Aqueduct Racetrack


Aqueduct Racetrack

Aqueduct Racetrack, known as the Big A, is a horse racetrack in the neighborhood of Ozone Park in the New York City borough of Queens.

History

The racetrack opened in 1894 and was rebuilt in 1959; the 1959 design was by noted racetrack architect Arthur Froehlich of the architecture firm, Arthur Froehlich and Associates of Beverly Hills, California. Additional renovations were made in 2001, 2006 and 2007.

Before 1976, the Inner Dirt Track was a turf course and it was known as the Main Turf Course, with the lone present turf course bearing the name of the Inner Turf Course; following the conclusion of racing in 1975 the grass on the Main Turf Course was uprooted and the Inner Dirt Track took its place to permit year-round racing. (In the first few years after Aqueduct was rebuilt in 1959 the track lay idle from early November until April 1; by 1971 this period had been reduced to from shortly before Christmas until March 1, and in the latter year off-track betting began in New York City, creating a demand for horse racing to be contested in the region throughout the year).

Today a single meeting is held annually at Aqueduct; it typically begins on the last Wednesday in October and runs all the way through the first Sunday in May. Races are run on the Inner Dirt Track between the second Wednesday in December and the third Sunday in March in most years. Prior to 1977, a summer meeting was also conducted at Aqueduct, running from mid-June to the end of July. From 1963 through 1967, races normally run at Belmont Park (including the Belmont Stakes) were run at Aqueduct instead while Belmont's grandstand was being rebuilt.

Today few important races are run at Aqueduct, mainly due to the unfavorable weather conditions that prevail during its racing season; however the prestigious Jockey Club Gold Cup was usually run there between 1958 and 1974, and what was perhaps the track's most distinctive race, the marathon, 2¼ mile (3621 m) Display Handicap, was last contested in 1990. The track played host to the second ever Breeders' Cup, in 1985.

Every weekend, a flea market is run in the racetrack's north parking lot. Pope John Paul II said mass in front of a large crowd at Aqueduct in October, 1995.

Aqueduct Racetrack is where Hall of Fame horse Cigar won the first two races in his sixteen-race win streak. Cigar's second win came in the 1994 NYRA Mile, a Grade 1 race that is now named in the horse's honor.

Aqueduct is also the site of the first, and presently, the only triple dead heat for win in a stakes race. In the 1944 running of the Carter Handicap, Brownie, Bossuet, and Wait A Bit hit the finish line at the same time. [ [http://www.nyra.com/chart/stakes1a.asp?stakeid=409&track=A NYRA: The Carter Handicap] , accessed June 25 2006]

On April 8 2006, during an eleven-race program at Aqueduct that included the Wood Memorial Stakes, a rare event happened when dead heats for each of the three "money" positions (Win, Place and Show) occurred in three separate races. Saint Anddan and Criminal Mind dead-heated for Place in race 5, Naragansett and Emotrin dead-heated for Show in race 6, and Karakorum Tuxedo and Megatrend dead-heated for Win in race 10. [ [http://www.nyra.com/chart/dailyresults.asp?track=A&chartdate=4/8/2006 NYRA: Aqueduct results for Saturday, April 8 2006 ] , accessed June 25 2006]

Sportscaster Tom Durkin is the chief track announcer at Aqueduct and the other NYRA tracks. John Imbriale, the veteran NYRA backup and TV host, is the race caller during the winter section of the Aqueduct season.

Proposal to close track

In May 2007, reports indicated that former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer was considering closing the track and selling the convert|192|acre|km2|sing=on track and its stables, which currently house 400 horses, to developers when the New York Racing Association lease expires at the end of 2007. According to the reports, Belmont, which is four miles (6 km) east in Elmont, New York, would become a nearly year-round track and would get the video lottery machines now authorized to eventually operate at Aqueduct. The Belmont track would be modified to handle winter requirements and the stands would be modified to be heated and new stables would have to be built.

According to the plans being discussed, the oldest and most historic track in the state, Saratoga, would be operated by the New York Racing Association and a new entity would operate Belmont. Aqueduct traditionally has been considered a track frequented by blue collar fans while Belmont has a more upscale reputation.

Queens Democrat councilwoman Audrey I. Phieffer, whose district includes Aqueduct, is preparing to fight the closing of the historic track which she feels is important to the local community. Any closure at Aqueduct, which is equipped for the cold winter months, would require millions of dollars in renovations at Belmont, a summer only track. Belmont is also hampered by its North-oriented Grandstand-which would cause shadows in the winter months. Belmont is the only US racecourse (with the exceptions of Santa Anita Park and Thistledown) to be North-oriented. All others in the US are oriented either East-or rarely-west. [ [http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/20/nyregion/20racing.html?ex=1337313600&en=45f58160880c431c&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss Spitzer Is Said to Consider Shutting Aqueduct by Bill Finley - New York Times - May 20 2007 ] ]

NYRA was planning to cease all operations after completing the racing card of February, 10, 2008. This was averted when a deal was reached with NYRA and New York State. [ [http://www.cbs6albany.com/video/?bcpid=1137806146&bclid=1143371293&bctid=1407498480 CBS 6 Albany : Video ] ]

hinnecock Proposal for Casino

In October 2007 the Shinnecock Indian Nation made a $2 billion proposal to open a casino at the track. The proposal was in conjunction with Marian Ilitch, a co-owner of the Detroit Red Wings.

The proposal according to most sources was dead on arrival since even if the Shinnecocks received official Bureau of Indian Affairs recognition as a tribe (which they are still awaiting), the Aqueduct Casino would still have to be approved by the New York State Legislature, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and Aqueduct would have to first be taken into trust by the Department of Interior since the Shinnecocks historically had not owned property in Queens. [ [http://blog.mlive.com/snapshots/2007/10/ilitches_new_york_city_casino.html East Hampton Star, October 20, 2007, via mlive.com] ]

Physical attributes

It is the only racetrack located within New York City limits, and houses the New York Racing Association's headquarters.

The track itself has three courses: The Main Track (dirt) has a circumference of 1 1/8 miles (1811 m); inside of this is the Inner Dirt Track (consisting of a special type of dirt over which races are run during the winter months), which is exactly one mile (1609 m) long; and the innermost course is a turf (grass) course, spanning 7 furlongs plus 43 feet (1421 m). The track has seating capacity of 17,000 but total capacity of 90,000.

Oddly, the stretch on the inner dirt track (1,174 ft) is longer than the stretch on the main track (1,153 ft), due to the structure of the turns.

Racing

The following graded stakes are run at Aqueduct:

* Grade I Carter Handicap
* Grade I Cigar Mile Handicap
* Grade I Wood Memorial Stakes
* Grade II Comely Stakes
* Grade II Demoiselle Stakes
* Grade II Distaff Breeders' Cup Handicap
* Grade II Red Smith Handicap
* Grade II Remsen Stakes
* Grade II Top Flight Handicap
* Grade II Bed O' Roses Breeders' Cup Handicap

* Grade III Long Island Handicap
* Grade III Aqueduct Handicap
* Grade III Athenia Handicap
* Grade III Bay Shore Stakes
* Grade III Beaugay Handicap
* Grade III Busher Stakes
* Grade III The Cicada
* Grade III Excelsior Breeders’ Cup Handicap
* Grade III Fort Marcy Handicap
* Grade III Gotham Stakes
* Grade III Gravesend Handicap
* Grade III Knickerbocker Handicap
* Grade III Nashua Stakes
* Grade III Next Move Handicap
* Grade III Queens County Handicap
* Grade III Stuyvesant Handicap
* Grade III Tempted Stakes
* Grade III The Toboggan Handicap
* Grade III Turnback The Alarm Handicap
* Grade III Valley Stream Stakes
* Grade III Withers Stakes
* Grade III Sport Page Breeders' Cup Handicap

Important ungraded races:

* The Stymie
* Whirlaway Stakes
* Ruthless Stakes
* Gallant Fox Handicap
* Affectionately Handicap
* Busanda Stakes
* Jimmy Winkfield Stakes
* Count Fleet Stakes
* Whirlaway Stakes

Transportation

The track has its own station—Aqueduct Racetrack station—on the New York City Subway, served by the IND Rockaway Line (NYCS Rockaway north) train. It is only open from 11 am to 7 pm on days when the track is open. However, it is also the system's only single direction station, with a single side platform on the Manhattan-bound side, requiring travelers to double back at Aqueduct–North Conduit Avenue station, which is a little over a city block south. NYRA also operates a free shuttle bus between the North Conduit Avenue station and the Clubhouse entrance.

Buses on the Q7, Q11, Q37 routes pass nearby.

Popular culture

*In "Lucky Number Slevin" in the beginning of the movie the father and son are at Aqueduct Racetrack.

*There is a scene with Aqueduct Racetrack in the movie "A Bronx Tale".

*A scene from "A Shock to the System" was filmed in the old Aqueduct Raceway Station.

ee also

*New York Racing Association
*Belmont Park
*Saratoga Race Course

References

External links

* [http://www.nyra.com/index_aqueduct.html Aqueduct Racetrack official site]


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