The 73rd running of the $500,000 Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I) and the American Oaks, to be increased from $250,000 to $400,000, headline a stakes schedule worth more than $6.8 million for the 2012 spring/summer meet at Hollywood Park.
The 50-day season, featuring racing on a Thursday through Sunday regular schedule, begins April 26 and continues through July 15.
At 1 ¼ miles over Cushion Track, the Gold Cup will be run July 7. Last year's race was won a year ago by First Dude in thrilling fashion over stablemate Game On Dude and favored Twirling Candy. The Gold Cup will be part of a stakes doubleheader with the $150,000 Royal Heroine Mile (gr. IIT) for older fillies and mares on turf.
The American Oaks, which featured its first dead heat between Cambina and Nereid on its 10th anniversary in 2011, will be contested July 14. It is the last of seven grade I events during the meet.
An invitational for 3-year-old fillies at 1 ¼ miles on turf, the American Oaks anchors a program that also includes the $200,000 A Gleam Handicap (gr. II) for older females at seven furlongs and the $200,000 Landaluce Stakes for 2-year-old fillies at six furlongs.
The Landaluce is one of four stakes races for 2-year-olds that have increased purses. The Hollywood Juvenile Championship (gr. III), for 2-year-olds at six furlongs also on July 14, has been doubled to $200,000.
The Willard L. Proctor Memorial and Cinderella stakes have gone from $70,000-added to $100,000. The Proctor and Cinderella are scheduled for June 16.
“With the increase to $400,000, the American Oaks is one of the top races in the country for 3-year-old turf fillies and we believe it will attract a quality field,’’ said Martin Panza, Hollywood Park’s racing secretary and vice president for racing. “There’s no doubt 2-year-olds play an important role in the spring/summer meet, so the larger purses for the Willard Proctor, Cinderella, Landaluce, and Hollywood Juvenile Championship is a way to try and reward the owners and trainers that do participate during the season.’’
The $300,000 Shoemaker Mile (gr. IT) on turf will be run June 30, along with the $250,000 Triple Bend Handicap (gr. I) at seven furlongs.
For the first time, the Swaps Stakes (gr. II) will be offered on the 4th of July. The 1 1/8 mile race for 3-year-olds, which has a purse of $150,000, is the main attraction of the special Wednesday holiday card.
The opening weekend features Gold Rush XIII, the annual showcase for California-breds to be held April 28. The $300,000 Snow Chief Stakes, at 1 1/8 miles, and the $300,000 Melair Stakes are the main Gold Rush events. The Snow Chief, which is for 3-year-olds, was worth $150,000 in 2011 while the Melair, which is for 3-year-old fillies, had a $125,000 purse a year ago. The other notable Gold Rush stakes are the $125,000 B. Thoughtful and $125,000 Tiznow.
In addition to the simulcast of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), Hollywood's May 5 card will feature the $150,000 Mervyn LeRoy Handicap (gr. II), the $100,000 Senorita Stakes (gr. IIIT), and the $70,000-added Cool Frenchy Stakes. The LeRoy, a Grade II at 1 1/16 miles, is the first prep for the Gold Cup.
Along with the simulcast of the Belmont Stakes (gr. I), the primary race June 9 is the $250,000 Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap (gr. IT) at 1 ¼ miles on turf. There will be two other stakes that afternoon: the $150,000 Honeymoon Handicap (gr. IIT) and the $70,000-added Manhattan Beach.
The grade I Vanity, which has been won the last four years by either Zenyatta or Blind Luck, will be run June 16. The 1 1/8-mile test has a purse of $250,000.