ELMONT, N.Y. – A total of 42 stakes worth $10.625 million, two “super” Saturdays and fan-friendly activities are among the highlights as thoroughbred racing returns to Belmont Park for its 38-day fall meet, which runs from Friday, September 9 through Sunday, October 30.
On opening day, a field of 10 3-year-old fillies will gather on the turf for the $100,000 Christiecat, the first of three stakes scheduled for opening weekend.
Chad Brown, who clinched his first training title at Saratoga Race Course, looks to pick up right where he left off with Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Ava’s Kitten in the six-furlong race over the inner turf. The graded-stakes placed daughter of Kitten’s Joy, who took a pair of turf races last year at Belmont, picked up her first victory this year on August 20 when shortened up to 5 ½ furlongs on the turf at Saratoga Race Course.
Javier Castellano rides from post position 5.
Trainer Tom Proctor will saddle a formidable pair in the Christiecat: Coco as in Chanel, winner of the Stormy Blue in June at Pimlico, and Most Beautiful, a Group 3 winner in Ireland making her North American debut. Jose Lezcano will ride Coco as in Chanel while Manny Franco will be aboard Most Beautiful from post positions 1 and 2, respectively.
Graham Motion also will bring an international flavor to the Christiecat when he sends out the Irish-bred Miss Katie May, who won the Alywow in June at Woodbine, along with Ultra Brat, winner of an allowance at Delaware Park last time out. Miss Katie May drew post position 10 under John Velazquez while Ultra Brat drew just to her inside with Joel Rosario named to ride.
Rounding out the field are Athena’s Aegis, a recent maiden winner for Tom Morley; Coastal Sea, undefeated in two starts sprinting on the turf at Laurel Park; Sky My Sky, most recently seventh in the Riskaverse at the Spa; Tizanillusion, DQed from first to third in a starter allowance on August 4 at Saratoga, and supplemental entry Malibu Stacey, making her turf debut.
Libreta is entered Main Track Only.
Stakes action continues Saturday with the $100,000 Seattle Slew at 1 1/16 miles for 4-year-olds and up on Sunday with the $100,000 Allied Forces for sophomores going six furlongs on the turf. First race post time is 1:30 p.m.
The first of two spectacular Saturdays of racing leading up to the Breeders’ Cup World Thoroughbred Championships is Joe Hirsh Turf Classic Day, October 1, featuring the Grade 1, $600,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational and four other graded stakes: the Grade 1, $400,000 Beldame Invitational for fillies and mares, the Grade 1, $350,000 Vosburgh Invitational for sprinters, the Grade 2, $300,000 Gallant Bloom Handicap for fillies and mares and the Grade 3, $200,000 Pilgrim for 2-year-olds on the turf.
The Joe Hirsch and the Vosburgh are both “Win and You’re In” qualifiers for the Breeders’ Cup Turf and Breeders’ Cup Sprint, respectively, with the winners earning automatic berths and fees-paid trips to Santa Anita Park in November.
First race post time on October 1 is 12:30 p.m. ET.
October 8 at Belmont is Jockey Club Gold Cup Day, highlighted by the 98th running of the Grade 1, $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup Invitational. The 1 ¼-mile race, which offers the winner a fees-paid trip to the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, will be supported by the Grade 1, $500,000 Flower Bowl Invitational for fillies and mares on the turf, the Grade 1, $500,000 Champagne for 2-year-olds, the Grade 1, $400,000 Frizette for 2-year-old fillies, and the Grade 3, $500,000 Hill Prince for 3-year-olds on the turf.
Like the Jockey Club Gold Cup, the Flower Bowl [Filly & Mare Turf], the Champagne [Juvenile] and the Frizette [Juvenile Fillies] guarantees the winners spots in the starting gate for their respective Breeders’ Cup races.
First race post time on October 8 is 12:15 p.m. ET.
The spotlight will shine on the Empire State on Saturday, October 22, when the top New York-breds gather at Belmont Park to compete in eight stakes races highlighted by the $300,000 Empire Classic. Belmont Park also will host Taste New York featuring local New York wines, spirits and food, along with craft vendors, fall-themed family activities and the return of College Day, in which area students can compete for prizes and win scholarships.
Belmont Live will return opening weekend, September 9-11, with two-hour live telecasts on MSG+. Running from 4-6 p.m., Belmont Live will continue through October 2 and return for a special broadcast on Empire Showcase Day.
Live racing is generally conducted Wednesdays through Sundays, with first race post time at 1:30 p.m. through Sunday, October 2, after which first race post time will be 12:55 p.m. General parking is free, and admission to Belmont Park is $5. For more information, please visit NYRA.com.