Spa at 1 1/16-miles for turf fillies and mares.
Runhappy Travers Weekend concludes Sunday, August 28, with a pair of stakes led by the Grade 1, $500,000 Ballerina, a seven-furlong sprint for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up that offers a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint; and the restricted $135,000 Better Talk Now at one mile on turf for sophomores.
The traditional local prep for the Runhappy Travers, the Grade 2, $600,000 Jim Dandy, will be held on Saturday, July 30. It will be joined by the Grade 1, $350,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap, a six-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds and up. Closing out Jim Dandy weekend on July 31 is the Grade 2, $250,000 Bowling Green at 1 3/8 miles on the turf; and the Grade 2, $200,000 Amsterdam for 3-year-olds at 6 1/2 furlongs.
New York-breds will also be highlighted on Friday, August 12 with four handicaps each boasting a purse increase of $25,000 to $125,000, including the Evan Shipman at one-mile for 3-year-olds and up; the John Morrissey at six furlongs for 3-year-olds and up; the six-furlong Union Avenue for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up; and the Johnstone Mile, previously the nine-furlong Saratoga Dew, for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up.
The Johnstone Mile, to be run out of the Wilson Chute, is named in honor of the longtime horseman and NYRA employee Bruce Johnstone who passed at age 76 in February 2020 following a lengthy battle against cancer. Johnstone transitioned from a successful career as a trainer to management at NYRA, where he spent the last 13 years of his career as Manager of Racing Operations.
Saratoga will also pay tribute to the late Suzie O’Cain on Wednesday, July 20 with a 1 1/16-mile turf event for state-bred sophomore fillies. The $125,000 Suzie O’Cain was previously run as the Stillwater. O’Cain, who passed away in January following a battle with breast cancer, and her husband, Dr. C. Lynwood O’Cain, managed the late Carl Lizza’s Highcliff Farm in Delanson, N.Y. for more than 20 years. O’Cain also served on the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation’s Board of Directors and was co-chairwoman of the New York Thoroughbred Breeders’ (NYTB) Political Action Committee and chairwoman of the NYTB Media Committee.
A day later, the third running of the $125,000 Rick Violette at 1 1/16-miles on turf for state-bred sophomores will honor the late NYRA horseman and former president of the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association.
Among the other Grade 1 races at the Spa will be the $150,000 A.P. Smithwick Memorial on July 20, and the $150,000 Jonathan Sheppard on August 17 for steeplechasers; the $600,000 Alabama on Saturday, August 20; and the $500,000 Fourstardave Handicap, a Breeders’ Cup qualifier for the Mile, on Saturday, August 13, to be held on the same card as the Grade 2, $200,000 Saratoga Special.
Closing Weekend of the Saratoga meet will feature a pair of Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” events on Saturday, September 3, led by the Grade 1, $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup [Classic] at 10 furlongs for 3-year-olds and up. Should a Grade/Group 1 winner start in the 2022 Jockey Club Gold Cup, the purse will be increased to $1.25 million. In addition, the first four placings of the Grade 2, $400,000 Suburban Handicap on July 9 at Belmont Park will have their nomination, entry, and starting fees waived should they start in the Jockey Club Gold Cup.
The September 3 card also includes the Grade 2, $600,000 Flower Bowl, an 11-furlong turf test for older fillies and mares offering a berth in the Filly and Mare Turf; along with the Grade 3, $200,000 Saranac. On Sunday, September 4, 2-year-old fillies will sprint seven furlongs in the Grade 1, $300,000 Spinaway. Closing Day on Monday, September 5, will feature the Grade 3, $200,000 Bernard Baruch Handicap along with the prestigious Grade 1, $300,000 Hopeful for 2-year-olds going seven furlongs to conclude the 154th Saratoga meeting.
To view the complete stakes schedule for the 2022 summer meet, you can visit the NYRA website.