A Guide to Aqueduct Racetrack

Aqueduct Racetrack is the only thoroughbred horse racing facility in New York City, USA. Also known as Big A, the racecourse is located in the districts of Jamaica and South Ozone Park in Queens, NY.

Over the years, the Aqueduct Racetrack has been home to some of the most noteworthy racing moments. Who can forget the only triple-dead heat in the history of stake races when Wait a Bit, Bossuet and Brownie hit the finishing line together in 1944?

The track has been home to some of the most legendary runners in horse racing history. It is where Cigar won the first two races of his sixteen races winning streak. The Grade I Hill n Dale Cigar Mile is named after the famous runner. It is also where the Champion Racehorse Secretariat was paraded for the last time when he retired from racing in November 1973.

Here is a brief insight into the history and physical features of the Aqueduct Racetrack.

Aqueduct Racetrack History

queduct Racetrack officially opened on 27th Sept 1894. The land where it was established previously belonged to the old Brooklyn Water Works. The facility was home to a channel that carried water for New York City from Long Island and brought it to the Ridgewood Reservoir. It was named so after the Ridgewood Aqueduct.

The New York Racing Association acquired the Aqueduct Racetrack, among other facilities, including Jamaica Racecourse, Belmont Park and Saratoga Racecourse. The association decided to renovate Aqueduct and close Jamaica Racetrack. The Big A was closed for renovations in 1956, and after a renovation investment of $33 million, it opened in September 1959.

The renovation included the addition of racing strips, a grandstand, various accessory buildings and barns. It soon became popular as one of the most modern facilities of its time. The Belmont Park underwent renovations from 1963 to 1968, and during that time, the Belmont Stakes were held at the Aqueduct Racecourse, adding to its popularity. Aqueduct also hosted the second Breeders Cup in November 1985.

In 2007, when the New York Racing Association’s lease expired, it was considered briefly that the Aqueduct Racetrack be shut down. However, Audrey I. Pheffer, a member of the State Assembly, intervened and fought to preserve the racecourse. A new agreement was drawn with the New York Racing Association, and the Aqueduct continued its operations.

Aqueduct Racetrack Facilities

Aqueduct Racetrack is spread out over an area of 210 acres. Its stables can accommodate up to 400 horses.

The racecourse opened its one-mile inner track (dirt) in 1975. Previously this course was turf and was known as the Main Turf Course. The present turf course was known as the inner turf course. However, when the racing season was over in 1975, the main turf course was displaced, and a dirt track was installed in its place.

A dirt track was added to facilitate the conduction of racing events throughout the year. Since the turf course was unsuitable for winter racing, the dirt track was intended to solve the problem. Previously, the racecourse would stay idle during the winters from November to April. After 1971, the duration of the idle period had been reduced from before Christmas till March to facilitate off-track betting, which had begun in New York around that time.

Aqueduct Racetrack also features Equestris, one of the largest restaurants in New York City, which opened in October 1981. Further renovations were carried out at the racecourse between 1985 and 1989, and more features were added to the racecourse to improve the quality of racing and the overall facilities available. These included expansion of the grandstand, the paddock and the backyard. A weather-insulated paddock was installed for winter racing, and a mini-theatre was also constructed during that time. Further renovations were made to the track in 2001, 2006 and 2007.

In 2010, Aqueduct Racetrack underwent the biggest renovation of its time. The year marked the construction of Resorts World New York, a multi-level casino which would occupy an area of 415,000 square feet. Genting New York LLC operates the casino. The facility features more than 4,500 video lottery terminals (VLTs) and occupies two floors of the previous grandstand facility.

How long is the racing season at Aqueduct Racecourse?

Presently, the Aqueduct Racecourse season commences on the last Wednesday in October and ends on the first Sunday in May.

Major Races & Events At Aqueduct Racetrack

Aqueduct Racecourse is home to various Group 1 and Group 2 races. Some of the most notable Group 1 races include the Wood Memorial Stakes, Cigar Mile Handicap, the Carter Handicap, Group 2 Gazelle Stakes and Group 3 Gotham Stakes.

How to get to Aqueduct Racetrack

Aqueduct Racetrack has its own station at the New York city subway. The station has one platform on the Brooklyn side. So, if you are southbound, you will need to transfer to the train at the Aqueduct North Conduit Avenue station, which is northbound.

A free shuttle service takes travellers from the north station to the clubhouse entrance.

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