The Remsen Stakes is a Grade II race run annually near the end of November at Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, NY. The 1 1⁄8 mile race (9 furlongs) is open to two-year-olds and currently offers a purse of $300,000.
The Remsen has a long history dating back to 1904 and was relocated to Aqueduct in 1959. The race is one of the last prominent graded stakes for two-year-olds on the New York racing circuit for the racing year. Between 1959 and 1994, seven Remsen winners went on to win Triple Crown Classic races for their three-year-old season: Carry Back, Damascus, Go For Gin, Northern Dancer, Pine Bluff, Pleasant Colony and Thunder Gulch.
Since 1995, no Remsen winner has gone on to win a Classic race, but 2005 winner Bluegrass Cat came closest when he finished 2nd in the Kentucky Derby.
Since 2013, the Remsen has been a part of the ‘Road to the Kentucky Derby’, and the race awards Derby qualifying points to the top-4 finishers (10-4-2-1).
The last Remsen winner to complete the double in the Remsen and Kentucky Derby was Thunder Gulch, who also won the Belmont Stakes, narrowly missing the triple crown with a 3rd place finish in the 1994 Preakness. Go For Gin (1993) also won the Remsen and Derby, and finished 2nd in both the Preakness and Belmont Stakes.
In 1977, Believe It set the Remsen Stakes track record with a time of 1:47.80. He beat the great Alydar by two lengths. Believe It went on to finish 3rd in the Kentucky Derby behind winner Affirmed and runner-up Alydar, and then ran 3rd again in the Preakness. Believe It rider Eddie Maple won the Remsen a record four times.
Other notable Remsen winners include Coronado’s Quest, who won the Travers and Court Vision, who went on to win the Breeders’ Cup Mile. Remsen winners To Honor and Serve along with Honor Code both won the Woodward Stakes, and Overanalyze won the Arkansas Derby. Remsen champion Java Gold was one of six juveniles since the 1977 record-setting performance to win the Remsen in a time under 1:50.00. Java Gold skipped the Triple Crown races in 1986 and then won three straight Grade 1’s – the Whitney, Travers and Marlboro Cup.