04/13/2013 2:06PM

NYRA reinstates two steeplechase stakes for Saratoga


OZONE PARK, N.Y. – When the New York Racing Association Reorganization Board approved this summer’s Saratoga stakes schedule at its regular meeting on Thursday, it reinstated two Grade 1 steeplechase races that were originally left off the calendar.

The $100,000 A.P. Smithwick Memorial and the $150,000 New York Turf Writers Cup Steeplechase will be part of the usual nine-race steeplechase program to be run during the Saratoga meet, which runs from July 19 thru Sept. 2. As was the case last summer, steeplechase races will be run each Thursday, with two run every other Thursday.

The Smithwick will be run on Aug. 1 while the Turf Writers Cup will be run on Aug. 22.

When the two steeplechase stakes were originally left off the schedule, there was some thought that NYRA might be attempting to cancel steeplechase racing at the meet, in part because those races do not handle as much money as flat races.

But in subsequent meetings between the National Steeplechase Association and NYRA, an agreement to keep steeplechase races was met.

“We’re certainly delighted to come back with the program we had last year,” said Bill Gallo, the director of racing for the NSA. “We’re obviously appreciative and should show up with a good group of horses.”