Bel­mont adds trio of marathon stakes to slate

Daily Racing Form National Digital Edition - - News - By David Gren­ing Fol­low David Gren­ing on Twit­ter @DRFGren­ing

Three new marathon races that New York Rac­ing As­so­ci­a­tion of­fi­cials hope could fill a void on the na­tional cal­en­dar have been added to the Bel­mont Park spring-sum­mer stakes pro­gram for 2016.

The races are the $200,000 Bel­mont Corona­tion In­vi­ta­tional, for fil­lies and mares at 1 15/16 miles on turf June 9; the $150,000 Rags to Riches In­vi­ta­tional, for fil­lies and mares at 1 1/2 miles on dirt June 10; and the $100,000 Flat Out, for 4-yearolds and up at 1 3/8 miles on dirt May 15.

Also, the Grade 2 New York Stakes, for fil­lies and mares at 1 1/4 miles on turf, had its purse bumped to $500,000 from $300,000 and serves as the an­chor to the pro­gram on June 10, the day be­fore the Bel­mont Stakes.

“Stay­ing races in Amer­ica, there are not a lot of them,” said Martin Panza, NYRA’s se­nior vice pres­i­dent of rac­ing op­er­a­tions. “We have money, we can do some­thing. I think it’s good for the en­tire in­dus­try.”

The Bel­mont Corona­tion has been added to the June 9 pro­gram as part of the three­day Bel­mont Stakes Rac­ing Fes­ti­val, which NYRA is try­ing to build up. It is the sis­ter race to the Bel­mont Gold Cup In­vi­ta­tional at two miles on turf, which is one of six stakes on the June 10 pro­gram.

Of course, the $1.5 mil­lion Bel­mont Stakes – the third leg of the Triple Crown – on June 11 is the high­light of the $19.2 mil­lion spring-sum­mer stakes pro­gram. That day fea­tures 10 stakes – six Grade 1’s – worth a to­tal of $7.5 mil­lion. The Grade 1 Acorn for 3-year-old fil­lies, which is run Bel­mont Day, took a $50,000 purse cut to $700,000.

The other big day on the Bel­mont spring-sum­mer sched­ule is the July 9 Stars & Stripes Day, topped by the $1.25 mil­lion Bel­mont Derby for 3-year-olds and the $1 mil­lion Bel­mont Oaks for 3-year-old fil­lies. Both are Grade 1 races at 1 1/4 miles on turf. Other stakes that day are the Grade 2, $500,000 Sub­ur­ban, the Grade 3, $400,000 Bel­mont Sprint Cham­pi­onship, and the Grade 3, $150,000 Vic­tory Ride.

Panza ex­plained that be­cause the Bel­mont Stakes is so late this year, he was forced to push the Stars & Stripes card back a week.

In a bid to stim­u­late ear­lier ac­tion in the 2-year-old pro­gram, Bel­mont in May will of­fer two $100,000 maiden races for 2-year-old males and two for 2-year-old fe­males that lead to the As­to­ria and Tre­mont stakes, run June 9 and 10, re­spec­tively. The As­to­ria and Tre­mont have $200,000 purses, $50,000 less than in 2015.

The Bel­mont spring-sum­mer meet runs from April 29 through July 17.

The stakes pro­gram for the 2016 Saratoga meet mir­rors that of 2015, with 69 stakes worth $18.73 mil­lion. The only change is that the race for­merly known as the Sch­enec­tady has been re­named the Skid­more. The race is for 2-year-olds go­ing 5 1/2 fur­longs on turf.

The two big­gest days of the Saratoga meet are Aug. 27, when the $1.25 mil­lion Travers is one of seven stakes on the card, and Aug. 6, when the $1.25 mil­lion Whit­ney tops a pro­gram with five stakes.

The Saratoga meet runs from July 22 through Sept. 5.

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