INGLEWOOD, Calif. – The $700,000 Hollywood Gold Cup and the $700,000 American Oaks anchor an $8-million stakes schedule for Hollywood Park’s 65-day Spring/Summer Meet, which opens Wednesday, April 22.
The stakes schedule was revamped due to the sagging economy with the intent of protecting the overall quality of racing.
“We thought the best course of action was to do as much as we could for overnight purses,” said Martin Panza, vice president of racing. “The deductions will help keep overnight purses at or near their 2008 levels.”
The Hollywood Park stakes schedule, reduced by $1.5 million from 2008, will not include three graded races — the Jim Murray Memorial Handicap, the Hawthorne Handicap and the Will Rogers Stakes. In addition, the CashCall Mile will be run as the Royal Heroine Mile with a $250,000 purse, a $500,000 decrease.
“We’re very pleased that CashCall, through owner Paul Reddam, was a sponsor and that they remain with us for the CashCall Futurity,” Panza said. “We hope the CashCall Mile will be coming back to Hollywood Park in the future. We’re very disappointed that it was not given Grade I status, a point that is hard to explain to our sponsor. It is unfortunate that Japanese Grade I winners are not taken into account by the graded stakes committee.”
The eighth running of the American Oaks is scheduled for Sunday, July 5, along with the $300,000 Triple Bend Handicap. Both are Grade I events. The Hollywood Gold Cup, also a Grade I race, will be run for the 70th time on Saturday, July 11 — same day as the Grade II Royal Heroine Mile. While the Gold Cup and American Oaks remain the richest races on the calendar, they have each been cut by $50,000.
There are 49 races on the stakes schedule, including seven Grade I events. There are ten Grade II races and 11 Grade III races. There will be seven days with multiple stakes races, beginning with the $1.3-million Gold Rush X on Saturday, April 25. The $250,000 Snow Chief Stakes is the feature event on Gold Rush Day, but it has strong support in the $200,000 Melair and four $150,000 races — the TVG Khaled, Fran’s Valentine, B. Thoughtful and Tiznow.
First Grade I race on the schedule is the $250,000-added Shoemaker Mile on Memorial Day — Monday, May 25. The Shoemaker, first run as the Premiere Handicap on Hollywood Park’s inaugural opening day on June 10, 1938, will be contested for the 66th time.
The prestigious $300,000 Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap will be run on Saturday, June 6 — Belmont Day. The Grade I event will be accompanied by the Grade III, $100,000 Ack Ack Handicap and the $70,000-added Redondo Beach Stakes. The $250,000 Californian, last major stepping-stone to the Hollywood Gold Cup, will be run on Saturday, June 13. The Grade III, $100,000 Round Table Handicap will also be part of the program.
Hollywood Park’s two major races for 2-year-olds will be run on the same day with the $100,000 Hollywood Juvenile Championship and $100,000 Landaluce scheduled for Sunday, July 12.
Closing weekend will feature the $300,000 Swaps Stakes and $150,000 A Gleam Handicap on Saturday, July 18, with the Sunset Handicap on Sunday, July 19. The deletion of the three graded races will be reviewed in 2010.
“For this year, only, they are discontinued,” Panza said. “Under the guidelines of the graded stakes committee, as long as we run them again next year, we’re allowed to keep the grades. It would probably be our intent to re-establish those races, but we will have to wait and see if the economy improves.”
The stakes schedule can be downloaded here
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