In what could be—or not—its last spring/summer meet, Hollywood Park has scheduled $8 million in stakes, down $1.5 million from the comparable meet in 2008, in an effort to preserve overnight purses, officials said.
The $700,000 Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I) and $700,000 American Oaks (gr. IT) highlight the 65-day meet that begins April 22. Three graded stakes—the Jim Murray Memorial Handicap (gr. IIT), Hawthorne Handicap (gr. III), and Will Rogers Stakes (gr. IIIT) have been removed from the schedule.
The $750,000 CashCall Mile (gr. II) will be run as the Royal Heroine Mile with a $250,000 purse.
Track officials said the stakes schedule was “revamped due to the sagging economy” with the intent of protecting overall quality of racing.
“We thought the best course of action was to do as much as we could for overnight purses,” Hollywood Park vice president of racing Martin Panza said in a statement. “The deductions will help keep overnight purses at or near their 2008 levels.”
For a 60-day meet in 2008, purses averaged $447,333 per day, including stakes. Total purses paid during the meet came in at $26.8 million, according to The Jockey Club Information Systems.
Panza said CashCall, through owner J. Paul Reddam will remain a sponsor of the CashCall Futurity during the fall meet.
“We hope the CashCall Mile will be coming back to Hollywood Park in the future,” Panza said. “We’re very disappointed that it was not given grade I status, a point that is hard to explain to our sponsor. It is unfortunate that Japanese grade I winners are not taken into account by the graded stakes committee.”
The American Oaks and $300,000 Triple Bend Stakes (gr. I) are set for July 5. The Gold Cup will be run July 11 along with the grade II Royal Heroine Mile. While the Gold Cup and American Oaks remain the richest races on the calendar, they have each been cut by $50,000.
There are 49 races on the stakes schedule, including six grade I events. There are 10 grade II races and 11 grade III races, officials said.
The $1.3-million Cal National Gold Rush X is slated for April 25, the first Saturday of the meet.
Hollywood Park officials announced several years ago their plans to close the track and sell it to developers. There has been speculation 2009 could be the last year of racing, but comments by Panza on the stakes schedule suggest otherwise.
He said officials would review the graded stakes dropped from this year’s schedule for 2010, an indication the track plans to race.
“For this year, only, they are discontinued,” Panza said. “Under the guidelines of the graded stakes committee, as long as we run them again next year, we’re allowed to keep the grades. It would probably be our intent to re-establish those races, but we will have to wait and see if the economy improves.”
View the complete Hollywoood Park 2009 Spring/Summer Stakes Schedule.