Summer officially kicked off on Friday June 21, which means big horse racing weekends are just around the corner, leading off with the Stars And Stripes Racing Festival on July 6th at Belmont Park.
After that, as most race fans are aware, there are two spectacular meets that begin in mid-July, and they anchor a summer calendar that overflows with big-event excitement and elite Thoroughbred racing all the way through Labor Day.
So with sunscreen at the ready, race program in one hand, an adult beverage in the other, here’s a brief look at why summer race rituals rock!
Saratoga is the highlight of the summer on the East Coast. Nestled at the foot of the Adirondack Mountains, The Spa has been a staple of the sporting set for over 150 years. A summer day at Saratoga is like nothing else in the entire world: simultaneously thrilling and incredibly relaxing, fans who journey to The Spa are treated to top-notch racing on historic grounds where the worlds best come to run. It is a mecca for horse lovers and horse-players alike. The main reason summer racing is special is Saratoga.
Another big day to make note of on the east coast is the running of the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park in New Jersey. This year the Grade 1, Million dollar race will be held on Saturday July 20th. If you’re at Saratoga that day, no worries if you want to see it; The Haskell post-time is normally scheduled to go off in between races at The Spa, and is broadcast on the big infield screens. It is the 52nd running of the race, and is the biggest event on the Monmouth summer schedule. A fun tidbit about the Haskell; as the entered horses walk to the track from the paddock, in the post parade, the song “Born To Run” is played- sung by some guy from Jersey.
The Daily Racing Blog will confess to an east coast bias, but we’re not oblivious to the boutique meet that happens on the other side of the country. July 17th is when the season at Del Mar Racetrack begins. They race where the turf meets the surf, tall palm trees swaying in the Pacific breezes, and ocean waves visible from the grandstand. It is where the best horses, and jockeys on the west coast get together to race in the Southern California splendor.
Prior to those big three summer events you have the aforementioned Stars And Stripes Racing Festival at Belmont Park. That wonderful day of racing is Saturday July 6th. It features two Grade 1 Stakes races; the Belmont Derby Invitational, and Belmont Oaks Invitational. Also that day are the Grade 2 Suburban Handicap, and the Grade 3 Dwyer Stakes. DRB will have more on this day of racing next week.