(Edited press release)
The Illinois Racing Board Dec. 10 released its 2009 stakes schedule. The staple of the spring meet, the $500,000 Illinois Derby (gr. II) will run April 4. The last seven winners of the Illinois Derby have run in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), starting with War Emblem, who won both events in 2002.
The Sixty Sails Handicap, a grade III stakes for fillies and mares will be contested April 18, and Illinois Champions Day, complete with six $100,000 stakes races, will be held April 25.
The $200,000 Bill Hartack Memorial, named after the Hall of Fame jockey who rode five Kentucky Derby winners, had its inaugural run in the spring, but will be moved to Nov. 21.
The fall meet still features the $500,000 Hawthorne Gold Cup (gr. II), held this year Oct. 3, as well as a pair of grade III races: the Robert F. Carey Memorial Handicap and Hawthorne Derby. The Illinois Festival of Racing will take place Oct. 31.
Throughout both meets, any Saturday that is not represented by a nominated stakes race, will offer an overnight stake worth $60,000.