Wednesday, July 29, 2009


When the starting gate opens today for the first race at the famous Saratoga Race Course, the grand dame of American horseracing will launch its 141st season.

Over the course of its 36-day meet, with live racing daily except Tuesdays, Saratoga Race will offer $25 million in purses – tops in the nation – and 34 graded stakes, highlighted by the 140th running of the Grade 1, $1 million Shadwell Travers on Aug. 29.

Both Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird and Belmont Stakes winner Summer Bird have the “Mid-Summer Derby” penciled in on their schedules, but Preakness heroine Rachel Alexandra could be eyeing a rematch with the boys in the 1¼-mile race if she doesn’t go in the Grade 1, $600,000 Alabama the previous week.

The stakes calendar has been rearranged from last year so there is at least one Grade 1 race every Saturday, beginning with the Aug. 1, $500,000 Diana for fillies and mares going nine furlongs on the turf.

“The driving force behind Saratoga’s success is the incredibly high level of racing on an everyday basis,” said NYRA President and Chief Executive Officer Charles E. Hayward. “It’s the premier meet in the United States, run in a beautiful setting in a beautiful area. Racing fans across the country have come to expect the Saratoga meet to be the best in the country.”

And, it is.

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