06/21/2017 12:06PM

Jockey Club Gold Cup purse trimmed, Cigar Mile boosted


The Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park had its purse cut by $250,000 while the Cigar Mile at Aqueduct had its purse increased by the same amount in a series of changes to the New York Racing Association’s stakes schedules for the Belmont and Aqueduct fall meets.

The Jockey Club Gold Cup had been worth $1 million for 15 of the last 21 runnings, including the last six. However, with the emergence of the now-Grade 1, $1 million Pennsylvania Derby – typically run two weeks before the Gold Cup – 3-year-olds have the option of staying in their same age group rather than taking on older horses in the Gold Cup. In fact, no 3-year-old has participated in the last two runnings of the Jockey Club Gold Cup.

Even with this purse reduction to $750,000, the Gold Cup, at 1 1/4 miles, remains the richest Grade 1 for older males in the fall before the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

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The Jockey Club Gold Cup headlined what had been billed as Super Saturday, a card that in 2016 consisted of seven stakes, four of which were Grade 1 races. This year, the Jockey Club Gold Cup will headline an Oct. 7 card consisting of four stakes, two of them Grade 1 races. The Grade 1 Flower Bowl and Grade 1 Frizette, part of the Gold Cup card in 2016, will be run on Oct. 8.

The other Super Saturday card, on Sept. 30, will consist of four graded stakes led by the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic. In 2016, there were five graded events on the corresponding card. The Grade 2 Kelso was moved off that card and will be run on Sept. 23. The Kelso, a one-mile dirt race, had its purse cut by $50,000 to $300,000.

The Grade 2 Sands Point on Sept. 16 had its purse cut from $500,000 to $400,000, while the Grade 3 Futurity and Grade 3 Matron, to be run Oct. 14 and 15, each had its purse cut by $50,000 to $150,000.

There will be 42 stakes worth $10,150,000 at the 36-day Belmont fall meet, which runs Sept. 8 through Oct. 29. In 2016, there were 42 stakes worth $10,650,000.

At Aqueduct, there will be 30 stakes worth $5,175,000 over 40 days, from Nov. 3 through Dec. 31, compared with 29 stakes worth $4.85 million in 2016.

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The Saturday after Thanksgiving, Nov. 25, will be headlined by the Grade 3, $200,000 Discovery Stakes for 3-year-olds. That card will include the unveiling of two new turf stakes – the $150,000 Forever Together for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles and the $125,000 Aqueduct Turf Sprint Championship at six furlongs. The Turf Sprint Championship will be run over the new turf course that Aqueduct is installing to replace the inner dirt course. A third new turf stakes, the $125,000 Autumn Days, for fillies and mares at six furlongs, will be held on Nov. 26.

In past years, the Cigar Mile had a base purse of $500,000, with a Grade 1 winner running for the winner’s share of $750,000 and a Breeders’ Cup winner running for the winner’s share of $1 million. This year, the race will be worth $750,000, and there will be no bonuses.

The $250,000 Remsen, $250,000 Demoiselle – Grade 2 events for juveniles and juvenile fillies, respectively – and the Grade 3, $200,000 Go for Wand for fillies and mares each had their purse cut by $50,000.