Big Winter Stakes at Aqueduct – QNS.com

Big Winter Stakes at Aqueduct

Derby Trail Races Highlight Inner Track Meet

The New York Racing Association announced the stakes schedule for the 2015 winter meet at Aqueduct Racetrack, with 23 stakes worth more than $3 million as well as the inaugural running of the New York Claiming Championship Series scheduled for Saturday, Mar. 21.

The winter meet, which runs through Mar. 22, features five graded stakes, including a trio of important events around two turns for newly minted 3-yearolds: the Grade 2, $200,000 Jerome Stakes at 1 mile, 70 yards on Jan. 3, the Grade 3, $250,000 Withers Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on Saturday, Feb. 7, and the Grade 3, $400,000 Gotham Stakes, also at 1 1/16 miles, on Saturday, Mar. 7.

Rounding out the graded stakes are the Grade 3, $150,000 Toboggan Stakes on Feb. 7 and the Grade 3, $200,000 Tom Fool Handicap on Mar. 7, both at six furlongs.

New to the winter schedule is the New York Claiming Championship Series, which will feature a number of lucrative starter allowance races in different categories for the blue-collar horses who comprise the backbone of winter racing at the Big A.

“The inaugural New York Claiming Championship Series gives those horses who have run at Aqueduct during the winter months their chance to shine on a prominent day of racing,” said Martin Panza, NYRA’s senior vice president of racing operations. “The Claiming Crown [currently run at Gulfstream Park in December] has been very successful, and we anticipate a great day of championship racing for our claiming horses and an enthusiastic crowd of their loyal followers for this new event.”

The new year begins with a quartet of stakes: the $100,000 Affectionately Stakes for fillies and mares on Thursday, Jan. 1; the $100,000 Fred “Cappy” Capossela Stakes for 3-year-old sprinters on Friday, Jan. 2; the aforementioned Jerome on Jan. 3; and the $100,000 Ruthless Stakes for 3-year-old filly sprinters on Sunday, Jan. 4.

Also on the schedule are four six furlong stakes for New York-breds: the $100,000 Hollie Hughes Stakes on Jan. 18; the $125,000 Rego Park for 3-year-olds on Jan. 24; the $125,000 Franklin Square for 3-year-old fillies on Feb. 1; and the $100,000 Broadway for filly and mares on Feb. 14.

The winter meet concludes on Sunday, Mar. 22, with the 58th running of the $100,000 Stymie at 1 1/8 miles.

The stakes schedule for Aqueduct’s spring meet, highlighted by the Grade 1, $1 million Wood Memorial and the Grade 1, $400,000 Carter Handicap, will be announced in the coming days.

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