Updated on 02/10/2014 12:52AM

Belmont Stakes Day card will have 10 stakes, $8 million in purses

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The nine supporting stakes on the June 7 Belmont Stakes card will include the Metropolitan Handicap, now worth $1.25 million.

Racing fans won’t have to wait until November to experience a Breeders’ Cup-type program.

The New York Racing Association announced Friday that the June 7 Belmont Stakes Day card will offer purses totaling $8 million and 10 stakes races – six Grade 1’s – including the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap, which has been moved from its traditional Memorial Day spot on the calendar. Also, the purse of the Met Mile has been raised to $1.25 million from $750,000.

Other stakes that have been moved to the Belmont Stakes program are the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps, Grade 1 Acorn, Grade 2 Brooklyn Invitational, and Grade 3 Jaipur. The purses of all those races received significant increases, with the Phipps going to $1 million from $400,000, the Acorn to $750,000 from $300,000, the Brooklyn to $500,000 from $200,000, and the Jaipur going to $300,000 from $150,000. Additionally, NYRA is instituting the “Brooklyn Bonus” whereby any horse who has previously won a graded stakes at 1 3/16 miles or longer will receive a bonus of $175,000 if he wins the Brooklyn.

The 13 race-card – which will include three $100,000 allowance races – will be the second-richest card in North America behind Breeders’ Cup Saturday.

“We wanted to create a day that would grab people’s attention in classic, bigger-than-life New York-style by offering what shapes up as the finest day of racing in Belmont Stakes history,” Chris Kay, NYRA’s president and CEO, said in a conference call Friday afternoon. “We want to give people every reason to come out and be part of the excitement.”

Those races will join a card that already includes the Belmont Stakes, the third leg of the Triple Crown, which already had its purse raised to $1.5 million; the Manhattan, which had its purse double to $1 million; the Just a Game, which went from $500,000 to $750,000; the Woody Stephens, which went from $400,000 to $500,000; and the Easy Goer, which will remain at $150,000.

By raising the purse of the Phipps to $1 million, the hope is to get a showdown between Eclipse Award winner Beholder, based in Southern California, and Princess of Sylmar, last year’s top 3-year-old filly on the East Coast.

Despite the 10 stakes races, there is not one that fits reigning two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan, a prolific turf miler. Martin Panza, NYRA’s senior vice president of racing operations, said that Belmont will offer a mile turf race later in the spring/summer meet that could attract Wise Dan.

NYRA did not release the remainder of its Belmont spring/summer stakes schedule. NYRA also did not announce what the admission and ticket prices will be for the Belmont Stakes, saying that announcement would come in about a month.

NYRA is hoping the Belmont Stakes card is viewed as a Breeders’ Cup-type program in June. It is also the type of “big-day” card that Panza, who came here last November from Hollywood Park, hopes to do more of here in the future.

“Big days are what we all look forward to. They give a racetrack a big part of its identity,” Panza said. “For casual fans you hope it makes a difference; for core fans it gives them quality races that are more fun to handicap and bet on. The whole big-day concept is something I believe in and hope to do more of in the future of New York racing.”

The True North Handicap, a race typically run on Belmont Stakes Day, has been moved to the day before the Belmont, June 6, and had its purse slashed from $400,000 to $250,000. That day the $200,000 Belmont Gold Cup Invitational, for 4-year-olds and up, will be run at two miles.

On Sunday, June 8, NYRA will present the $100,000 Intercontinental Stakes for females 4 and up, to be run at seven furlongs on the turf.

Mikethemessenger465 More than 1 year ago
Okay, let's say this becomes an overwhelming success. Does NYRA get greedy and put all (or most) of Saratoga's Grade 1's on Travers Day?
Roger DuFault More than 1 year ago
If this "big idea" doesn't work for NYRA nothing will. One suggestion, please get the place spiffed up on time. Good luck with this NYRA, really rooting for you on this one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Yeah, but will fans be allowed to bring cameras in to the track? We swore never to come back after last year's ban on cameras "with detachable lenses / lenses over 6 inches" - we travel over 8 hours to get to the Belmont Stakes every year, and to get there and find out our cameras were banned was one of the poorest treatment of race fans that we've ever run into. I hope they change this policy for 2014.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the first I heard of that. I can't imagine why
russell More than 1 year ago
Great idea John- Will Never Happen The 5 week TC calender is the most insane part. The last two TC horses, Affirmed and Seattle Slew were done after these races. Both thru great 4 yold races and the trainers were great.
Walter More than 1 year ago
How do you figure Seattle Slew & Affirmed were done? They both won races after their triple crown triumphs. Years ago, horses actually ran. Nowadays, they are given time off, excuses, and any reason to run to the breeding shed. Would love to see a throwback to the 60s or 70s. Maybe if horses ran longer, it could help the game get healthier.
russell More than 1 year ago
Walter they were done that year, Seattle Slew was KO;d bad in the Swaps. Didnt race for over a year. Affiirmed tried twice Seattle Slew and he crushed him. It wasnt even close and I was there/
Walter More than 1 year ago
You were very fortunate to be there to see that race. Imagine both Seattle Slew & Affirmed ran after they won Triple Crowns! That was an era gone by. Now trainers send em to the shed after a couple of wins.
Walt Gekko More than 1 year ago
Affirmed did race several times after the Belmont. He actually was first in the Travers and should NOT have been taken down as many felt Cordero should have been severely suspended for his ride on Shake Shake Shake in the 1978 Travers that caused Affirmed to go into Alydar and then Affirmed let Seattle Slew cut a :24 first quarter in a Marlboro Cup where Slew went 1:45 4/5 for 1 1/8 Miles (last seven-eighths in 1:21 4/5, which is championship time for seven-eighths on its own) which left Affirmed in an impossible position and Slew showing he was superior in his JCGC loss to Exceller (Slew was much the best that day in an insanely run race), so Affirmed actually ran well after the TC.
russell More than 1 year ago
I was a huge Affirmed fan. I was at the Marlboro Cup and my dad, who never ever bet favorites said "Seattle Slew can't lose; Cordero can't hold him" It was so easy to see and i was 10 yrs old then. Cordero was choking the Slew in the paddock. This was after a Dr Patches loss. The black colt was fired up. Affirmed was a great horse. He beat Spect. Bid and yes I was there. Racing was never better in those years.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You need to rewrite this post as you are so incorrect that the message probably came out wrong
John Murray More than 1 year ago
In order to add relevance and some excitement for the Belmont Stakes, by putting the Belmont Stakes on grass, this move would entice more TC entries and add an incentive to breeders,owners and fans. The Canadian triple crown has done this for many years. This would help eliminate the last 2 furlong Belmont staggers, plodding along, tired, exhausted, knowing they have no real chance of winning or even finishing in the money. On grass, wonderful things can and do happen and horses, trainers can find new life, new careers, new excitement for handicappers. i know we have always done it on the dirt and look where we are now. American bred/owned Euro's would gladly ship over for the Belmont Stakes on turf and the TC Challenge. Just wondering out loud...
Walter More than 1 year ago
That is reaching.
Walt Gekko More than 1 year ago
I actually suggested the idea myself of moving the Belmont to the turf 20 years ago. While that is an option that should be looked, what really needs to be done is to put a greater emphasis on long-distance racing. That can be helped by Breeders' Cup, Ltd. lengthening the BC Classic and Distaff to 1 5/8 Miles EACH and the Marathon to 2 1/4 Miles. Doing that would force many other races to go to longer distances and would help the breed.
John Murray More than 1 year ago
great to hear Walt, I agree about increasing the distances, however what comes first? Today's breeding is void of proven distance and turf sires. 20 years ago in the mid '90's was when the Beyers started to descend in the 3 y' old crops. Keep up the call for a Green Belmont and a return to classic distances!
Pagani Zonda More than 1 year ago
Not bad John. I would agree with that. I have always loved the Canadian Triple crown. Love that the last leg is 12f on turf. We restrict it to CDN breds only, or else we woul certainly have Euro's there running. Plus ours are not Graded. a G1 12f classic is tempting for Euro's, especially those that will run in the St.Leger at Doncater going 14f, and need a run. The St.Leger being in September.
Raymond Hackinson More than 1 year ago
Reader Russell is right. Sometimes it seems like the only thing missing to make the Belmont look like a steeplechase are the hedges. American horses are not trained or bred for distance races. When I see a horse that failed repeatedly at a shorter distance stretch to races over a mile, I know the trainer has given up on him
russell More than 1 year ago
and you give that horse the big X on the program.
Pagani Zonda More than 1 year ago
Distance races are 14f and up. The fact you think 12f is a Distance race is hilarious. Americans refer to 12f horses as stayers......
Brandon Layer More than 1 year ago
Time for Churchill to step up Derby Day another notch. If any day is going to have the second richest card besides Breeders Cup Saturday it should be Derby day. With the moneu Churchill makes off the Derby it could easily be done.
Brandon Layer More than 1 year ago
*money
russell More than 1 year ago
I'm a huge traditionalist. Moving the Met Mile from Memorial Day weekend bothers me. Its a stand alone great race. Ask any breeder in the world what race would they rather win; the Met Mile or the Belmont Stakes? The Met Mile has legendary horses. Plenty of marginal horses have won the Belmont Stakes in the past 25 years. Does anyone remember D'Tara?
Walt Gekko More than 1 year ago
The problem is the Met Mile, Acorn and Phipps if they remained on Memorial Day were looking at marginal 4-5 horse fields at best because Pimlico is likely about to severely beef up the Preakness Day program, including increasing the Pimlico Special to possibly $1 Million and maybe the Black-Eyed Susan as well and possibly the Allaire DuPont Distaff to $500,000+. If that happens, many owners who had the choice of the Preakness Week or Memorial Day stakes would opt for the Preakness week stakes, especially if it means seats for Preakness Day. NYRA likely knows this and that's likely why the made the move, realizing the Met Mile if it stayed in its traditional spot would in a couple of years be in danger of being downgraded to Grade 2 because of that.
russell More than 1 year ago
No way Walt. How was Shack vs Calebs Posse? Does it get any better than that? The Met Mile is a historic race. Always will be. I saw Forego win, Conq Ciello, and Dixie Brass. All different types can win. And I was there when Criminal Type beat two legends, Sunday Silence and Ez Goer. The quick short horse usually wins.
Pagani Zonda More than 1 year ago
Not to many trainers from around the world that would run in either, or on dirt period. How about saying breeders from the USA, as Dirt is your main track.
Pagani Zonda More than 1 year ago
Also, I would love to have a horse win the Met Mile. I have always loved the race personally.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Why don't you cut the NYRA some slack. They are trying to make a change for the better /bettor. It could be an exciting day where the entire racing world would be watching and participating
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As splashy as the proposed card is likely to be, I personally wish they would have kept the Met Mile on Memorial Day as the signature race to unofficially start the warmer late spring-summer racing season. Moreover, having the Brooklyn on the same Belmont Stakes Day card could negatively impact the field size for one or both races, given that we are talking about older horses who might have flexible qualifications on dirt for both. Steve Davidowitz
Walt Gekko More than 1 year ago
Steve: I'm not sure you are aware, but with Maryland having new revenue from slots coming to Pimlico and Laurel, the Maryland Jockey Club is likely looking at severely beefing up the purses for Preakness week that in my view could include both the Black-Eyed Susan and Pimlico Special going to $1 Million and the Allaire DuPont Distaff going to at least $500,000. The New York Racing Association is likely well aware of what is possibly going to happen with Preakness week at Pimlico and in turn likely know that if that actually happens, the Met Mile, Acorn and Odgen Phipps had they remained on Memorial Day would likely have seen those races go with at best marginal 4-5 horse fields due to owners wanting to be at Pimlico for the Preakness day/week programs. This in my view left NYRA no choice but to make the moves they did out of concern they would lose horses to Pimlico. With the stakes now part of Belmont Stakes Day, there is a good chance owners would race horses on both Preakness and Belmont Stakes weeks. That to me was the real reason NYRA did this.
Mikethemessenger465 More than 1 year ago
You're comparing Grade 1's to 2's and 3's. You might lose some lesser horses to those races, and you still might even with the increase in the NYRA purses, since their odds of winning will be better. And even with the purse increases for the Maryland races I still don't see them being raised in grade because they are not only competing with Belmont Grade 1's but also CD Grade 1's (except for older males).
Walt Gekko More than 1 year ago
And if owners go for the purses at Pimlico if they are severely increased, those Grade II and Grade III events likely will become Grade I and Grade II events in a couple of years just like the Charles Town Classic already being a Grade II in spite of only being run since 2009.
Pagani Zonda More than 1 year ago
Oh and anyone complaining about the Met Mile changing dates....suck it up Butter cups. This is a phenomenal card.