Travers, Whitney Days highlight 2018 Saratoga meet

OZONE PARK — The 2018 meet at historic Saratoga Race Course will again be highlighted by the Grade 1, $1.2 million Whitney and the Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers, the centerpieces of two of the biggest days in North American racing.

The 40-day meet, which includes 69 stakes worth $18.8 million in purses, will run from July 20, through Labor Day, September 3.

After opening weekend, racing will be conducted six days a week, Wednesdays through Mondays.

On Aug. 4, the prestigious 1 1/8-mile Whitney will pair with the Grade 1, $500,000 Longines Test for 3-year-old fillies at seven furlongs.

A trio of turf stakes on Whitney Day round out the offerings on the first “must-see” card of the meet: the Grade 3, $200,000 Waya for fillies and mares going 1 1/2 miles; the $100,000 Lure at 1 1/16 miles and the $100,000 De La Rose for fillies and mares at a mile.

Joining the 149th running of the Mid-Summer Derby for 3-year-olds at 1 1/4 miles on Aug. 25 will be five other Grade 1 stakes on Travers Day: the $1 million Sword Dancer Invitational at 1 ½ miles on the turf, the $500,000 Ballerina for filly and mare sprinters, the $600,000 Forego at seven furlongs, the $500,000 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial, formerly known as the King’s Bishop, for sophomores going seven furlongs, and the $700,000 Personal Ensign for fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles. Rounding out the blockbuster card is the Grade 2, $400,000 Woodford Reserve Ballston Spa for turf fillies and mares.

The traditional local prep for the Travers, the Grade 2, $600,000 Jim Dandy, will be held July 28, and is joined by the Grade 1, $350,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap for older sprinters, the Grade 2, $250,000 Bowling Green at 1 3/8 miles on the grass, and the Grade 3, $200,000 Amsterdam for 3-year-olds at 6 ½ furlongs.

Travers Eve, Aug. 24, will again feature the popular New York Showcase Day, highlighted by the $250,000 Albany for 3-year-olds going 1 1/8 miles and the $200,000 Funny Cide for budding New York-bred stars.

Opening Day, July 20 will kick off with a pair of graded stakes: the Grade 3, $150,000 Schuylerville for 2-year-old fillies and the Grade 3, $150,000 Lake George for 3-year-old turf fillies.

Continuing the juvenile dirt stakes tradition at the Spa are the Grade 3, $150,000 Sanford on July 21; the Grade 2, $200,000 Saratoga Special, presented by Miller Lite, on Aug. 12 and the Grade 1, $350,000 Hopeful on Monday, September 3, along with their sister races: the Grade 2, $200,000 Adirondack on Aug. 11 and the Grade 1, $350,000 Spinaway on Sept. 1.

Grade 1 action commences with the $500,000 Diana for turf fillies and mares on July 21, and the $300,000 Coaching Club American Oaks for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles on July 22.

Continuing the world-class offerings are the aforementioned Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap, Whitney and Test; the Grade 1, $500,000 Fourstardave Handicap at a mile on the turf on Aug. 11; and the Grade 1, $600,000 Alabama on Aug. 18, in addition to the Travers, Sword Dancer, Personal Ensign, Forego, Ballerina and King’s Bishop on Aug. 25.

Closing weekend of the 2018 Saratoga meet features the Grade 1, $750,000 Woodward on Sept. 1, with the Grade 2, $250,000 Prioress for 3-year-old fillies taking the spotlight on Sept. 2. On Closing Day, the Grade 2, $250,000 Bernard Baruch Handicap on the turf joins the Hopeful on Sept. 3, to bring down the curtain on the 150th meeting at Saratoga.