Tuesday was a busy day for the New York Racing Association. The date for this year’s running of the Belmont Stakes was officially announced for Saturday, June 20, as was a condensed stakes schedule for the upcoming Spring/Summer meet.
Additionally, the NYRA also took the wraps off of some new initiatives and rule changes for the coming season which are being made with an eye towards the overall safety and welfare of jockeys and horses.
Included on the list are new rules for horses that are either coming off of a layoff or making their debut as a four-year-old. From the release:
More than 180 days: Horses which have not started in more than 180 days, or less than 365 days, will be placed on the Veterinarians’ List and must be presented to the NYRA Veterinarian prior to racing.
More than 365 days: Horses which have not raced in 365 days will automatically be added to the Veterinarians’ List and must satisfy the same requirements for removal from the Veterinarians’ List as horses designated as “unsound.” If a start has not been made within 60 days of the NYRA Veterinarians’ clearance then the horse will be placed back on the Veterinarians’ list.
Horses making their first start after February 1 of their 4-year-old year: Horses which have not made a start prior to February 1 of their 4-year-old year will automatically be placed on the Veterinarians’ List and must satisfy the same requirements for removal from the Veterinarians’ List as horses designated as “unsound.” If a start has not been made within 60 days of the NYRA Veterinarians’ clearance then the horse will be placed back on the Veterinarians’ List.
Additional changes revolve around rules for Waiver Claiming races and a New Trainer Entry rule. For the former, the most notable change says the following: “The waiver rule can only be applied to said horse’s first start following each such layoff.”
On the trainer front, here’s how the new rule reads.
In all overnight races no same trainer entry will be allowed to draw into the body of a race to the exclusion of a different trainer entrant. At time of entry, trainers must designate a “different owner first choice (DO1) and a “different owner second choice (DO2).”
Stakes races are excluded from this rule. A different owner second entry (DO2) is preferred over a same owner second entry (SO2).
Improved safety initiatives are always a welcome sight, especially in the current environment. We can safely assume that there will be at least some changes initiated at tracks across the nation as they return to live racing action.
As for Belmont, opening day has been scheduled for Wednesday, June 1. It’ll be a 25-day meet in total which will run Wednesday through Sunday during week one, followed by a Thursday through Sunday schedule for all subsequent weeks.
Changes are also coming for the Belmont Stakes itself, which is now in the unusual position of being the first as opposed to the last of the Triple Crown races. The Belmont is traditionally contested over 1 1/2 miles, but the length has been dropped to 1 1/8 miles for this year’s running.
The NYRA also announced a condensed stakes schedule for the shortened meet. There will now be 22 graded races, beginning with the $100,000 Beaugay on opening day. Most Saturday cards will be highlighted by several stakes races.
That holds true for Saturday, July 4, which looks like the biggest day to look forward to outside of Belmont Stakes day. Here’s a peek at the stakes schedule for Independence Day.
- $500,000 Runhappy Metropolitan
- $400,000 Manhattan
- $200,000 Suburban
- $150,000 Poker
The Belmont Park schedule will be lighter than normal, but it still shapes up to be an exciting meet. You can count us in the camp of those who are looking forward to it.