Hollywood Park's $3.78-million stakes calendar for the 36-day Autumn Meet features an expanded schedule for 2-year-olds and the return of the Turf Festival, which will be carded over Thanksgiving weekend.The $1.75-million Turf Festival consists of six graded stakes on the Lakeside Turf Course, including three grade I events. The $400,000, grade I Citation Handicap will be carded along with the $100,000 Generous Stakes (gr. IIIT) on Friday, Nov. 24. The $150,000 Hollywood Turf Express and the $100,000 Miesque Stakes -- both grade III races -- share top billing on Saturday, Nov. 25. The Turf Festival finishes Sunday, Nov. 26, in dramatic fashion with two $500,000, Grade I races -- the Hollywood Derby and the Matriarch.The Turf Festival was canceled last year, along with all turf racing at Hollywood Park, because the track's newly planted course had failed to root properly.
The Autumn Meet is not only synonymous with turf racing, it is known for a strong 2-year-old program. It will be better than ever in 2006 as the schedule consists of a record eight stakes races for juveniles.
Most prominent are the $250,000 guaranteed Hollywood Futurity on Saturday, Dec. 16, and the $250,000 guaranteed Hollywood Starlet on Sunday, Dec. 17. Both are grade I events with estimated values of $400,000.The 2-year-old program begins opening weekend with the $100,000 Real Quiet Stakes on Saturday, Nov. 4, and the $100,000 Sharp Cat Stakes for fillies on Sunday, Nov. 5. Both races were inaugurated in 2005."Besides the attention the Turf Festival brings Hollywood Park on Thanksgiving Weekend, the focus of the fall meet will be on young horses," said Martin Panza, vice president of racing. "With the installation of the synthetic track we are confident of attracting more 2-year-olds. Keeping the Real Quiet and Sharp Cat gives us a total of eight stakes for 2-year-olds during the fall meet -- one sprinting and two long (for each sex) on the dirt, as well as the two Turf Festival races."The 25th running of the prestigious Hollywood Turf Cup is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 9. The $250,000, Grade I event for older horses at 1 ½ miles on the turf course annually attracts leading horses from across the country as it falls five weeks after the Breeders' Cup.The Autumn meet stakes schedule includes 22 stakes, split equally between the turf course and the main track. There are six grade I races, two grade II races and six grade III races. First race on the calendar is the $60,000-added Bien Bien on opening day -- Wednesday, Nov. 1. The meeting finishes Monday, Dec. 18, with the 24th running of the $150,000 Dahlia Handicap (gr. II).