03/03/2011 2:22PM

Peter Pan among four graded stakes back on Belmont's spring calendar


OZONE PARK, N.Y. – The return of four furloughed graded events highlight the changes to the 2011 Belmont Park spring/summer stakes program while the Saratoga calendar will virtually duplicate that of last year, according to schedules released Thursday by the New York Racing Association.

The Futurity and Matron, a pair of Grade 2 events for 2-year-old colts and fillies, respectively, and traditionally run at Belmont’s fall meet, were brought back after a one-year hiatus but moved to July 3. Both races were shortened from seven furlongs to six furlongs. Up until 2008, NYRA had previously run juvenile stakes such as the Tremont and Astoria in late June/early July.

Also returning to the Belmont spring/summer calendar are the Grade 2, $200,000 Peter Pan Stakes for 3-year-olds, and the Grade 3, $100,000 Poker Handicap, a one-mile turf race for males 3-and-up. The Peter Pan, run at 1 1/8 miles, has been restored as the local prep for the $1 million Belmont Stakes and will be run on May 14. Last year, the Dwyer was moved from the first week in July to the Peter Pan’s slot. The Dwyer will be moved back to July 2.

The Poker will be run June 10, forcing the Hill Prince, a one-mile turf race for 3-year-olds, to be moved back a week to June 18.

The Belmont Stakes, the third leg of racing’s Triple Crown, will be run June 11 along with three other Grade 1 stakes – the Manhattan, Just a Game, and Acorn – as well as the True North and Woody Stephens, a pair of Grade 2 sprints.

During its 55-day meet, which runs from April 29 to July 17, Belmont will host 37 stakes (29 graded) worth $7.8 million, compared with 33 stakes (25 graded) worth $7.4 million last spring/summer. As a result of a lack of Breeders’ Cup funding, the Brooklyn took a $50,000 purse cut to $150,000 while the Jaipur had its purse cut in half to $100,000. The Jaipur was also lengthened to seven furlongs from six.

The 2011 Saratoga schedule virtually mirrors the 2010 calendar with 52 stakes (35 graded) worth $10.925 million. The only difference is the With Anticipation received a $50,000 increase as it was bumped to Grade 2 status.

The Spa highlights include the $1 million Travers Stakes on Aug. 27, a card that also includes Grade 1 events such as the King’s Bishop and Ballerina as well as the Grade 2 Ballston Spa and the Grade 3 Victory Ride.

There will be Grade 1 events on the other Saturdays as well, including the Coaching Club American Oaks (July 23), the Diana (July 30), the Whitney and Test (Aug. 6), the Sword Dancer Invitational (Aug. 13), Alabama (Aug. 20), and the Forego and Woodward (Sept. 3).

Saratoga’s 40-day meet runs from July 22- Sept. 5.