Yonkers, NY — Following a year in which the COVID-19 pandemic obliterated the stakes schedule at Yonkers Raceway, MGM Resorts has reinstated a full slate of Grand Circuit races for 2021, anchored by a pair of Triple Crown events occupying a new slot on the calendar.
Held in late August/early September the last few years, the $300,000 (gtd.) MGM Yonkers Trot and $300,000 (gtd.) MGM Grand Messenger Pace Stakes finals for 3-year-olds shift to July 2 on the calendar in 2021. Eliminations for both Triple Crown events will be conducted on June 25, along with filly counterpart races — Park MGM Pace and New York-New York Mile — that culminate with $125,000 (est.) finals on the first Friday in July.
The change in scheduling for the Yonkers Trot and Messenger coincides with a move of major stakes for 3-year-olds at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono from Fourth of July weekend to the end of August.
The races are now the first legs of the Triple Crown on both gaits.
“With all the setbacks and difficulty 2020 saw, we’re excited to get all of these important stakes races back onto the calendar for 2021,” said Alex Dadoyan, Director of Racing at Yonkers Raceway.
The popular MGM Borgata and Blue Chip Matchmaker Pacing Series are both back in their usual calendar locations for 2021, though Monday is the new Saturday at Yonkers, and the day when the best pacers on the grounds will compete.
The Borgata, for older male pacers, kicks off its first of five $40,000 (gtd.) legs on Monday (March 15). The Blue Chip Matchmaker also offers a handful of preliminary legs. Worth $35,000 (gtd.) each, the series launches on Friday (March 12).
The top eight point-earners in each series will convene on Monday (April 19) for a pair of six-figure added-money finals, with the subsequent eight earners in the series taking part in the $75,000 (gtd.–Borgata) and $60,000 (gtd.–Matchmaker) consolations.
Stakes season officially begins at Yonkers on Tuesday (March 2) with the M Life Ladies Pacing Series for 3- and 4-year-old fillies and mares. The male companion event starts one night later on Wednesday. Both events offer three legs with $15,000 (gtd.) purses and culminate with added-money finals and guaranteed consolations on March 23 and 24, respectively.
The John Brennan Trotting Series (formerly the SOA Bonus Trot), honoring the memory of the long-time Yonkers Raceway paddock representative, starts on March 31 with the first of three legs for 3-year-olds and up who are non-winners of six races and/or $100,000 lifetime through Feb. 1. An added-money final and $30,000 (gtd.) consolation are scheduled for Wednesday (April 21).
The Reynolds Pace for 3-year-old colts and fillies also joins the stakes calendar at Yonkers on May 7.
Finally, July 9 and 16 offer eliminations and the final of the $100,000 (est.) MGM Springfield Stakes for 2-year-olds.
Nomination blanks for the Borgata, Matchmaker, M Life, Brennan and Springfield series can be found here. Information on the Yonkers Trot and Messenger can be found on the Hambletonian Society’s website.
Yonkers Raceway offers live racing Monday through Friday with a first-race post-time of 7:15 p.m. For more information, click here.