04/23/2014 11:05AM

Whitney purse doubled to $1.5 million

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The Whitney Handicap Invitational had its purse doubled to $1.5 million and is the centerpiece of an enhanced early meet program that rivals Travers Day on the Saratoga stakes calendar released Wednesday by the New York Racing Association.

The Whitney, for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles and worth $750,000 in past years, will be joined on the Aug. 2 card by the $500,000 Test – moved from Travers Day – and the $350,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt – moved from the day after the Whitney. Those three Grade 1 races will be joined on the card by the De La Rose and Lure, a pair of overnight turf stakes.

Meanwhile, the Travers, historically the richest race of the Saratoga meet, had its purse boosted 25 percent to $1.25 million and will headline a four-stakes program on Aug. 23 that includes the $500,000 King’s Bishop and $500,000 Ballerina – both Grade 1 races – as well as the Grade 2 Ballston Spa for fillies and mares on turf.

All totaled, Saratoga will offer 66 flat stakes – 33 of which are graded – plus two steeplechase stakes worth a total of $17.45 million during the 40-day meet, which runs from July 18 through Sept. 1.

While the Whitney had its purse increased, the Grade 1 Woodward, run under the same conditions as the Whitney on Aug. 30, had its purse slashed to $600,000 from $750,000. The Grade 2 Prioress, previously run as a prep for the Test, will now be run on the Woodward card along with the Grade 2 Bernard Baruch and Grade 1 Forego.

NYRA moved two traditional Grade 1 stakes run on Saturdays to Sundays. The Coaching Club American Oaks, for 3-year-old fillies, will be run on July 20. Its purse was increased to $300,000.

:: Full Saratoga stakes schedule

The Grade 1 Sword Dancer, which usually shares billing with the Grade 1 Alabama, will be run on Aug. 17, the day after the $600,000 Alabama. The purse of the Sword Dancer was cut from $600,000 to $500,000.

The Grade 1 Diana, typically run the second weekend of the meet, has been moved to opening weekend, Saturday, July 19, and had its purse cut from $600,000 to $500,000.The Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks was moved back a day to Sunday, July 20. Its purse was increased 50 percent to $300,000. The Grade 1 Personal Ensign, for older fillies and mares, was moved from the day after the Travers to the day before, Aug. 22, and was cut to $500,000 from $600,000.

Previously announced was the creation of Saratoga Showcase Day, on Aug. 24, featuring six stakes restricted to New York-breds including the $250,000 Albany Stakes.

Among stakes that received purse increases were the Grade 3 Saranac ($150,000 to $300,000), the Lake Placid ($200,000 to $300,000), and the Spinaway and Hopeful ($300,000 to $350,000).

Dickie RCowles More than 1 year ago
Big deal..Abunch of races getting moved from the day before to the day after and raising and cutting purses,yeah I said cutting too.No respect for older fillies and mares and the connections I guess.Should;nt this be drf pay per view anyway?Crap shoot I guess of what stories people are deemed lucky enough to view.
B More than 1 year ago
Good news about the Whitney, but I hope this doesn't hurt the always important and also historic Woodward.
exoticindy More than 1 year ago
And we are forced to pay $20 for parking, $10 for a beer and $16 for a mixed drink ,At Del Mar. How about some half decent racing,for those prices?
zkid9914 More than 1 year ago
Are you serious?
Joe Rockhold More than 1 year ago
Best mile and 1/8 race in the country and has been for some time. Great move!
Walt Gekko More than 1 year ago
What NYRA needs to do is a massive overhaul of the three year old filly stakes schedule: While it's nice to see the new $1 Million Belmont Park Oaks on turf, the Coaching Club American Oaks, a race that used to be the most important race in the sport for three year old fillies has languished in recent years as a prep for the Alabama when in fact it and NOT the Alabama should be the most important race on the calendar for three year old fillies in New York. With that in mind, how I would do it: The Acorn and Mother Goose would both become primary New York preps for the Kentucky Oaks and be moved to Aqueduct. The Acorn would be the first Grade 1 race of the year in New York (cut from this year's $750,000 to $500,000), possibly headlining what is currently Gotham Day in early March or being run a week later as a standalone feature (and possibly lengthened to 1 1/16 Miles) while the Mother Goose moves to the Wood Memorial Day program in April, returned to its old 1 1/8 Mile distance and increased to $750,000. The Coaching Club American Oaks returns to Belmont Park and is run most likely the Saturday after The Belmont Stakes under the same conditions as The Belmont: Returned to 1 1/2 Miles as a $1.5 million race and returning to being the filly version of "The Test of The Champion." It also could be linked with the Kentucky Oaks and Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico into becoming for the first time an official Triple Tiara for three year old fillies, especially if Pimlico as part of such agreed to double the BES purse to $1 Million with if so the CCA Oaks run the day before or day after The Belmont Stakes (Belmont will be open the day after The Belmont Stakes for the first time since 2006 this year). A bonus could then be established where if the winner of the CCA Oaks were to then take EITHER the Belmont Park Oaks or Belmont Park Derby, the winning owner would get $1 million for winning the CCA Oaks and Belmont Park Oaks or $2 Million for winning the CCA Oaks and Belmont Park Derby (with as part of this, the new Belmont Park Derby lengthened to 1 1/2 Miles as well). Other stakes would be shuffled as well: The Gazelle (at 1 1/8 Miles), currently run on the Wood Memorial card at Aqueduct would return to being the opening day feature of the fall meet at Belmont Park as it was for many years in the 1980's and '90s before being bounced around. The Prioress (at six furlongs) would replace the Acorn on Belmont Stakes day. The Test (at seven furlongs) would go back to being the opening Saturday feature and being the main prep for the Alabama stakes as it used to be OR would remain where it is with there being NO three year old filly stakes on opening weekend at Saratoga. If there is no Saratoga prep for the Alabama, the Delaware Oaks at Delaware Park, which is contested around that time can become the primary prep race for the Alabama OR horsemen who want to have a three year old filly race in a prep for the Alabama can have their fillies face older females in the Shuvee on opening weekend OR the boys in the Jim Dandy a week later. This would be part of a massive overhaul of the three year old filly stakes that is needed in New York.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Walt's back.
Pagani Zonda More than 1 year ago
Not bad.
Steven Simonovic More than 1 year ago
Good. Will Take Charge, Game On Dude, Wise Dan, Palace Malice, and Mucho Macho Man would make this race legendary.
Pagani Zonda More than 1 year ago
You will never get Baffert to ship the Dude to Saratoga. He runs to CT for his quick Mill and then runs back to California. WTC, MMM, PM, Lea and some other Handicap horses will run, but you can forget the dude.