Stakes Schedule Set for Churchill September
The stakes schedule for the Churchill Downs September meet will feature a pair of 2-year-old races moved from the fall meet schedule and a new race for older horses that could serve as a prep for the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I).
The first September meet in the 139-year history of Churchill Downs will offer 12 days of racing and will feature eight stakes races with total purses of nearly $1 million.
The inaugural schedule is headed by a pair of important stakes for 2-year-olds: the $150,000 Pocahontas (gr. II) and the $150,000 Iroquois (gr. III), and a new stakes race for older horses designed as a prep for important year-end races such as the Breeders' Cup or the Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare (gr. I). The Clark is run at Churchill in late November.
The first Homecoming meet at Churchill will open Sept. 6 and continue through Sept. 29. Racing will be conducted on a Friday-through-Sunday schedule during each of its four weeks, with "Downs After Dark" night racing celebrations scheduled for Sept. 7 and Sept. 28.
The $175,000 Homecoming Classic, a 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds and up on the main track, is the only new event on the meet's inaugural schedule of stakes races with total purses of $975,000. It is one of two stakes contests set for the meet's second "Downs After Dark" program Sept. 28. The seven remaining events on the September meet's stakes schedule have previously been run during either its spring or fall meets.
Previously, September racing in Kentucky was conducted at Turfway Park.
"Our Churchill Downs team is looking forward to the new Homecoming meet and the opportunity to offer new racing and entertainment opportunities to fans, families, businesses, and horsemen during a time of year in which the weather is usually the best our region offers," said Churchill racetrack president Kevin Flanery. "Racing Secretary Ben Huffman has worked to fashion a schedule of compelling stakes events and an attractive roster of daily racing opportunities that provide owners and trainers with a wide range of competitive options for their horses."
The Homecoming meet's opening weekend "Downs After Dark" celebration Sept. 7 will feature four stakes events topped by the Pocahontas for 2-year-old fillies, and the Iroquois for 2-year-olds. Both races are Breeders' Cup "Win and You're In" Challenge events and the winners of the Pocahontas and Iroquois will earn starting spots in the respective fields for the $2 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) and the $2 million Juvenile (gr. I) in early November at Santa Anita.
Both the Pocahontas and the Iroquois were transferred from positions in the Churchill Downs fall meet to the new Homecoming session. The distance of each race has been increased from one mile to 1 1/16 miles and the purse of the Iroquois was increased by $50,000.
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