Aqueduct Race Track
racetracks > Aqueduct
Main track (dirt): 1 1/8 mile oval
Inner dirt track: 1 mile oval
Turf: 7/8 mile 43 feet, oval
Aqueduct Winter Meet Information
Dates: November 1 - December 31
Aqueduct horse racing schedule: Aqueduct Racetrack generally will be open Wednesday through Sunday. The track will be closed on Christmas Day, Wednesday, December 25, and will conduct live racing on New Year's Eve, Tuesday, December
Post times: 12:20 p.m. ET daily with the exceptions on Thanksgiving Day and Friday and Saturday, November 29 and 30. Post time on Thanksgiving Day is 11:25 a.m. ET, with the first race going off at noon on Friday and Saturday, November 29 and 30.
Aqueduct Racing and Track History
Aqueduct, colloquially known as “The Big A,” has been a name associated with Thoroughbred racing in New York since the late 19th century. The original track by that name opened in 1894 and operated until 1955, when it was dismantled and rebuilt in close proximity to the old facility.
The current Aqueduct, located near John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, opened to great fanfare in the fall of 1959 and immediately became the most attended of the three New York Racing Association tracks.
Throughout the 1960s, daily average attendance and handle at Aqueduct were among the highest of any track in the country. Saturday afternoon crowds of 40,000-60,000 were common, with holiday programs often attracting larger throngs.
For five years, from 1963-67, Aqueduct hosted both its regular meetings and those of Belmont Park, which was reconstructed during that period. During this time all of the races associated with Belmont, including the Belmont Stakes, were contested at Aqueduct. Two Triple Crown attempts – Northern Dancer’s in 1964 and Kauai King’s in 1966 – were actually foiled at Aqueduct.
Since its reopening Aqueduct has both opened and closed the New York racing season. In the days of seasonal racing, Aqueduct typically opened the season in mid-March and closed it in early or mid-December. Brief meetings in July and September were also common.
By the mid-1970s racing in New York became a year-round affair, and Aqueduct became the home of wintertime racing. Racing is now held at the track in January, February, March, April, November, and December.
Except for the months of April and November, racing is held on the track’s winterized, one-mile inner dirt track, located inside the main nine-furlong dirt oval. The inner dirt was formerly the track’s main turf course. Turf racing is held, weather permitting, on a seven-furlong course inside the inner dirt.
Nearly every significant champion in the 1960s and early 1970s competed at least once at Aqueduct, including Hall of Fame performers Kelso, Buckpasser, Damascus, Dr. Fager, Secretariat, and Forego. Triple Crown hero Seattle Slew twice raced at Aqueduct, winning the 1977 Wood Memorial and 1978 Stuyvesant Handicap.
From the late 1970s onwards Aqueduct hosted fewer of the circuit’s major stakes, and thus the track no longer attracts the very best horses in training on a routine basis. The introduction of off-track-betting in the early 1970s also cut into the track’s attendance figures. Although the facility is still capable of holding crowds of 50,000 and upward, the track has not seen a turnout like that in decades.
Aqueduct hosted the second edition of the Breeders’ Cup in 1985 with a crowd of more than 42,000 on hand. It is unlikely that figure has been exceeded on any racing day in the interim, and paid attendance, even on their biggest days, struggles to reach five figures.
Most of the Aqueduct grandstand was converted into the Resorts World Casino in 2011 and much of the land that was the track’s massive parking lots have been sold for commercial development.
Aqueduct offers live racing over the three-day opening weekend, highlighted by Saturday's 70th running of the Grade 3, $200,000 Discovery Handicap for 3-year-olds and a pair of one-mile juvenile events on Sunday: the Grade 2, $250,000 Nashua and the Grade 3, $250,000 Tempted for fillies. The Discovery is the first of 11 graded stakes at the Big A through the end of 2013, including the Holidayfest highlight of the meet, the Grade 1, $500,000 Cigar Mile Handicap on Saturday, November 30.
Five other graded stakes round out the holiday racing action, which kicks off with the Grade 3, $300,000 Fall Highweight Handicap on Thanksgiving Day, November 28, and continues on Friday with the Grade 2, $300,000 Go for Wand Handicap. Joining the Cigar Mile on Saturday are the Grade 2, $400,000 Remsen for 2-year-olds; the Grade 2, $400,000 Demoiselle for 2-year-old fillies; and the Grade 3, $400,000 Comely for 3-year-old fillies.
The track itself has three courses. The Main Track, which is dirt, has a circumference of 1 1/8 miles; inside of this circuit is the one-mile Inner Dirt Track, consisting of a special type of dirt over which races are run during the winter; and the innermost course is a Turf (grass) course, spanning 7 furlongs plus 43 feet.
In 1941, a new clubhouse and track offices were built. In 1956, the track was torn down and after remodeling Aqueduct was re-opened in 1959. In 1975, the grass was uprooted and the Inner Dirt Track took its place as the permit circuit for year-round racing. From 1959-71, the track was idle from shortly before Christmas to March, until off-track betting began in New York City. In the fall of 2005, construction began on the Aqueduct grandstand, and resulted in the installation of a 4,500 video lottery terminal casino.
Aqueduct Racetrack has an impressive 17,000-person seating capacity, with a total capacity of 40,000. A courtesy shuttle bus service is available from all general areas of the parking lot that holds up to 8,000 cars. This track offers several amenities from a 1,200-seat fine-dining restaurant - where the recommended dress attire is elegant - to a children's playroom.
Past Aqueduct Meet Information