The New York Racing Association released the Belmont Park spring and summer stakes schedule recently, featuring major alterations to the racing schedule, number of graded stakes and their associated purses.
A total of 54 stakes worth $15.575 million in purses will be offered during the 40-day meet that runs from May 4 through July 9. Last year, there were 59 stakes worth $16.95 million offered over 44 days.
The highlight, of course, is the third and final leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown: the 155th Belmont Stakes, the NY horse betting crown jewel that features a $1.5 million purse.
Changes to NYRA 2023 horse racing stakes
As originally reported by the Daily Racing Form, the New York Racing Association (NYRA) reduced the purses of twelve graded stakes, including four Grade Ones, by a combined $1.325 million.
That said, the NYRA also increased the purses of 13 Grade Three or Listed stakes by a combined $675,000, netting out to a $650,000 reduction in the purse allocation.
“We wanted to make that adjustment and that was allowing us to get back more money into the fund and then evaluate where we want to use that money,” said Frank Gabriel, NYRA’s senior vice president of racing operations. “While it’s a reduction, I think it’s still a substantial amount of money for a three year old going a distance.”
More specifics of NY horse racing schedule
The $750,000 Belmont Derby and $500,000 Belmont Oaks, long-distance Grade One turf races for 3-year-olds and 3-year-old fillies, had their purses cut by $250,000 and $200,000, respectively.
Elsewhere, the Grade One New York ($600,000), Grade Two Brooklyn ($250,000) and Grade Two Belmont Gold Cup ($250,000) each had their purses reduced by $150,000. The Grade One Man 0′ War ($600,000) and Grade Two Bed o’ Roses each incurred $100,000 purse cuts.
On the other side of the ledger, between $25,000 to $150,000 has been added to seven Listed and six Grade Three stakes. The Grade Three Manila, a mile-long turf race for 3-year-olds, got a $150,000 increase to $250,000. Gabriel said increased purses of allowance races around the country made it important to raise the purses of these stakes.
“The level of a purse you would offer in a Listed race or a Grade Three race should be at a level that can at least attract a horse to participate in your race and that hopefully will feed into the Grade Ones and Grade Twos.”
The five stakes eliminated from the Belmont spring/summer meet include the Flat Out, Seek Again, Grand Couturier, River Memories and Saginaw.
Belmont Stakes weekend not immune to change
The NYRA also made some adjustments to the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival (June 8-10). It moved the Acorn and Just a Game from the June 10 Belmont Stakes program to the previous day, combining it with the New York to have three Grade One races on the June 9 card.
The $500,000 Acorn extended from a mile to 1 1⁄16 miles, done with an eye toward attracting horses coming out of the Kentucky Oaks and Black-Eyed Susan.
“We’re hoping the Acorn can become an established race on that Friday program with the other Grade One filly races and, instead of putting everything on one day, trying to spread those days out to two or three days,” Gabriel said. “I think it will be a good program on Friday that we can get an attractive group of horses competing on that day.”
The NYRA has also moved the Poker Stakes, a Grade Three mile turf race for older males, to the Belmont Stakes Day program, which will consist of nine stakes. Six include Grade Ones topped by the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes, the third leg of the Triple Crown; the $1 million
Metropolitan Handicap; and the $750,000 Manhattan.
More in store for NY horse racing
The NYRA also moved the Tremont and Astoria Stakes for 2-year-olds and 2-year-old fillies, respectively, to the day after the Belmont Stakes. Gabriel said the NYRA will offer $2,000 starter bonuses for all 2-year-old races offered at the Belmont meet. Horses stabled off NYRA property will receive a $1,000 shipping bonus as well in 2-year-old races.
The added distance of the Acorn came in concert with the decision to move the Grade Two, $250,000 Mother Goose to the fall. The Mother Goose, typically run in late June, will this year occur on Oct. 28 at Aqueduct at 1 1⁄8 miles.
“We’re going to look at the Mother Goose where it’s at to feed off the Cotillion,” said Gabriel, referring to the Grade One race offered at Parx at the end of September. “We expect the best three year old fillies in the country are going to go to the Breeders’ Cup Distaff. If we can offer a solid Grade Two race for the three year old filly division to run against their own age group, we hope that can be an attractive race at the end of October.”
Gabriel said he also expects to make some changes to the stakes program at Saratoga, with even more on tap for the “Belmont at the Big A” and Aqueduct fall meets.