Friday’s two races at Monmouth Park mark the beginning of a busy and exciting summer season of steeplechase racing that also features a revised and expanded program of jump racing at historic Saratoga Race Course.
The races at Monmouth are the first at New Jersey’s gem on the Atlantic shore since 2010. The first race is a $25,000 Sport of Kings maiden hurdle and the third race is an $30,000 optional allowance claiming hurdle. Both races feature full fields. First post time is 12:50 p.m.
The action then shifts to Pennsylvania for an afternoon of jump racing at Parx Racing in suburban Philadelphia on Tuesday, July 1. Scheduled for the Parx program are a $30,000 optional allowance claiming hurdle and a $25,000 Sport of Kings maiden hurdle, which may be split into two divisions if a sufficient number of horses are entered.
Saratoga will feature 11 steeplechase races, with one race each Thursday and a race on most Wednesdays of the 40-day season. Purses total $875,000, compared with last year’s $745,000.
Saratoga marked its 150th birthday last year, and this is the 150th anniversary of steeplechase racing at the Saratoga Springs, N.Y., landmark. The first day of the brand-new Saratoga Association race meet in 1864 was a steeplechase race, over hurdles on the main track.
That race, won by Garryowen, was described by the Daily Saratogian as the most popular race of the meet. The tradition of popular steeplechase racing at America’s premier race track continues to today. Highlighting the 2014 schedule is the $150,000 New York Turf Writers Cup on Thursday, Aug. 21. The New York Turf Writers will be run this year in memory of Thomas H. Voss, the popular Maryland horseman who died in January.
Saratoga’s other Grade 1 steeplechase race, the A. P. Smithwick Memorial, will be run three weeks earlier, on July 31.
Steeplechasing’s rising stars in the novice division are featured in the $75,000 Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes on July 24 and the $75,000 Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes on Aug. 14. Fillies and mares are featured in the $75,000 Mrs. Ogden Phipps on Aug. 7 and the $75,000 Mrs. Walter M. Jeffords on Aug. 28.
The action begins on Wednesday, July 23, with a $65,000 allowance hurdle. A $65,000 optional allowance claiming hurdle is on the schedule for Wednesday, July 30. Allowance hurdles are slated for Wednesday, Aug. 6 and Wednesday, Aug. 27. A $65,000 optional allowance claiming hurdle will be run on Wednesday, Aug. 20.
Here is the schedule of Saratoga jump racing:
Wednesday, July 23 $65,000 allowance hurdle
Thursday, July 24 $75,000 Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes
Wednesday, July 30 $65,000 allowance optional claiming hurdle
Thursday, July 31 $100,000 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1)
Wednesay, Aug. 6 $65,000 allowance hurdle
Thursday, Aug. 7 $75,000 Mrs. Ogden Phipps Stakes
Thursday, Aug. 14 $75,000 Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes
Wednesday, Aug. 20 $65,000 allowance optional claiming hurdle
Thursday, Aug. 21 $150,000 New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1)
Wednesday, Aug. 27 $65,000 allowance hurdle
Thursday, Aug. 28 $75,000 Mrs. Walter M. Jeffords Stakes