Oaklawn Park has announced a 32-stakes program totaling $4.6 million for the 56-day meet that begins Jan. 14, 2011.
The Arkansas track, which touts the winners of four of the past six Triple Crown races, two recent Horse of the Year Award winners, and back-to-back Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) winners, projects total purses of more than $16.5 million during the meet. The minimum purse will begin at $15,200, and maiden and allowance races begin $36,000.
The track also announced that the purse for the grade II Oaklawn Handicap on April 9 had been reduced to $350,000 from $500,000.
"We don’t like reducing the purse of any of our stakes races," David Longinotti, assistant general manager of racing, said in a statement, "but this parallels what other tracks in the country have done in recent years. We thought that money could be better used elsewhere in the stakes program and in overnight purses."
Horses that ran in Oaklawn’s 3-year-old stakes program in 2010 included Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr,. I) winner Super Saver ; Preakness (gr. I) and IZOD Haskell Invitational (gr. I) winner Lookin At Lucky , and Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) winner Blind Luck. The previous year, Oaklawn’s sophomore program featured eventual Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra and champion 3-year-old male Summer Bird.
"We continue to be extremely pleased with the quality of our 3-year-old program,"said Longinotti. "We will make every effort to maintain that focus into 2011 and beyond. We are in better shape today because of the success of our Instant Racing and electronic gaming facilities, and racing fans in Arkansas have always responded to top quality racing."
Highlighting the 2011 season will be the traditional closing-day finale, the $1 million Arkansas Derby (gr. I) Saturday, April 16. Leading up to the Arkansas Derby are the $100,000 Smarty Jones Stakes on Monday, Jan. 17; the grade III $250,000 Southwest Stakes on Monday, Feb. 21; and the grade II $300,000 Rebel Stakes on Saturday, March 19.
Among the highlights of Oaklawn Park’s Racing Festival are the grade II $300,000 Fantasy Stakes, April 10; grade III $150,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap, April 14, grade I $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap, April 15; and the Arkansas Derby, April 16. Two other $75,000 stakes races share the card with the Arkansas Derby--the Northern Spur for 3-year-olds and the Instant Racing for 3-year-old fillies, both at one mile.
The stakes schedule also includes two new events restricted to Arkansas-bred runners--the male and female divisions of the $50,000 Arkansas Breeders’ Stakes, both of which are to be run at 1 1/16-miles for 3-year-olds and up.