Churchill Downs has unveiled a $9.025 million stakes schedule for its 2010 Spring and Fall racing meets in 2010, highlighted by six grade I events. The stakes schedule includes minor changes in light of the Breeders’ Cup World Thoroughbred Championships. In addition, several races have undergone changes, most notably the return of the La Troienne Stakes.
The 2010 Churchill Downs stakes schedule includes 40 races, all but one of which are graded. The stakes schedule is headed by the 136th renewals of the $2 million-guaranteed Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands, the $500,000-added Kentucky Oaks, and the $500,000-added Clark Handicap among its six grade I offerings
Stakes purses for the track’s 42-day Spring meet that runs from April 24 to July 4 total $7.1 million. A total of $1.925 million will be offered in stakes during the Fall meet that runs from Oct. 31 to Nov. 27. The 2010 stakes schedule features six grade I events, not including Breeders’ Cup World Championship races, which will be hosted at Churchill Downs this year. Three of those grade I events are scheduled for Kentucky Derby day on Saturday, May 1: The Kentucky Derby, the $500,000-added Woodford Reserve Turf Classic, and the $300,000-added Humana Distaff.
The $500,000-added Kentucky Oaks on Friday, April 30, and the $600,000-added Stephen Foster Handicap on Saturday, June 12 are the other grade I events to be contested at Churchill Downs this year. The American Graded Stakes Committee restored the Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare to grade I status this year for the first time since 2006. Along with the six grade I events, the track will offer 12 grade II races and 21 grade III races.
The Kentucky Derby, Kentucky Oaks, and Stephen Foster Handicap, respectively, head three special event days that consist of five or more stakes races with total purses in excess of $1 million. The biggest of those days is Kentucky Derby Day, which includes six stakes races with total purses of $3.35 million. Kentucky Oaks Day features six stakes races with total purses of $1.325 million. The five stakes races set for Stephen Foster Handicap Day carry total purses of $1.15 million.
Opening and closing days of the Fall meet will feature Churchill Downs’ popular “Stars of Tomorrow” programs devoted exclusively to 2-year-olds. The year 2010 marks the return of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships to the historic Louisville track for a record seventh time, and for the first time as a two-day event, on Nov. 5-6.
One Churchill Downs stakes race is scheduled daily over Breeders’ Cup weekend, Thursday, Nov. 4 through Sunday, Nov. 7. The four Churchill Downs stakes races scheduled to support the November 5-6 Breeders’ Cup World Championships includes the $100,000-added River City Handicap (gr.III) on Thursday, Nov. 4; the Ack Ack Handicap on Friday, Nov. 5; the $150,000-added Chilukki (gr.II) on Saturday, Nov. 6, and the $100,000-added Cardinal (gr.III) on Sunday, Nov. 7.
“Our goal every year is to provide our fans and horsemen with a high quality stakes schedule that offers compelling and competitive opportunities for horses in every division,” said Don Richardson, Senior Vice President of Racing at Churchill Downs. “We believe the 2010 stakes schedule at Churchill Downs – topped by the historic 136th renewals of the Kentucky Derby, Kentucky Oaks and Clark Handicap among its six grade I offerings – is one of our strongest schedules ever, with all but one race having achieved recognition as a graded race from the American Graded Stakes Committee.
"It is going to be an exciting year with the return of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships and six racing sessions scheduled under our new permanent lights, and we look forward to working with owners and trainers throughout North America in an effort to bring their most talented horses to Churchill Downs to compete in the stakes races that will be run beneath the Twin Spires.”
Several races on the 2010 schedule have undergone name, purse or distance changes – including significant changes for the final Kentucky Derby prep race and the return of the name of the great mare La Troienne to the schedule. The original La Troienne stakes was renamed in honor of the late Eight Belles in 2009. This year, the Louisville Stakes (gr.II), 1 1/16 mile contest for fillies and mares three years old and up, will be named the La Troienne in order to preserve the names of one of the great American broodmares. Other changes include:
--The $200,000-added The Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial (gr.III) on Saturday, April 24. The last of the year’s Kentucky Derby prep races is traditionally the first stakes race of the year and prominent Thoroughbred owner/breeder Robert LaPenta will sponsor the race that now also carries the name of one of his most accomplished horses, The Cliff's Edge.
--The $100,000-added Churchill Downs Turf Sprint (gr.III) on Friday, April 30 is getting a name change. It was most recently known as the AEGON Turf Sprint.
--Purse increases from 2009 include the addition of $100,000 to the Clark Handicap, which is again a $500,000-added event, and the purse for the Pocahontas on Sunday, October 31, which received a $50,000 boost to $150,000-added after the American Graded Stakes Committee granted it Grade II status. Other races scheduled for purse hikes in 2010 include the American Turf, which is now a Grade II event with a purse of $175,000-added; the Firecracker Handicap (gr.II), up to $175,000-added; the Northern Dancer (gr.III), with a purse of $125,000-added; and the $125,000-added Early Times Mint Julep (gr.III).
--Races with reduced purses for 2009 include the $100,000-added Jefferson Cup, which carried a $150,000-added purse in 2009. The race is now a grade III event, down from grade II status a year ago, and will be run at a new distance of 1 1/16 miles on turf. Also reduced by $25,000 is the $125,000-added Regret (gr.III).
--The $100,000-added Ack Ack Handicap (gr.III) will be run at a new distance of 1 1/16 miles. The race had been previously run at one mile or 7 1/2 furlongs.
--Going on hiatus is the $100,000-added Edgewood, a 1 1/16 mile turf race for 3-year-old fillies that had been run on Kentucky Oaks Day.