08/08/2014 2:59PM

Jockey Club Gold Cup tops fall meet stakes slate


After significant alterations were made to the Belmont spring/summer and Saratoga stakes schedules, the program for the upcoming Belmont Park fall meet has mostly minor changes.

Topped by the $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup on Sept. 27, Belmont has scheduled 42 stakes – 20 graded – worth $11 million in purses for its 38-day meet that begins Friday, Sept. 5.

Originally, Belmont was to open Sept. 6, but New York Racing Association officials have decided to cancel a week of racing at Aqueduct in December and are adding days before then. NYRA will not race from Dec. 16-25, basically canceling five days of racing (Dec. 17-21). In addition to the day at Belmont, four days will be added to the Aqueduct schedule – Oct. 29-30 and Mondays, Nov. 10 and Dec. 15 – to accommodate the holiday break.

Last year, Belmont’s fall meet offered 31 stakes – 21 graded – worth $9.5 million.

The Jockey Club Gold Cup, for 3-year-old and up at 1 1/4 miles, is one of seven Grade 1 stakes offered during the meet, which runs through Oct. 26. Four of the other six Grade 1s – the $600,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic, the $600,000 Flower Bowl, the $400,000 Beldame, and the $400,000 Vosburgh – also will be run Sept. 27 as horses prepare for the Breeders’ Cup, to be held Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 at Santa Anita. Also on the Sept. 27 card is the Grade 2 Kelso.

The remaining two Grade 1 races – the $500,000 Champagne and the $500,000 Frizette, for 2-year-old males and females, respectively – will be run Oct.4. Those races are run at one mile. Juvenile sprinters will have their chance in the Futurity and Matron – both Grade 2 races at six furlongs – on Oct. 5.

NYRA had moved two other Grade 1 turf races typically offered in the fall to the summer and replaced them with events typically run in the summer. The Grade 2, $500,000 Sands Point for 3-year-old fillies will be run Sept. 13, replacing the Grade 1 Garden City, which was renamed the Belmont Oaks and run in July.

The Grade 3, $500,000 Hill Prince for 3-year-old males, to be run Oct. 4, replaces the Grade 1 Jamaica, which was renamed the Belmont Derby and run in July.

Announced earlier in the year is that the eight stakes on New York Showcase Day will now total $1.3 million in purses, topped by the $300,000 Empire Classic for 3-year-olds and up. That card, with all races devoted to New York-breds, will be run Oct. 18.