The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) released the stakes schedule for Aqueduct Racetrack’s 2012 winter/spring meet, with the Grade 1, $1 million Resorts World Casino New York City Wood Memorial on Saturday, April 7 the centerpiece of 13 graded stakes worth $3.75 million for the 79-day meet which begins on January 1.
The $3.75 million in graded stakes purses represents a 44 percent increase over the $2.6 million in graded stakes purses during the 2011 winter/spring meet, which had 11 graded stakes.
The increase in purses is possible due to the opening of Genting’s Resorts World Casino New York City at Aqueduct. During the first year of the casino’s operations, 6.5 percent of the revenue from the Video Lottery Terminals must go to NYRA’s purse structure.
Two graded races returning to the Big A stakes schedule after a year hiatus are the Grade 3, $200,000 Withers for 3-year-olds, which will be run on Saturday, February 4, and the Grade 2, $200,000 Top Flight for 3-year-old & up fillies and mares, which will be run on Saturday, March 3.
The Withers will be run on a card with the Grade 3, $150,000 Toboggan for sprinters and will serve as a prep race for the Grade 3, $400,000 Gotham, which will be run Saturday, March 3 on a card with the Top Flight and the Grade 3, $200,000 Tom Fool for sprinters.
The 88th running of the Wood will be featured on NBC’s "Road to the Kentucky Derby" series, airing April 7 from 4:30 – 6 p.m. during a broadcast that will also include live coverage of the Santa Anita Derby.
Additional stakes on Wood Day comprise the prestigious Grade 1, $400,000 Carter for 3-year-olds & up going seven furlongs, the Grade 3, $250,000 Bay Shore for 3-year-olds going seven furlongs and the Grade 3, $250,000 Comely for 3-year-old fillies going a mile.
Aqueduct’s slate of graded stakes also includes the Grade 3, $150,000 Cicada on Saturday, March 10, the Grade 3, $150,000 Excelsior on Saturday, March 17, the Grade 2, $200,000 Distaff on Saturday, April 14, and the Grade 2, $200,000 Jerome on Saturday, April 21.
In addition, the Big A will offer 16 listed and New York-bred stakes, beginning New Year’s Day with the $75,000 Interborough and the $75,000 Ladies.
Highlights of the listed stakes schedule include the $150,000 Count Fleet for 3-year-olds and the $100,000 Busanda for 3-year-old fillies on Saturday, January 7, the $100,000 Correction for filly and mare sprinters on Saturday, February 4, and the $100,000 Fred "Cappy" Capossela for 3-year-old sprinters on Saturday, March 10.
"We are very excited to announce this enhanced Aqueduct winter stakes schedule," said NYRA Vice President and Director of Racing P. J. Campo. "Placing the Withers in early February on a card also featuring the Toboggan and Correction creates another marquee day of racing during the meet. Additionally, with the Gotham’s purse increased to $400,000 to go along with the addition of the Withers, our 3-year-old stakes program is on par with any track in the country. We are hopeful that our horsemen will respond positively to the new stakes schedule and believe it will generate a lot of interest for our fans."
The Aqueduct winter/spring stakes schedule, which was approved by the NYRA Board of Directors, now awaits approval from the New York State Racing and Wagering Board.
The remainder of the 2012 NYRA stakes schedule will be announced at a later date.
Aqueduct Winter/Spring Meet, 79 days, January 1 – April 22
Dark Mondays and Tuesdays except: Open: Monday, January 2, 16 and February 20;
Dark: Wednesday, January 4, 18; Wednesday, February 22; Sunday April 1, 8.
Post Times: 12:20 p.m. daily January 1- February 26; 1 p.m. daily February 29 – April 22