Ten Things You Should Know: Woodward Stakes
By Kevin Martin, Hello Race Fans Contributing Editor
Originally published on August 30, 2012
1) The Woodward Stakes is a Grade 1 race for horses 3-years-old and up at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York. It is currently run at a distance of 1 1/8 miles on the dirt.
2) A traditional September stakes race in New York, it was run for the first time at Belmont in 1954. It moved to Aqueduct during the renovation of Belmont for most of the 1960s. It returned to Belmont in 1968 and remained there until it relocated to its present location at Saratoga in 2006.
3) The race is named for William Woodward, who was chairman of The Jockey Club from 1930 to 1950. As the head of Belair Stud, an historic Maryland breeding and racing operation, Woodward won over 600 races. Woodward’s Belair bred and owned a number of champions including two American Triple Crown winners: Gallant Fox (1930) and Omaha (1935).
4) The Woodward is a race that seen a fair share of monumental upsets, the most well-known of which is Prove Out’s victory over Secretariat in 1973. Other future Hall of Famers were also beaten by lesser lights in the Woodward, including Nashua (1956), Gallant Man and Bold Ruler (1957), Kelso (1964), Damascus (1968), and Tiznow (2001).
5) The 1967 Woodward Stakes is considered among the best races of the 20th century with the showdown between Damascus, Buckpasser, and Dr. Fager. Damascus and Dr. Fager were both 3-year-olds and Buckpasser, the 1966 Horse of the Year, was a year older. Damascus won by 10 lengths and would win the 1967 Horse of the Year. Dr. Fager would win the same award in 1968.
6) The great Forego won a record four straight editions of the Woodward from 1974 to 1977. Kelso would share the record with Forego if he had not been beaten by Gun Bow in the 1964 Woodward after three straight wins from 1961 to 1963.
7) Spectacular Bid won the Woodward unopposed in a walkover in 1980. It was the final race in the superb career of the future Hall of Famer.
8) The first filly to win the Woodward Stakes was Rachel Alexandra in 2009. Just two years later, another filly, Havre de Grace, won the Woodward. They both won the Eclipse Award for Horse of the Year.
9) Since 2003, six eventual Horses of the Year won the Woodward during their championship campaign (Mineshaft, Ghostzapper, Saint Liam, Curlin, Rachel Alexandra, and Havre de Grace). A Horse of the Year has won the Woodward 26 times since its first running in 1954.
10) From 1981 to 1985, jockey Angel Cordero, Jr. won five straight editions of the race on four different horses (he won back-to-back editions in 1983-84 aboard Slew o’ Gold). He also won in 1978 on Seattle Slew. He is tied for the most Woodward wins by a jockey with Jerry Bailey, who won six in a period from 1992 to 2005.