NYRA has announced the spring/summer meet at Belmont Park will begin without fans June 3, bringing live racing back to the state for the first time since March 15. According to a May 19 press release, Belmont Park will be open for five days of racing during that initial week (Wednesday through Sunday) with a 1:15 p.m. first race post time before shifting to a four-day, Thursday-through-Sunday schedule for the remainder of the meet, which ends July 12. The schedule, which features at least one stakes every day of the meet, includes nine grade 1 stakes that will be spaced out among the meet’s six weekends. The $1 million Belmont Stakes (G1) will be run on June 20 date. NYRA revealed the remainder of its 40-stakes worth $7 million schedule for a meet shortened to 25 days due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This year’s Belmont Stakes card, the 152nd edition of the Triple Crown stakes, will be host to three other Grade 1 stakes. That stakes are the $300,000 Acorn Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at a mile, the six-furlong turf sprint $250,000 Jaipur Stakes, and the $250,000 Woody Stephens Presented by Claiborne Farm for 3-year-olds at seven furlongs. The card will also include two $150,000 turf stakes for 3-year-olds, the Pennine Ridge Stakes (G2T) for colts and the Wonder Again Stakes (G3T) for fillies.
Noticeably absent from the schedule are the opening legs of NYRA’s Turf Triple Crown series for 3-year-old males, the $1 million Belmont Derby Invitational Stakes (G1T) and the $750,000 Belmont Oaks Invitational Stakes (G1T), which were originally scheduled for July 11. A NYRA spokesperson said the Turf Triples will be run in 2020, with dates to be addressed at a later date.
The schedule also includes six stakes restricted to New York State-breds, each on a different day, after 11 state-bred or stallion series races were originally planned.
One key addition is the June 6 date for the $250,000 Runhappy Carter Handicap (G1), a seven-furlong sprint, which was on the canceled April 4 card at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Belmont’s July 4 card will include five graded stakes: the $500,000 Runhappy Metropolitan Handicap (G1) at a mile, the $400,000 Manhattan Stakes (G1T) at 1 1/4 miles on turf, the $200,000 Suburban Stakes (G2), the $150,000 Poker Stakes (G3T) and the $100,000 Victory Ride Stakes (G3).
Another Grade 1 stakes will be the June 13 $300,000 Ogden Phipps Stakes at 1 1/16 miles for fillies and mares and the June 27 $300,000 Longines Just A Game for fillies and mares at one mile on turf.
The opening day June 3 card will feature the $100,000 Beaugay Stakes (G3T) at 1 1/16 miles on turf for fillies and mares.
In addition to the 22 graded stakes,10 $80,000 overnight stakes races along with eight stakes restricted to New York-bred horses worth a combined $800,000 will be offered during the meet
NYRA was forced to cut purses for the meet due to the closing of the state’s casinos and the absence of VLT funds as well as a lack of on-track wagering and attendance.
“Without the casino operating and without on-track attendance, we’ve had to make significant purse cuts. The purse cuts to the stakes schedule are much more dramatic than the overnight schedule and we’ve tried to help the everyday horsemen as much as possible through these trying times by writing a rich and varied condition book, offering a daily opportunity for black type, that will support horsemen at all levels of the game,” said Martin Panza, NYRA’s senior vice president of racing operations.
Belmont Park dropped the following stakes from their 2020 spring/summer schedule : $300,000 Peter Pan Stakes (G3), $700,000 Man o’War Stakes (G1T), $500,000 Belmont Gold Cup (G2T), $500,000 Brooklyn Stakes (G2), $300,000 John A. Nerud Stakes (G2T) and Dwyer Stakes (G3).
There will also be no stakes for 2-year-olds with the loss of the Lasix-free $150,000 Tremont Stakes for colts and $150,000 Astoria Stakes for fillies. Both stakes were originally linked to maiden races at the start of the meet worth $100,000. Maiden races for 2-year-olds at the meet will now carry a purse of $64,000.