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What you need to know for 01/18/2018

Purse for Whitney doubled to $1.5M

Purse for Whitney doubled to $1.5M

The Travers just got bigger, and the Whitney got even bigger than that.

The Travers just got bigger, and the Whitney got even bigger than that.

The New York Racing Association released the 2014 Saratoga Race Course stakes schedule on Wednesday, and the Travers, which will be run on Aug. 23, has had its purse boosted from $1 million to $1.25 million.

The traditional highlight of the meet will not carry the biggest purse, though, as the Whitney has been doubled from $750,000 to $1.5 million.

New director of racing Martin Panza said he was in favor of big-event days, and as he did by moving the Met Mile and some other stakes to Belmont Stakes weekend, he has turned Whitney Day into a blockbuster, as well.

Besides having one of the most prestigious dirt route stakes in North America, Whitney Day on Aug. 2 will also include the Grade I Test and A.G. Vanderbilt and two listed turf stakes, the De La Rose and Lure.

“Our enhanced Whitney Day reflects our desire to make it one of the most significant days on the national racing calendar,” NYRA CEO and president Chris Kay said in a release.

The 146th Saratoga meet will feature a total of 33 graded flat stakes, including 15 Grade I races, and the two traditional Grade I steeplechases — the A.P. Smithwick and New York Turf Writers Cup.

The stakes purse total is a record $17.45 million.

The Travers card will have fewer graded stakes, but will still include the Grade I Ballerina sprint for fillies and mares, the seven-furlong Grade I King’s Bishop for 3-year-olds and the Grade II Ballston Spa for fillies and mares on the turf.

The day after the Travers will be a new Saratoga Showcase Day featuring six stakes for New York-breds worth a total of $1.15 million, similar to the New York Showcase at Belmont.

The highlight of Saratoga Showcase will be the $250,000 Albany, the third leg of the Big Apple Triple for 3-year-olds that has carried a $250,000 bonus for winning all three legs.

NYRA will attempt to lure two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan back for the third year in a row by continuing to offer the Grade II Fourstardave, worth $500,000 and run at a mile on the turf on Aug. 10.

Opening Day will be July 18 and will feature the traditional opening stakes, the Grade III Schuylerville, for 2-year-old fillies.

Saratoga will continue to have three waves in a series of graded stakes for 2-year-olds, finishing with the Spinaway and Hopeful on the last Sunday of the meet and Labor Day, respectively.

Princess of Sylmar, owned by Schenectady native Ed Stanco, likely will point toward the Grade I Personal Ensign on Aug. 22.

Last year, she won the Coaching Club American Oaks and Alabama at Saratoga to help put herself in position for the 3-year-old filly Eclipse Award, only to lose it to Beholder after the Breeders’ Cup.

Besides the Spinaway and Hopeful, closing weekend will feature a big graded stakes Saturday that includes the Grade I Woodward and Forego and the Grade II Bernard Baruch and Prioress.

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