Dec 14, 2007
AMERICAN TURF CLUB LEAD
By: JOE GIRARDI
After adding three new races to the Breeders’ Cup lineup for 2007 at Monmouth Park the Breeders’ Cup Limited announced that there will be three more new races for the 2008 Breeders Cup at the Oak Tree meeting at Santa Anita.
The 2008 event will be held on October 24th and 25th, Friday and Saturday with a total of 14 races. The total purses of these 14 races will be an all time high of $25.5 million dollars. This will also be the first Breeders’ Cup run over a synthetic surface, the cushion track at Santa Anita. This will be the second year that the Breeders’ Cup is run over a two day period. The New Breeders’ Cup World Championship races that will be run on Friday are, $1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint; 3-year-olds and up, at 6 ½ furlongs. There will also be a $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, 2-year-old fillies at one mile. The final new race will be the $500,000 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Marathon for 3-year-olds and up at 1 and ½ miles. The Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint will be contested on Santa Anita’s signature El Camino Real “down the hill” turf course, with a maximum of 14 starters. The Juvenile Fillies Turf will be limited to 12 starters. The institution of the $1 million Turf Sprint, the Dirt Marathon and the Juvenile Fillies Turf boosts total purses for the 14 Breeders’ Cup races to $25.5 million. As the Breeders’ Cup expands and adds a variety of races this will help build excitement throughout the year.
The New York Racing Association alters the stakes schedule for 2008. The schedule features 111 graded stakes races and more than $34 million dollars in purses. The major changes for 2008 include moving the Grade 1 Man o' War Stakes from the fall to the summer, changing the distance of the Brooklyn Handicap to 1 1/2 miles, and moving the Sword Dancer Invitational back a week, leaving the Yaddo Handicap as a stand-alone Saturday feature the third week of the Saratoga meet. According to an article in the DRF there were a few reasons for the change. In moving the Man o' War to July 12, NYRA eliminated the Grade 2 Bowling Green Handicap. NYRA officials believe they now have a nice schedule of Grade 1 turf races beginning with the Manhattan on June 7 right through the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic on Sept. 27 that can get a horse to the Breeders' Cup Turf on Oct. 25 at Santa Anita.
"Moving the Man o' War gave better spacing for our turf races,' said P.J. Campo, NYRA's racing secretary. "In previous years, we had three races in a seven-week span: the Sword Dancer at Saratoga, and the Man o' War and Turf Classic at Belmont. We found that schedule didn't really work.'
The Sword Dancer will be run on Aug.16, a week later than usual, and share billing with the Grade 1 Alabama. That leaves Aug. 9 as a very weak Saturday at Saratoga, with the $100,000 Yaddo Handicap for New York-breds as the feature.
Although these changes were necessary to help the schedule leading to the Breeders’ Cup it does hurt that one weak at Saratoga which is the highlight of the NYRA racing year.
As the year comes to a close there are still many New York racing fans that don’t know if on January 1st there will still be live racing in New York. As this plays out in the political playing field, there is some feel good news at NYRA. On Saturday December 8th at Aqueduct they hosted the Grade 3, Queens County Handicap with a purse of slightly over $100,000. Even though in three more weeks he will be 10 years old, EVENING ATTIRE, rallied gamely through the lane under jockey Edgar Prado. After getting off to a slow start, he stalked the leaders from fourth through moderate fractions, he was actually moving up on his own as they headed into the turn but he had to be asked for his best through the lane and he gave it prevailing by a head. It’s great to see an old war horse like him game out a victory against solid competition; it makes you feel good about the racing game. His trainer Pat Kelly was asked, Will he race again next year? His answer was very telling, he said, “If there’s racing next year we’ll be here,” said the trainer. “I don’t know what else we’d do with him.” Let us hope there is racing NEXT YEAR, not just for EVENING ATTIRE, but for New York racing fans and for the racing industry itself.
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