East Rutherford, NJ --- Making a welcome return to the schedule for 2-year-olds in 2013 will be the lucrative "Fall Final Four" stakes.
This group of races, launched at Garden State Park in the mid-1980s, includes the Governor's Cup 2-year-old colt pace for $500,000 (est.), Three Diamonds 2-year-old filly pace for $400,000 (est.), Valley Victory 2-yeaer-old colt trot for $430,000(est.) and Goldsmith Maid 2-year-old filly trot for $385,000 (est.). The quartet of stakes will be raced in late November, during the New Meadowlands’ fall meet.
Last raced at the Meadowlands in 2006, the placement fits beautifully into the 2013 calendar, which emphasizes unprecedented late-season opportunities for freshmen.
The more lucrative stakes for pacers get under way at Mohawk in late August with nearly 90 percent of the total purse dollars for open stakes offered to 2-year-olds through November.
While the trotters have the Meadowlands combo of the Peter Haughton and Merrie Annabelle during Hambletonian week, more than 80 percent of open stakes money will be dispersed from September forward.
Chronologically, the marquee freshman stakes begin at Mohawk and then travel to Lexington, Ky. for The Red Mile Grand Circuit. The Breeders Crown Eliminations will be raced on Oct. 11 and 12, with the finals on Oct. 19, also at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs.
November will open with a swing through Chicago for the American-Nationals and Indiana Downs for the Elevation. The Matron Stakes at Dover populate mid-November and lead directly into the Fall Final Four. Those eliminations will be raced during the opening weekend of the fall Meadowlands meet, on Nov. 23, with the finals on the following Saturday.
Along the way the Kindergarten Classic presents more opportunities for the trotters leading to the $200,000 (est.) final at Vernon Downs on Oct. 25. The Kentuckiana Management Filly Pace and trot early-closers at Indiana Downs also provide a nice option for pacing and trotting fillies.
Nominations for the Fall Final Four require a Feb. 15 nomination fee of $350. Payments are being handled by the Hambletonian Society and the pertinent information is available on the Society’s website.
The 2013 Stakes Calendar is available now from the U.S. Trotting Association website for scheduling information.