Ten Things You Should Know: Hopeful Stakes
By Kevin Martin, Hello Race Fans Contributing Editor
1) The Hopeful Stakes is a Grade race restricted to 2-year-olds held at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York.
2) The Hopeful was originally run at 6-furlongs, was extended to 6 1/2-furlongs in 1925, and was changed to its current distance of 7-furlongs in 1994.
3) The race has been run every year at Saratoga since its founding in 1903, with the exception of 1911 and 1912 – when all racing was banned in the state of New York – and 1943 to 1945 – when the race was held at Belmont Park.
4) The name of the race is unique among stakes races. While most are named for people, places, and horses, the Hopeful is named for an attitude or an outlook. The race is believed to be named for the human connections involved who are all “hopeful” they have a 2-year-old that will become a future champion.
5) In 1904, the filly Tanya won the Hopeful. As a 3-year-old, she won the first Belmont Stakes ever run at Belmont Park.
6) In 1914, the filly Regret won the Hopeful in addition to the Sanford and Saratoga Special — the two other major stakes for 2-year-olds at Saratoga. In 1915, she would be the first filly to win the Kentucky Derby.
7) In 1919, Man o’ War won the Hopeful in addition to two other stakes races for 2-year-olds at Saratoga. But his most remembered race that summer is the one he lost. The only loss of his career came in the Sanford Stakes, two races before he won the Hopeful.
8) Afleet Alex was the last 3-year-old classic winner to also win the Hopeful. Afleet Alex won the Hopeful in 2004 and went on to win the Preakness and Belmont Stakes in 2005. In 2009, Afleet Alex’s son, Dublin, won the Hopeful.
9) Affirmed is the last winner of the Hopeful to win the Kentucky Derby the following year. Affirmed is one of three Triple Crown winners to win the Hopeful (Secretariat in 1972 and Whirlaway in 1940 are the others).
10) In 2012, Shanghai Bobby became the first colt since Favorite Trick in 1997 to win both the Hopeful and the Eclipse Award for Champion 2-year-old.