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Northfield Stakes To Invite-Only

Published: January 31, 2019 7:35 pm ET

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As the time for stakes nominations for 2019 nears, Northfield Park reminds the connections of top Open pacers, Open trotters and three-year-old pacers that the track’s richest three Grand Circuit events in 2019 will all be 'by-invitation-only.'

The $200,000 Battle of Lake Erie (Open Pace) on June 8, the $175,000 Cleveland Trotting Classic (Open Trot) on June 29 and the $400,000 Carl Milstein Memorial (three-year-old pace) on Aug. 10 will all be Invitationals with no nomination or starting fees for the participants.

Northfield’s Executive Vice President of Racing Dave Bianconi adopted the change for this year’s Battle and Trotting Classic (the Milstein Memorial has already been an Invitational for the past few seasons) with the following reasoning.

“I simply think that Invitationals are the way that Northfield can attract the best eight horses for each of these great events. When you are handcuffed with only the horses that paid into your stakes races as possible starters, you can often miss a late-bloomer who gets hot leading up to your race. And it isn’t uncommon for connections of good horses to miss a payment deadline early in the year and then find themselves on the outside looking in come race time.

“Also, with state-bred Sires Stakes programs across the country so economical to enter and so lucrative to participate in, it has become more difficult to get young horses to stake to numerous Grand Circuit events. That led to the change when the Carl Milstein Memorial became an Invitational, and we have had some great fields for that race since the change. I want that same flexibility for our Open events (The Battle of Lake Erie and Cleveland Trotting Classic).”

While Northfield will be actively recruiting the top horses for these races as the year goes on, Bianconi encourages the connections of horses that are interested in participating to reach out to him as well.

“I’d love to hear from owners or trainers who think their horse would fit in well in any of our big events. I like to invite horses from different circuits across North America to meet here at Northfield, which is an easy ship from just about anywhere. Please feel free to email me at [email protected] or call me in the race office at (330) 467-4101 ext. 2300.”

Northfield’s feature event for three-year-old pacing fillies, the $125,000 Courageous Lady on Oct. 12, will remain a stakes event overseen by the Hambletonian Society.

“The Courageous Lady is late in the year after everyone’s Sires Stakes have been completed, so it has been successful as a paid-in event. I’m leaving it alone for now,” explained Bianconi.

(Northfield Park)

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