KY Derby, Oaks Anchor Churchill Spring Meet
Photo: Skip Dickstein
Churchill Downs' 38-day spring meet is headlined by 26 stakes, 23 of which are graded, including the $2 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) and $1 million Longines Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) the first weekend in May.
The spring meet, set to run April 30 through July 2, will offer total stakes purses worth $8.25 million.
The meet is headlined by the Kentucky Derby, on Saturday, May 7, ono a card that features seven graded stakes races— three of them grade I events—with total stakes purses of $4.15 million. The Friday, May 6 program headed by the Kentucky Oaks, the nation's top race for 3-year-old fillies, includes a pair of grade I events among its six graded stakes and total stakes purses for the day of $2.2 million.
The 2016 spring meet stakes schedule includes seven racing days that will feature two or more stakes and the meet's total purses reflect an increase of $200,000 or 2.5% from the $8.05 million offered during the 2015 spring meet.
Important changes in the 2016 spring meet stakes schedule include a new name, distance, and placement for the $200,000 Wise Dan (gr. IIT), a 1 1/16-mile event on turf formerly known as the Firecracker. The Wise Dan is now part of the popular "Downs After Dark" program on Saturday, June 18 headed by the $500,000 Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I). The Wise Dan had previously been run during the closing weekend of the spring meet.
The Wise Dan is named in honor of Mort Fink's 2012 and 2013 Horse of the Year. 
"It means so much to us to have that race named to honor Wise Dan," said Charlie LoPresti, who trained the Wiseman's Ferry gelding. "He's been a great horse, and we've had so much fun with him and we're proud of him. I've often thought that someday somebody would name a race after him, and I'm glad that Churchill was the first to come up with it because he's won so many races there and is such a big part of Churchill Downs."
The other grade I events on the 2016 Derby Day stakes roster are the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at 1 1/8 miles and the $300,000 Humana Distaff, a seven-furlong race for fillies and mares age 4 and up. 
Other Derby Day stakes include the $500,000 Churchill Downs (gr. II), a seven-furlong main track race for 4-year-olds and up; the $300,000 Churchill Distaff Turf Mile Presented by Longines (gr. IIT) for fillies and mares age 4 and up at one mile on turf; the $300,000 American Turf Presented by Ram Trucks, a grade II race for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles on turf; and the $250,000 Pat Day Mile Presented by LG&E and KU, a grade III event for 3-year-olds at a mile known until last year as the Derby Trial. The latter is named in honor of Hall of Fame jockey Pat Day, the all-time win leader at Churchill Downs whose success beneath the Twin Spires included a triumph in the 1992 Kentucky Derby aboard W.C. Partee's Lil E. Tee.
Joining the main event on the Oaks Day roster of six stakes races are the $300,000 La Troienne (gr. I), a 1 1/16-mile race for fillies and mares age 4 and up; the $400,000 Alysheba (gr. II) for 4-year-olds and up at 1 1/16 miles; the $200,000 Eight Belles, a seven-furlong race for 3-year-old fillies that has been elevated to grade II status for its 2016 running; the $150,000 Twin Spires Turf Sprint (gr. IIIT) for 3-year-olds and up at five furlongs on turf; and the $150,000 Edgewood Presented by Forcht Bank, a 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-old fillies on turf that will be run as a grade III event for the first time.       
Restored to the Derby Week stakes schedule for the first time since 2010 is the $100,000 Kentucky Juvenile, a five-furlong test for 2-year-olds on Thursday, May 5.
With the addition of the Wise Dan, the Stephen Foster Handicap and "Downs After Dark" program on Saturday, June 18, Churchill will offer five graded stakes races with total purses of $1.1 million. 
For Churchill Downs' complete spring meet stakes schedule, click here.

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