Most horseracing fans think of the spring and summer as prime horse racing seasons, but Aqueduct Racetrack in Ozone Park, New York offers exciting thoroughbred racing in the winter with a meet that runs from early November through late April. Aqueduct features a specially designed “winterized” inner track that does not freeze and allows racing to be conducted even in a snowstorm!
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While New York racing is famous for Saratoga and Belmont Park, “The Big A” has been around since 1894 and is the only racetrack in New York City. The track sits on 210 acres in the borough of Queens and is just eight miles from Belmont Park.
Since turf courses are more difficult to maintain in the winter, the winterized inner track replaced the inner turf course at Aqueduct in 1975. In recent years Aqueduct has undergone another significant change. A multi-level, 415,000 square foot casino was added in 2011. Resorts World Casino New York City now occupies the former grandstand of Aqueduct and provides more than 5,000 slot machine games which help to subsidize purses for live racing. Many racing purists have balked at the idea of casino involvement in racing, but in many racing jurisdictions this has become a necessity.
Richard Migliore is the all-time leading jockey at The Big A with 2238 wins. It takes a special kind of jockey to brave the bitter cold. Gasper Moschera is the leading trainer with 925 wins in his career, but that mark may soon falls to the likes of Gary Contessa and Bruce Levine. Both of these trainers are perennial standouts at Aqueduct.
The marquee event at Aqueduct is the Grade 1 Wood Memorial which is a key prep for the Kentucky Derby. It has hosted some of the most legendary horses on their way to the Triple Crown series. Most famously, Secretariat lost the Wood Memorial just a few weeks before winning the Triple Crown. In recent years the winner of the Wood Memorial has not fared all that well in the pursuit of the Kentucky Derby. Toby’s Corner (2011), Eskendereya (2010) and I Want Revenge (2009) were all probable favorites for Kentucky Derby after winning the Wood Memorial but each suffered injuries and never made it to the starting gate in Louisville. The 2012 winner of the Wood Memorial, Gemologist, finished 16th in the Kentucky Derby.
EZ Horse Betting Not-So-Fun Fact
Hall of Fame jockey Eddie Arcaro won the Wood Memorial a record nine times!.
Many historic moments have happened at Aqueduct. The only triple dead heat in stakes history happened at The Big A on June 10, 1944 when Brownie, Bossuet, and Wait a Bit crossed the wire at exactly the same moment. Because of its great history, Aqueduct is sure to remain a favorite spot for those that like to handicap the races in the winter months.
Graded Stakes at Aqueduct:
Cigar Mile Handicap
Wood Memorial Stakes
Go For Wand Handicap
Red Smith Handicap
Top Flight Handicap
Bay Shore Stakes
Bold Ruler Handicap
Fort Marcy Handicap
Long Island Handicap
Next Move Handicap
Queens County Handicap
Tom Fool Handicap
Turnback The Alarm Handicap
Valley Stream Stakes
Sport Page Handicap