SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (AP) - Saratoga Race Course opens its 146th summer of thoroughbred racing Friday with a richer stakes lineup.
The 40-day meet runs six days a week, excluding Tuesdays, through Labor Day and features a record $17.45 million in stakes purses. Friday's 10-race card includes the $150,000 Schuylerville for 2-year-old fillies on the main track and the $100,000 Sir Cat for 3-year-olds on the turf course.
Saratoga's major races have heftier purses. The 1 1/8-mile Whitney for 3-year-olds and up on Aug. 2 was increased from $750,000 to $1.5 million, making it the most lucrative stakes of the meeting. Grade 1 winners Palace Malice, Will Take Charge and Moonshine Mullin are all pointing to the race.
''The purse structure is second to none,'' said Todd Pletcher, the 10-time Saratoga training champion who trains Palace Malice. ''With the exception of the Breeders' Cup Classic, I think the Whitney is the biggest handicap purse we have in the country, which it probably should be. Saratoga is arguably the most prestigious meet we have. It's always an exciting time.''
The 1 1/4-mile Travers will be run for the 145th time on Aug. 23. Its purse has grown from $1 million to $1.25 million. One of the oldest races for 3-year-olds, the Travers is expected to draw Belmont Stakes winner Tonalist as well as Kentucky Derby runner-up Commanding Curve, Preakness runner-up Ride On Curlin and Grade 1 winner Wicked Strong.
Whitney and Travers days will feature multiple graded-stakes events, and Aug. 24 will be the inaugural Saratoga Showcase, highlighted by six stakes races for horses bred in New York.
In total, Saratoga will host 71 stakes, including 35 graded stakes and 17 Grade 1 races, starting with Saturday's $500,000 Diana for fillies and mares on the turf.
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Mike DempseyMike covers the New York racing circuit (Aqueduct, Belmont Park, and Saratoga) year round as well as Keeneland, Churchill Downs, the Triple Crown, and the Breeders' Cup. The 2015 Triple Crown saw Mike correctly predict American Pharoah to win both the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes. Mike nailed the Exacta and Trifecta in the Belmont Stakes. Mike had a solid 2014 Triple Crown race season, correctly picking the winning horse in 2 of 3 races. He selected I'll Have another to win The Preakness, and nailed Union Rags to win the Belmont Stakes as his top pick. Mike also had past success in the Kentucky Derby, winning with Animal Kingdom in 2011 and rode his top picks, Super Saver and Street Sense, to the finish line in 2010 and 2007 respectively. No handicapper in the industry works harder to bring you analysis that produces profits at the track! Mike's Reports include his selections, detailed analysis, a fair odds line, and wagering recommendations for the entire card. Join Mike each day with daily picks from Aqeuduct and Del Mar or you can get his Weekend Best Plays Report in his Multi-Track package or sit at the track with him for 30 Days with his Monthly Horse Package!
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