To enhance racehorse safety, the final homestretch fence or fences in hurdle races will not be jumped at Parx Racing, Saratoga Race Couse, and Belmont Park this summer.
The change adheres to a recommendation by Dr. Scott Palmer, the equine medical director of the New York State Gaming Commission. Many racing incidents occur in the latter stages of races when horses are beginning to tire.
The change was inaugurated last September for the two hurdle races at Belmont Park. The National Steeplechase Association and the New York Racing Association previously had decided to eliminate the homestretch fences at Saratoga and Belmont this year. For reasons of safety and consistency, NSA and Parx officials decided to eliminate the final stretch fence at Parx on Tuesday, July 12.
The final fence at Parx and Saratoga and the final two fences at Belmont Park will not be jumped in the final stretch run.
As a result, the Parx and Saratoga races will have approximately a three-furlong run from the final fence on the backstretch to the finish line. At Belmont Park, the run will be five furlongs from the last fence to the finish.
Steeplechase races will be conducted Wednesday and Thursday at Saratoga beginning July 27. The Saratoga program will be highlighted by the $125,000 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) on Thursday, Aug. 4, and the $150,000 New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1) on Thursday, Aug. 25.
The $150,000 Lonesome Glory Stakes (Gr. 1) and the $75,000 William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes will be staged on Thursday, Sept. 22.