With Super Saturday on September 27 serving as the centerpiece of an enhanced stakes schedule worth $11 million, Belmont Park's fall championship meet will open Friday and run for 38 days through October 26.
In addition to six graded stakes, Super Saturday will feature a Tom Durkin bobblehead giveaway and autograph signing by the legendary and now-retired track announcer, a food truck festival and a Family Fun Day filled with activities for fans young and old.
On track, Super Saturday will feature six graded stakes, including five Grade 1 races, headed by the 96th edition of the $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup at 1 1/4 miles. Also on the day are the $600,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic, the $600,000 Flower Bowl for turf fillies and mares, the $400,000 Beldame for fillies and mares, the $400,000 Vosburgh for sprinters and the $400,000 Kelso Handicap.
The Vosburgh, the Flower Bowl, the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic and the Jockey Club Gold Cup are all Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You're In" events, with the winners earning a fees-paid berth in the Breeders' Cup on October 31 and November 1 at Santa Anita.
The following Saturday, October 4, juveniles will take center stage at Belmont, with the Champagne and the Frizette serving as "Win and You're In" springboards to the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and Juvenile Fillies.
Belmont Park will also play host to Oktoberfest on October 4, featuring a beer and chili festival.
The always-popular New York Showcase Day returns on October 18, with a celebration of all things New York, including a pumpkin patch, food, arts and crafts vendors in the grandstand and eight stakes races restricted to New York-breds, with purses totaling $1.75 million.
Opening weekend features four stakes, beginning with the first edition of the $100,000 Left Bank at a mile on Friday and continuing with the $100,000 Yankee Affair at 1 1/2 miles on the Widener Turf on Saturday. Sunday will feature a pair of stakes in the $100,000 Sky Beauty for fillies and mares and the $100,000 Real Courage at seven furlongs on the Widener turf.
The Left Bank, a prep for the Kelso, features multiple Grade 1 winner Alpha, dead-heat winner of the 2012 Travers along with Golden Ticket, who is also entered in the Left Bank.
Alpha, who also captured the 2013 Woodward, enters off a distant third-place effort in the $100,000 Alydar at Saratoga on August 17. Golden Ticket, meanwhile, has been unplaced in three straight outings since a close second-place effort in the May 2 Alysheba at Churchill Downs.
Multiple Grade 2 victor Pants On Fire, a half-length second in the Philip H. Iselin at Monmouth Park on August 17, also figures to attract wide support. Other leading contenders in the six-horse Left Bank are Integrity, hero of the $95,000 Elusive Quality over seven furlongs at Belmont in early May, and recent Alydar runner-up Stormin Monarcho.
Graded stakes action begins on September 13 with a pair of turf races for fillies and mares -- the Grade 2, $500,000 Sands Point at 1 1/8 miles and the Grade 3, $200,000 Noble Damsel at a mile.
With live racing generally conducted Wednesdays through Sundays, first post is at 1:05 p.m. (EDT) in September, and 12:50 p.m. beginning October 1.