Churchill Makes Deep Cut in Fall Stakes

Churchill Makes Deep Cut in Fall Stakes
Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt
Blaming a decline in purse money earned from wagering sources during its 2008 spring meet, Churchill Downs Racetrack has slashed its stakes program for the upcoming fall meet by $975,000 through purse reductions in 11 stakes races and the elimination of two others.

Churchill Downs’ 26-day autumn stand is scheduled to open Oct. 26, for a five-week run through Nov. 29.

According to a statement from the track, the reduction was due to wagering handle that was lost when the Kentucky Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association and the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association blocked distribution of Churchill Downs’ simulcast signal to all national advance deposit wagering sites, including TwinSpires.com., the official ADW site for Churchill Downs Incorporated.

“To offset the amount of lost wagering handle during our spring meet resulting in less money available in the purse account for races, we need to reduce our fall stakes program,” said Churchill Downs President Steve Sexton. “Negotiations with Kentucky horsemen are ongoing and we remain hopeful this impasse can be resolved.”

Five races were lowered in value by $100,000: the Oct. 26 Ack Ack Handicap (gr. III) from $200,000 to $100,000; the Nov. 22 River City Handicap (gr. IIIT) from $200,000 to $100,000; the Nov. 27 Falls City Handicap (gr. II) from $300,000 to $200,000; and closing day’s Kentucky Jockey Club (gr. II) and Golden Rod (gr. II) from $250,000 to $150,000 each.

Four grade III events received a $50,000 cutback from $150,000 to $100,000: the Iroquois and Pocahontas on Nov. 1; the Commonwealth Turf on Nov. 9; and the Cardinal Handicap on Nov. 15.

Additionally, the Nov. 2 Chilukki (gr. II) was lowered from $200,000 to $150,000, and the Nov. 8 Mrs. Revere (gr. IIT) was reduced from $200,000 to $175,000.

The two canceled stakes were a pair of ungraded $100,000 five-furlong turf sprints: the Nov. 8 Mariah’s Storm for fillies and mares and the Nov. 16 Cherokee Run.

The lone unaffected stakes race was the fall meet’s signature event, the $500,000 Clark Handicap (gr. II) for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles on dirt scheduled for Nov. 28.

All told, the 2008 fall meet will now feature 12 stakes events – all graded – cumulatively worth $1,925,000.

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