The tradition-rich Saratoga Race Course meet just picked up two more tradition-rich races for its 40-day summer meet, which the New York Racing Association announced Friday. The $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup and the $600,000 Flower Bowl move from Belmont Park to the Spa, where they will anchor Saratoga’s closing weekend.

Saratoga-2021 season
Saratoga’s 40-day 2021 meet features 76 stakes races. The upstate New York track runs Wednesday-Sunday most weeks during the summer. (Image: NYRA)

Both Grade 1 races were previously held at Belmont Park in the fall. Now, they’ll anchor Saratoga’s Saturday, Sept. 4 card while also serving as Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Challenge Series events.

The 1-¼-mile Jockey Club Gold Cup sends the winner to the flagship Breeders’ Cup Classic. The Flower Bowl, run over 1-3/8 miles on the turf, gives its winner a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf.

Those are two of Saratoga’s 76 stakes races during this summer’s meet, which opens Thursday, July 15, and runs through Labor Day – Monday, Sept. 6. Those 76 stakes – including 20 Grade 1s – offer $21.5 million in total purses. Saratoga will present at least one stakes race every day.

In trade for the Jockey Club Gold Cup and the Flower Bowl, NYRA ships the $750,000 Grade 1 Woodward and the $200,000 Grade 3 Waya to Belmont Park for its fall meet.

Fans May Be Allowed at Saratoga this Season

NYRA officials haven’t announced plans for fan attendance at the Spa this season. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced earlier this month that live sports and entertainment venues can reopen with limited attendance. All attendees must present a negative COVID PCR test taken within 72 hours of the event.

Last year, Saratoga’s meet went off without spectators due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The track still enjoyed a record Whitney Day handle of more than $35.7 million. Saratoga took in more than $702.5 million in total handle last year, a slight 3.9% dip from 2019.

Speaking of the Whitney Handicap, that $1 million Grade 1 event for older horses headlines the Aug. 7 card. Along with offering a berth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, the Whitney is one of three Grade 1s on that card. The undercard features the $500,000 Test for 3-year-old fillies and the $1 million Saratoga Derby Invitational. That’s the second jewel of NYRA’s Turf Triple Series for 3-year-old turf males.

Travers Day Features Six Grade 1s

Saratoga’s other marquee day, Travers Stakes Day, arrives three weeks later. The $1.25 million, 1-¼-mile Travers sends its 3-year-old field out on Aug. 28. The 152nd running of what is widely considered the premier, non-Triple Crown race for sophomores headlines a seven-stakes card. Six of those stakes are Grade 1s.

Three of those offer Breeders’ Cup spots, the $750,000 Sword Dancer (Breeders’ Cup Turf), the $600,000 Personal Ensign (Distaff), and the $500,000 Ballerina (Filly and Mare Sprint). Along with those comes the $600,000 Forego for older sprinters and the $500,000 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial for 3-year-old sprinters.

Saratoga Key 2021 Summer Stakes Races

Race Grade Distance Eligible Horses
July 17 Diana I 1 1/8 miles (turf) 4-Year-Olds and Up Fillies & Mares
July 24 American Oaks I 1 1/8 miles 3-Year-Old Fillies
July 31 Vanderbilt I 6 furlongs 3-Year-Olds and Up
July 31 Jim Dandy II 1 1/8 miles 3-Year-Olds
Aug. 7 Test I 7 furlongs 3-Year-Old Fillies
Aug. 7 Whitney I 1 1/8 miles 4-Year-Olds and Up
Aug. 7 Saratoga Derby Invitational I 1 3/16 miles (turf) 3-Year-Olds
Aug. 14 Fourstardave I 1 mile (turf) 3-Year-Olds and Up
Aug. 21 Alabama I 1 1/4 miles 3-Year-Old Fillies
Aug. 28 Ballston Spa I 1 1/16 miles (turf) 4-Year-Old and Up Fillies & Mares
Aug. 28 Forego I 7 furlongs 4-Year-Olds and Up
Aug. 28 H. Allen Jerkens I 7 furlongs 3-Year-Olds
Aug. 28 Personal Ensign I 1 1/8 miles 4-Year-Olds and Up Fillies & Mares
Aug. 28 Sword Dancer I 1 1/2 miles (turf) 4-Year-Olds and Up
Aug. 28 Travers I 1 1/4 miles 3-Year-Olds
Sept. 4 Flower Bowl I 1 3/8 miles (turf) 3-Year-Olds and Up Fillies & Mares
Sept. 4 Jockey Club Gold Cup I 1 1/4 miles 3-Year-Olds and Up
Sept. 5 Spinaway I 7 furlongs 2-Year-Old Fillies
Sept. 6 Hopeful I 7 furlongs 2-Year-Olds

The $600,000 Grade 2 Jim Dandy serves as Saratoga’s Travers prep. It headlines the Saturday, July 31 card, along with the $350,000 Grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap for sprinters.

Along with the Jockey Club Gold Cup and the Flower Bowl, Saratoga’s closing weekend cards include two key Grade 1 races for 2-year-olds. The first is the $300,000 Spinaway for sprinting fillies on Sunday, Sept. 5. The second is the $300,000 Hopeful, for 2-year-old male sprinters, which closes Saratoga’s 153rd meet on Monday, Sept. 6.