Saratoga meet set to open Friday

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The 2017 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 $18.775 million in purses, will run from Friday through Sept. 4. After opening weekend, racing will be conducted six days a week, Wednesdays through Mondays.

On Aug. 5, the prestigious 1 1/8-mile Whitney, a “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 4 at Del Mar, will pair with the Grade 1, $500,000 Test for 3-year-old fillies, with the Grade 3, $200,000 Fasig-Tipton Waya for turf fillies and mares going 1 1/2 miles rounding out the graded stakes offerings on the first “must-see” card of the meet. Also on Aug. 6 are two additional turf stakes: the $100,000 Fasig-Tipton Lure at 1 1/16 miles and the $100,000 Fasig-Tipton De La Rose for fillies and mares at a mile.

Joining the 148th running of the Mid-Summer Derby for 3-year-olds at 1 1/4 miles on Aug. 26 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 3-year-olds at seven furlongs, and the $700,000 Personal Ensign for fillies and mares going 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 take place July 29, joined by the Grade 1, $350,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap, the Grade 2, $200,000 Amsterdam and the Grade 2, $250,000 Bowling Green.

The Aug. 25 Travers Eve card will again feature the New York Breeders’ Showcase Day, highlighted by the $250,000 Albany for 3-year-olds going 1 1/8 miles and the $150,000 West Point at 1 1/16 miles on the turf.

The opening day card 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 22; the Grade 2, $200,000 Saratoga Special on Aug. 13 and the Grade 1, $350,000 Hopeful on Sept. 4, along with their sister races: the Grade 2, $200,000 Adirondack on Aug. 12 and the Grade 1, $350,000 Spinaway on Sept. 2.

Grade 1 action commences with the $500,000 Diana for turf fillies and mares on July 22, and the $300,000 Coaching Club American Oaks for 3-year-old fillies on July 23. 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. 12; Grade 1, $600,000 Alabama on Aug. 19, and the Travers, Sword Dancer, Personal Ensign, Forego, Ballerina and King’s Bishop on Aug. 26.

Closing weekend of the 149th meeting at Saratoga features the Grade 1, $750,000 Woodward on Sept. 2, with the Grade 2, $250,000 Prioress for 3-year-old fillies taking the spotlight on Sept. 3.