With New BC Race, Miller Lite Cradle Moves to Turf

Edited press release

The addition of a Breeders’ Cup turf event for 2-year-olds has led River Downs to move its 31-year-old Miller Lite Cradle Stakes, the longest continuously sponsored Thoroughbred stakes in North America and the first major two-turn test for juveniles, from the dirt to the turf. 

The $200,000 Cradle at 1 1/16 miles as usual will be held Labor Day, which this year is Sept. 3, at the Ohio racetrack. The 2007 meet at River Downs begins April 6.

“When the Breeders’ Cup announced the creation of the $1-million Juvenile Turf, we looked at our race as an opportunity to become a major prep race,” River Downs publicist John Engelhardt said. “The chance to test a 2-year-old on the turf at a distance will be few and far between, and only one other race in North America will offer a $200,000 purse on the grass prior to the Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf.

“The Miller Lite Cradle has always attracted top horseman from around the country, and this element should appeal to even more. The European runners have many more opportunities to test their skills on the turf, and this should benefit the American-based outfits to see if their youngsters have ability on the greensward.”

The Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf is a one-mile event on grass open to 2-year-old colts, geldings, and fillies. The inaugural running will take place Oct. 26 at Monmouth Park.

“We’ll offer the horseman a chance to test their horses’ fondness for grass racing in the one-mile Cradle Prep Aug. 11,” River Downs racing secretary Ed Vomacka said. “With the switch to the turf and the new Breeders’ Cup race, we may see some horsemen that have never put our race on their radar before. It has a lot of new potential.”

Nationally recognized stables such as Claiborne Farm, Overbrook Farm, Pin Oak Farm, and Kinsman Stable have the Cradle, which gained credibility as a springboard for promising runners in 1984 when an unknown colt named Spend a Buck dominated the field and went on to win the 1985 Kentucky Derby (gr. I).

River Downs also announced the $100,000 Bassinet Stakes for 2-year-old fillies at six furlongs Sept. 1 will have a new sponsor in Coca-Cola. Previously, the race was sponsored by Pepsi.

The 2000 Bassinet was won by Caressing, who went on to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) that year and was named champion 2-year-old filly.