Hollywood Park, in an effort to protect overnight purses, has responded to the declining economy by shuffling its stakes calendar for the 60-day spring/summer meet, which opens Wednesday, April 21.
The $5.8-million stakes schedule, which includes seven grade I races and 28 graded races overall, is highlighted by the 71st running of the $500,000 Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I) on Saturday, July 10. The $250,000 Triple Bend Handicap (gr. I) also will be run that day.
The Jim Murray Memorial Handicap and the Will Rogers Handicap will return to the calendar, while the Ack Ack, Cinema, Gallant Man, Flawlessly, Khaled, and Round Table will be placed in hiatus for 2010.
“We’ve made these changes in an effort to keep overnight purses as high as possible as we cope with the struggling economy,” said Martin Panza, vice president-racing. “We’ve got to put as much money in overnight purses as possible to aid horsemen in these tough economic times.”
The ninth running of the $250,000 American Oaks (gr. IT) is scheduled for Saturday, July 3, along with the $150,000 Royal Heroine Mile (gr. IIT). There will be five stakes contested over the Fourth of July weekend with the $150,000 American Handicap (gr. IIT) scheduled for July 4 and the $100,000 Hollywood Juvenile Championship (gr. III) for a special Monday program on July 5.
The Hollywood Gold Cup and American Oaks programs are among seven multiple stakes days at the meeting, beginning with Gold Rush XI on Saturday, April 24. The $200,000 Snow Chief Stakes is the feature race, but has significant company in the $150,000 Melair, $125,000 B. Thoughtful, and the $125,000 Tiznow.
The $250,000-added Shoemaker Mile (gr. IT) will be run on Memorial Day, Monday, May 31, along with the Honeymoon Handicap (gr. IIT) and the $60,000-added Willard L. Proctor Memorial Stakes. The Shoemaker, first run as the Premiere Handicap on Hollywood Park’s inaugural opening day on June 10, 1938, will be contested for the 66th time.
In keeping with recent tradition, the $250,000 Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap (gr. IT) will be run on Saturday, June 5, Belmont Stakes Day. The Whittingham will be accompanied by the $100,000 Los Angeles Handicap (gr. III) and the $60,000-added Redondo Beach Stakes.
The $150,000 Californian (gr. II), last major stepping stone to the Hollywood Gold Cup, will be run on Saturday, June 12, along with the $60,000-added Desert Stormer Handicap.
Closing weekend will feature the $200,000 Swaps Stakes (gr. II) and $150,000 A Gleam Handicap (gr. II) on Saturday, July 17, with the $100,000 Sunset Handicap (gr. IIIT) on Sunday, July 18.
The $150,000 Milady Handicap (gr. II) and the $250,000 Vanity Handicap (gr. I), races two-time champion Zenyatta swept the past two years, will be contested on Sunday, May 16, and Sunday, June 13, respectively.
The stakes schedule begins with the $60,000-added Harry Henson Stakes on April 21.