SARATOGA SPRINGS - The 2020 summer meet at historic Saratoga Race Course will feature 71 stakes worth $14.45 million, encompassing 39 graded stakes and 18 Grade 1s - from Thursday, July 16 through Monday, Sept. 7.
"We're thrilled to be racing at Saratoga this summer, and we thank Governor Andrew Cuomo for his support and the support of horsemen who have worked with us to navigate the many challenges," NYRA President and CEO Dave O'Rourke said in a statement. "While this will be anything but a traditional Saratoga season, we hope to provide a semblance of normalcy for both the local community as well as racing fans across the country."
Under current New York state guidelines, Saratoga Race Course will open July 16 without spectators in attendance. The 40-day meet will feature at least one stakes race every live racing day, highlighted by the 151st renewal of the Grade 1, $1 million Runhappy Travers on August 8 and the Grade 1, $750,000 Whitney on August 1, as the anchors of two of the biggest racing days in North America.
After opening weekend, racing will be conducted five days a week, Wednesdays through Sundays.
Whitney Day, set for Saturday, Aug.1, will feature three Grade 1 events, led by the historic Whitney, a handicap at 1 1/8 miles with an automatic berth to the Breeders' Cup Classic on November 7 at Keeneland on the line.
The card is bolstered by the Grade 1, $500,000 Personal Ensign, a "Win and You're In" qualifier for the Breeders' Cup Distaff in November; and the Grade 1, $300,000 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial presented by Runhappy for 3-year-olds sprinting seven furlongs.
The stakes-laden card also includes the Grade 2, $250,000 Bowling Green for 4-year-olds and up on the turf and the $200,000 Caress, a 5 ½-furlong turf sprint for older fillies and mares.
The Runhappy Travers, traditionally contested at the end of August, will be held this year on Aug. 8 to properly account for the schedule adjustments and overall calendar for 3-year-olds in training due to the health and safety measures instituted to mitigate risk and combat the spread of COVID-19.
The "Mid-Summer Derby" will still be contested at 1 1/4 miles for the country's most talented 3-year-olds and is one of three Grade 1s on the day, joining the $300,000 Ballerina for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up going seven furlongs in a "Win and You're In" qualifier for the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint.
A pair of stakes for sophomore state-breds originally scheduled at Aqueduct Racetrack, the NYSSS Times Square and NYSSS Park Avenue, will now be contested at Saratoga on Aug. 27 and Sept. 3 respectively, both offering a purse of $100,000 for the 6 1/2-furlong main-track sprints.