Whitney Festival, Travers Day Highlight Saratoga Meeting

Saratoga opens on Friday for a 40-day meeting that runs through Labor Day. (photo credit Ivan Cholakov via Bigstock)

Saratoga opens on Friday for a 40-day meeting that runs through Labor Day. (photo credit Ivan Cholakov via Bigstock)

Saratoga opens on Friday for 40 days of outstanding horse racing action with many of the top horses, trainers and jockeys settling in this week in Saratoga Springs as opening day approaches.

The highlight of the meeting is the $1.25 million Travers Stakes (G1) which will bring together some of the horses that went down the Triple Crown trail, possibly including American Pharoah.

The Bob Baffert trainee is scheduled to run in the $1 million Haskell Invitational (G1) at Monmouth Park on Aug. 2 and it is possible the Triple Crown winner could race back four weeks later at the Spa.

The Travers Day card on Aug. 29 includes five other Grade 1 stakes, including the $1 million Sword Dancer Invitational at 1 1/2 miles turf. Also on the card are the $750,000 Personal Ensign for fillies and mares and the $700,000 Forego at seven furlongs.

The $500,000 Ballerina for fillies and mares and the $500,000 King’s Bishop, both at seven furlongs, and the $400,000 Ballston Spa (G2) for turf fillies and mares round out the day’s stakes.

The $1.25 million Whitney for older horses is slated for Saturday, August 8, which the New York Racing Association is calling Whitney Festival Day.

The day card will include the $500,000 Test (G1) for three-year-old fillies, the $200,000 Fasig-Tipton Waya (G3) for turf fillies and mares going 1 1/2 miles, the $100,000 Lure at 1 1/16 miles on turf and the $100,000 Fasig-Tipton De La Rose at a mile for fillies and mares on turf.

The 40-day meet will run from Friday, July 24, through Labor Day, Monday, Sept 7 with racing conducted six days a week, Wednesdays through Mondays. During the meeting, there will be 69 stakes worth a record $18.7 million in purses.

Opening weekend is highlighted by a pair of Grade 1 races, the $500,000 TVG Diana for turf fillies and mares on Saturday, and the $300,000 Coaching Club American Oaks for three-year-old fillies on Sunday.

Todd Pletcher led the trainer’s standings again last year with 28 winners from 131 starters, with purse earnings of $2,971,987. Chad Brown was second with 23 winners and the two are expected to battle for the training title again this summer.

Pletcher has won five straight training titles at Saratoga and 11 overall in his career.

Javier Castellano was the leading jockey last summer with 58 winning mounts, with Irad Ortiz second with 52 and John Velazquez checking in third with 38. Castellano won the 2013 meeting by booting home 66 winners.

 

Michael Dempsey’s Saratoga Special:

Get Michael’s full card reports for Saratoga includes his selections, analysis, fair odds line, and wagering recommendations. Get reports for the entire meeting between July 24 and Sept. 1. Michael’s Saratoga Report includes his selections, analysis, fair odds line, and wagering recommendations. Mike has been handicapping the New York Racing circuit on a daily basis for nearly three decades. Saratoga runs six days a week, Wednesday through Monday.

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