Updated on 12/12/2012 7:23PM

Ruffian Handicap, Gazelle get new dates on 2013 New York Racing Association stakes schedule

Barbara D. Livingston
The New York Racing Association’s Reorganization Board was expected to approve a fall and spring stakes schedule on Wednesday.

The restoration of two graded stakes for fillies and mares and the addition of a second New York Showcase Day program at Belmont Park are the significant changes to the New York Racing Association’s stakes program in 2013.

The NYRA Reorganization Board approved the stakes program only for Aqueduct’s winter/spring and Belmont Park’s spring/summer sessions at its monthly meeting Wednesday.

However, NYRA released the entire 2013 stakes schedule since it will appear in NYRA’s calendar, which will be distributed on New Year’s Day. The board is expected to approve the schedule for Saratoga (a 40-day meet from July 19 through Sept. 2) and the fall meets at Belmont and Aqueduct at its March or May meeting.

The NYRA will bring back the Ruffian and the Shuvee – graded stakes for fillies and mares that were not run in 2012 – and thus restore what had been a reduced stakes program in the filly and mare division.

The Grade 2, $250,000 Ruffian will be run as a one-turn mile April 6 – Wood Memorial Day – at Aqueduct and serve as a prep for the Grade 1, $400,000 Ogden Phipps on May 27. The Ruffian, which had been run at Saratoga in 2010-11 after being run at Belmont the previous 34 years, lost its Grade 1 status following the 2011 running.

The Grade 3, $200,000 Shuvee Handicap, typically run as a one-turn mile on Preakness Day at Belmont Park, will be run July 20 at Saratoga as a two-turn, 1 1/8-mile prep for the Grade 1, $600,000 Personal Ensign at Saratoga on Aug. 25.

The Gazelle, restricted to 3-year-old fillies and recently demoted to a Grade 2, has been moved from Thanksgiving weekend to April 6 and could possibly be used a prep for the Kentucky Oaks, though the race will not offer qualifying points needed to get into the Oaks field should it overfill.

The other significant change to the Aqueduct winter/spring schedule was the previously reported move of the Grade 2 Jerome for 3-year-olds from late April to Jan. 5, replacing the Count Fleet, which will not be run in 2013.

The most significant change to the Belmont spring/summer stakes program is the addition of a second New York Showcase Day, featuring seven stakes for New York-breds. That June 1 card will be a combination of traditional statebred stakes typically run at the meet plus the inaugural runnings of the $150,000 Commentator for males and the $100,000 Dancing Renee for fillies and mares. The traditional New York Showcase Day card will be held Oct. 19.

The $1 million Belmont Stakes, the third leg of the Triple Crown, highlights the Belmont spring schedule and will be run June 8 along with four other graded stakes.

The Shuvee is the only addition to the stakes program at the 40-day Saratoga meet.

The A.P. Smithwick and the New York Turf Writers Cup – graded steeplechase events at Saratoga – were not on the calendar released Wednesday, and the status of those races was not immediately clear.

The Travers, the traditional centerpiece of every Saratoga meet, is scheduled for Aug 24.

The 2013 Belmont fall stakes schedule virtually mirrors that of 2012 with the exception of $50,000 purse increases for the Grade 1 Garden City and the listed Pebbles Stakes.

The biggest day of the meet will be Sept. 28, with five Grade 1 stakes topped by the $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup.

The Grade 1 Cigar Mile, the highlight of Aqueduct’s fall meet, got a purse increase of $50,000 to $400,000 and will be run Nov. 30. The Grade 3, $200,000 Comely, for 3-year-old fillies typically run in the spring, has been moved to Nov. 30. The Grade 2 Go for Wand, run at one mile on Nov. 29, got a $50,000 purse hike to $250,000.