Feb 8, 2017
Adam Mooshian Photo

Belmont Stakes Racing Festival, Stars & Stripes Day highlight Belmont spring/summer meet

by Heather Pettinger

Racing will commence at Belmont Park on Friday, April 28 with the 54-day spring/summer meet highlighted by the 149th running of the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes on Saturday, June 10.

The oldest and longest leg of racing's vaunted Triple Crown will serve as the centerpiece of the three-day Belmont Stakes Racing Festival, from June 8-10, that comprises 18 stakes worth more than $9.6 million.

Bringing down the curtain on three days of world-class racing, the 1 ½-mile Belmont Stakes, dubbed "the Test of the Champion," will be supported by eight additional graded stakes on Saturday, including five prestigious Grade 1's: the $1.2 million Metropolitan Handicap at a mile, a "Win and You're In" contest for the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile; the $1 million Woodford Reserve Manhattan at 1 ¼ miles on the turf; the $750,000 Ogden Phipps for fillies and mares going 1 1/16 miles, a Breeders' Cup qualifier for the Distaff; the $700,000 Longines Just A Game for turf fillies and mares; and the $700,000 Acorn for 3-year-old fillies at a mile.

Contributing to the stellar Belmont Stakes Day undercard will be the Grade 2, $500,000 Woody Stephens for 3-year-olds at seven furlongs, the Grade 2, $400,000 Brooklyn Invitational for 4-year-olds and up going 1 ½ miles, the Grade 3, $300,000 Jaipur Invitational for turf sprinters 4-years-old and up at six furlongs and the $150,000, 1 1/16-mile Easy Goer for sophomores.

With the Belmont Stakes Draw scheduled on Wednesday, June 7 at Rockefeller Center in Manhattan, the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival will kick off June 8 with a trio of stakes for fillies and mares: the Grade 3, $250,000 Intercontinental for turf fillies and mares going seven furlongs; the Grade 3, $200,000 Wonder Again for sophomores at 1 1/8 miles on the grass; as well as the $150,000 Astoria for 2-year-olds going 5 ½ furlongs.

The BSRF continues Friday, June 9 with six more stakes, topped by the Grade 2, $500,000 New York for turf fillies and mares at 1 ¼ miles, the Grade 2, $250,000 True North for older sprinters and the Grade 3, $400,000 Belmont Gold Cup Invitational at two miles on the turf.

The second must-see event of the Belmont spring/summer meet will be the return of the popular Stars & Stripes Festival on Saturday, July 8. Launched in 2014, the internationally themed day will once again feature a pair of prestigious Grade 1 races on the turf for 3-year-olds in the $1.2 million Belmont Derby Invitational and the $1 million Belmont Oaks Invitational for fillies, both at 1 ¼ miles.

Three additional graded stakes round out the superlative card, including the Grade 3, $400,000 Dwyer for 3-year-olds at a mile, the Grade 2, $350,000 Belmont Sprint Championship, and the Grade 2, $750,000 Suburban Handicap at 1 ¼ miles, both for older horses.

The $100,000 Lynbrook for New York-breds will put the final touches on the Belmont spring/summer meet on Sunday, July 16, before live racing moves to Saratoga Race Course on Friday, July 21.

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