Millions at stake as Belmont's fall season gets under way


On opening day, Laurie Plesa's Miz Mayhem failed to notch her sixth straight win in a field of 10 for Friday's $100,000 Christiecat for sophomore fillies at six furlongs, the first of three stakes on tap last weekend. Tesora, with jockey Javier Castellano aboard, won by a length-and-a half and paid $11.80.

“I learned something the first time I rode the horse in Saratoga [fourth in the Coronation Cup on July 30], she got behind some horses and got in trouble a little bit,” Castellano said. “It was quick with the reactions and I couldn't make up my mind. I learned through experience and it paid off today. I did it a different way today.”

One day to circle on the calendar is Sept. 29, which has been deemed "Super Saturday" and features a trio of "Win and You're In" races for the Breeders' Cup World Championships to be held at Churchill Downs on November 2-3: the Grade 1, $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup for the Breeders' Cup Classic; the Grade 1, $500,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic in the Turf division; and the Grade 1, $350,000 Vosburgh in the Sprint division. Also on the card is the Grade 3, $200,000 Pilgrim for 2-year-olds on the turf.

The stakes action will continue that Sunday with the Grade 2, $200,000 Miss Grillo for 2-year-old fillies on the grass and the $200,000 Temperence Hill Invitational for older horses at 1 5/8 miles.

The lead up to the Breeders' Cup will pick up again on the following Saturday, Oct. 6, with the Grade 1, $500,000 Champagne, a qualifier for the Juvenile on "Future Stars Friday" of Breeders' Cup weekend. The program will also include the Grade 1, $400,000 Beldame for fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles on the main track, the Grade 2, $500,000 Hill Prince for 3-year-olds on the turf, and the $150,000 Belmont Turf Sprint Invitational for 3-year-olds and up.

Jockey Club Gold Cup Day will feature a special edition of Belmont Park Live, airing on MSG+ from 4-6 p.m., while NBC will have live coverage of Champagne Day beginning at 4:30 p.m. First post time is 12:30 p.m. ET on both Sept. 29 and Oct. 6.

Three more Breeders' Cup qualifiers will round out the weekend on Oct. 7. The Grade 1, $500,000 Flower Bowl and the Grade 1, $400,000 Frizette, awarding the winners an all-fees-paid berth into the Filly & Mare Turf and Juvenile Fillies divisions, respectively, while the $150,000 Futurity for juvenile sprinters, moved to the grass for the first time, will carry a berth into the inaugural running of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint. Sunday's first post is at 1:30.

The Grade 2, $200,000 Knickerbocker for 3-year-olds and up on the turf and the Grade 3, $150,000 Matron will highlight Belmont's Columbus Day holiday card Oct. 8.

The Empire State will take the spotlight on Saturday, Oct. 20, when the top New York-breds gather at Belmont Park to complete in eight stakes races worth $1.75 million, highlighted by the $300,000 Empire Classic at 1 1/8 miles. First post is 12:30.

Live racing will be conducted Friday, Saturday and Sunday through this weekend. Racing move to a five-day week beginning Sept. 19, Wednesdays through Sundays. General parking is free, and admission to Belmont Park is $5. For more information, please visit