Stakes high for Belmont Park fall meet


The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) announced the stakes schedule for the 28-day fall meet at Belmont Park will include 20 graded stakes among 47 total stakes worth $11.15 million in purses.

The fall meet, which opened Sept. 16 with a nine-race card including a pair of Steeplechase events, runs through Oct. 31. There will be five “Win and You’re In” qualifiers to the Breeders’ Cup in November at Del Mar during the meet. 

This weekend (Sept. 25-26) will encompass the meet’s first graded stakes races, with Saturday offering the Grade 2, $300,000 Kelso Handicap for 3-year-olds and up going one mile on the main track and the Grade 3, $200,000 Athenia for fillies and mares 3-years-old competing at 1 1/8 miles on the turf. Sunday will see fillies and mares 3-and-up sprinting 6 1/2 furlongs in the Grade 2, $250,000 Gallant Bloom, with the undercard rounded out by the $150,000 Bertram F. Bongard for New York-bred juveniles going seven furlongs.

Seven graded stakes will comprise the weekend of Oct. 2-3, with a pair of Grade 1s highlighting the Saturday card with the $500,000 Woodward for 3-year-olds and up going a one-turn 1 1/8 miles on Big Sandy and the $500,000 Champagne for 2-year-olds running one mile in a prestigious race affording a spot in the Grade 1, $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile to the winner.

The following weekend will again provide a chance to see top-caliber racing, with Saturday, Oct. 9 showcasing the Grade 1, $500,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic for 3-year-olds and up in a marathon 1 1/2-mile turf competition, with the Grade 2, $250,000 Vosburgh, a six-furlong “Win and You’re In” event for the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint, bolstering the undercard along with the Grade 3, $150,000 Matron for juvenile fillies.

Oct. 10 will offer the fall meet’s final Breeders’ Cup qualifier with the Grade 3, $150,000 Futurity for 2-year-olds going six furlongs on the turf providing a spot in the Grade 1, $2 million Juvenile Turf Sprint. Also on tap that day will be the Grade 2, $250,000 Beldame at nine furlongs for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up; and the Grade 3, $150,000 Knickerbocker for 3-year-olds and up going 1 1/8 miles on the turf. 

Closing weekend on Oct. 30-31 will see a packed Saturday that will offer eight stakes for New York-breds on Empire Showcase Day, led by the $300,000 Empire Classic for 3-year-olds and up going 1 1/8 miles.