2009 BC Stakes Program Still in Works

Breeders' Cup is continues to formulate its 2009 stakes program.

Breeders’ Cup officials, who announced Dec. 11 they were suspending the Breeders’ Cup stakes program and a week later decided to fund the program using money from the organization’s reserve account, have yet to approve which races will receive the added money.

“There have been some discussions about the makeup of the stakes program for 2009, and we hope to have an announcement about that sometime this month,” Breeders’ Cup spokesman Jim Gluckson said Jan. 13.

As of Jan. 13, the only racetracks to confirm Breeders’ Cup stakes on their schedules were Arlington Park in Illinois and Canterbury Park in Minnesota. Arlington’s Breeders’ Cup races are the July 4 Chicago Handicap (gr. III), July 18 Arlington Oaks (gr. III), and Sept. 18 Arlington-Washington Lassie (gr. III), all of which will receive $50,000 in Breeders’ Cup funds, according to a stakes schedule. Canterbury’s sole Breeders’ Cup race is the July 25 Lady Canterbury Stakes, which will be supplemented with $50,000 from the Breeders’ Cup.

Gulfstream Park, Oaklawn Park, Tampa Bay Downs, and Santa Anita Park, which all run winter meets, devised 2009 stakes schedules that included their usual Breeders’ Cup stakes allotments under the assumption they would again receive the funds. Those races are all still pending official approval, however.

Entries for the Jan 17 San Fernando Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita closed Jan. 8. Twenty-five older males were nominated to the $150,000 race, which is supposed to include $75,000 from the Breeders’ Cup stakes program. Santa Anita confirmed Jan. 14 that the Breeders' Cup had agreed to supply the extra funds.

Breeders’ Cup originally decided to discontinue its stakes program because it projected a reduction in overall Breeders’ Cup revenue of more than $10 million in 2009 due to the global economic downturn and a likely shortfall in nominations revenue.

The 2008 Breeders’ Cup stakes program featured 100 races and allocated $5 million to supplement stakes in the United States and Canada. For the past 13 years, Breeders’ Cup and 40 racetracks and racing associations have participated jointly in the program, which provides additional purse money to Breeders’ Cup-nominated horses.

On Dec. 16, Breeders’ Cup reversed its decision to suspend funding for the stakes program after an immediate response from many breeders who criticized the move. However, Breeders’ Cup chairman Bill Farish told The Blood-Horse Dec. 17 there is no guarantee the organization could take money out of the reserve fund in the future.