The Woodward Stakes is an American Grade I stakes race and is one of the premier races for older thoroughbred horses in the United States. Named for prominent racehorse owner, William Woodward, it is run at 1 1⁄8 miles (1,800 m) on the dirt for a current purse of $750,000.
|Grade I race|
|Location||Saratoga Race Course|
Saratoga Springs, New York, United States
|Race type||Thoroughbred - Flat racing|
|Distance||1 1⁄8 miles (9 furlongs)|
|Qualification||Three-year-olds and up|
The race was first run in 1954 at Aqueduct Racetrack and then at Belmont Park in late September. In 2006, the Woodward was moved to Saratoga Race Course for its 53rd running and is now run on the Saturday of the Labour Day weekend.
The Woodward was run as a handicap in 1954, 1955, and in 1976 and 1977. From 1957 through 1975 it was a weight-for-age event, and was run as an allowance stakes from 1977 through 1987. The race returned to being a handicap event in 1988, 1989, and 1990 then reverted to a weight-for-age race in 1991. In 2014, it was changed to allowance weights, meaning horses that do not meet certain conditions carry less weight.
Since its inception, the Woodward Stakes has been run at a variety of distances:
- 1 mile - 1954
- 1 1⁄8 miles - 1955, 1976–1977, 1981–1987, 1990 to present
- 1 1⁄4 miles - 1956-1971, 1978–1980, 1988–1989
- 1 1⁄2 miles - 1972-1975
The Woodward has long been one of America's most prestigious stakes races on the East Coast, along with the Jockey Club Gold Cup. Both races currently serve as major preps for the Breeders' Cup Classic. The Woodward has been won by many horses who were subsequently named the American Horse of the Year and twenty winners of the race were eventually inducted into the Hall of Fame: Sword Dancer, Kelso, Gun Bow, Buckpasser, Damascus, Arts and Letters, Forego, Seattle Slew, Affirmed, Spectacular Bid, Slew o’ Gold, Precisionist, Alysheba, Easy Goer, Holy Bull, Cigar, Skip Away, Ghostzapper, Curlin and Rachel Alexandra.
Kelso, the only five-time Horse of the Year in American history, won three consecutive renewals of the race between 1961 and 1963. In the 1964 renewal, he faced the talented Gun Bow, who had already beaten Kelso once that year. The two battled the entire length of the stretch and were separated at the wire by less than an inch: Gun Bow won by the bob of his head.
In 1973, Secretariat lost the Woodward to Prove Out, who set a stakes record for the then-current distance of 1 1⁄2 miles. The next year, Forego began a four-year win streak. Triple Crown winners Seattle Slew and Affirmed also won the race during the 1970s.
In 2009 at age three, Rachel Alexandra became the first female to win the Woodward. It was also her first race against older males. Only one other 3-year-old filly had ever run in the Woodward: Summer Guest in 1972. She finished second to Key to the Mint before being disqualified and placed third. In 2011 Havre De Grace, a 4 year old filly, became the 2nd female to win the Woodward.
- 1:45.80 for 1 1⁄8 miles - Forego (1976) and Dispersal (1990)
- 1:59.40 for 1 1⁄4 miles - Alysheba (1988)
- 2:25.80 for 1 1⁄2 miles - Prove Out (1973)
- 4 - Forego (1974, 1975, 1976, 1977)
Most wins by an owner:
- 4 - Lazy F Ranch
Most wins by a jockey:
Most wins by a trainer:
Winners of the Woodward StakesEdit
- A ‡ designates that this is a filly or mare that won the race.
- † Cougar II finished first, but was disqualified and placed third.
- "Woodward Stakes Profile". www.equibase.com. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
- "Woodward result leaves some players jaded, raises weighty issues". www.twinspires.com. Retrieved 6 September 2016.
- "William Woodward, Sr.: A true sportsman". Troy Record. Retrieved 6 September 2016.
- "Kelso: Five Time Horse of the Year". www.spiletta.com. Retrieved 6 September 2016.