Calder Race Course has announced a new event -- the "Turf Million" -- to be held April 26, the first Saturday of the 2008 season at Calder. Four turf stakes totaling $1.15 million will be contested over the grass, including the Calder Derby (gr. IIIT), whose purse has been doubled to $400,000. The Calder Derby will also be the first half of a new national wager, the “Calder Derby/Kentucky Derby Double.”
In addition to the Calder Derby, the Turf Million features the $250,000 Bob Umphrey Turf Sprint Handicap, the $200,000 Calder Oaks, and the new $300,000 Mairzy Doates Handicap, a 1 3/8 miles turf contest for fillies and mares 3 years old and upward.
The Calder Derby and Calder Oaks had previously been held on the Festival of the Sun card in October, while the Bob Umphrey Turf Sprint was run on the Summit of Speed program in July.
“By holding these significant races on the first Saturday of our Calder Meet, we expect to attract horses still in South Florida from the winter season,” said Calder president Ken Dunn. “With the large purses, we also anticipate heavy interest from horsemen all over the country.”
The Calder Derby is a race with a history as long as the track itself but was first run on grass in 1998. Since then, the race has been won by good turf horses such as Crowd Pleaser (1998), Union Place (2002, with Miesque’s Approval second), Stroll (2003), Eddington (2004), Can’t Beat It (2006), and Soldier’s Dancer (2007).
“We are confident that we can build on the quality of the Calder Derby by holding it on this new marquee day,” added racing secretary Mike Anifantis. “Also, the Turf Million is a great opportunity for horsemen with grass horses in various divisions. Our stakes that day range from five furlongs for the open division (Bob Umphrey Turf Sprint) to the new mile and three-eighths for fillies and mares (Mairzy Doates Handicap).”
Another interesting element of the Turf Million will be the “Calder Derby/Kentucky Derby Double” wager. Bettors will be challenged to pick the winner of the Calder Derby April 26 and the winner of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), to be run one week later May 3 at Churchill Downs. The $2 minimum wager must be placed prior to the Calder Derby.
The inaugural Turf Million will also feature two special guests, retired Hall of Fame jockeys Pat Day and Chris McCarron, who will be available for autographs early in the afternoon and will offer their expert opinions on the day’s stakes races from the paddock.
For horsemen, the closing date for nominations for the Turf Million stakes races is April 16.