Calder Announces 2006 Stakes Schedule; Mix of Old and New

Calder Race Course has announced its 2006 stakes schedules for the Calder and Tropical at Calder meets. Traditional events, such as the Summit of Speed and the Festival of the Sun, will again be held during the summer meet, but some exciting new concepts will also be introduced.

"The plans are in place, now we look forward to carrying them out," said Mike Anifantis, who was recently named racing secretary at Calder after the passing of Bob Umphrey earlier this year. "The foundation that Bobby set here over the years is solid and we'll build further upon it. Events like the Summit of Speed have already proven successful and now it's my job to see that the momentum continues. I have some special recruiting trips to California, Kentucky, and New York scheduled."

"Our traditional events are strong, but we must try some new things as well," added track president Ken Dunn. "We are going to do some creative things with our racing, scheduling, and marketing this year. They may seem a little unconventional to some, but we expect them to generate interest and create some urgency for our fans to get to Calder.

"We'll introduce two special race day events this summer during a period when we will race three days a week. Our marketing team can promote these weeks of long weekend racing with incentives. These are some things that have not been tried before, but we are optimistic."

The Calder meet will offer 45 stakes races worth $6,765,000 over the course of a 112-day meeting, a record amount for Calder, which will be presenting its 35th year of Thoroughbred horse racing in 2006. The Tropical meet, which is held in the fall, will feature 25 stakes races totaling $3,060,000 - also a record amount.

Highlighting the Calder meet will be the seventh running of the Summit of Speed (July 15), racing's richest day of sprints, featuring the grade I $500,000 Princess Rooney Handicap, grade II $500,000 Smile Sprint Handicap, grade II $300,000 Carry Back Stakes, and grade III $300,000 Azalea Breeders' Cup Stakes, and four other sprint stakes.
New on the Summit card in 2006 is the $100,000 Distaff Turf Sprint Handicap, the filly companion race to the Calder Turf Sprint Handicap.

The first four finishers in these races, as well as the first four in the Mamzelle Stakes and the grade III Aegon Turf Sprint at Churchill Downs in May, will receive free nomination, starting, and entry fees to two new stakes at Calder on a new event day this summer: the Turf Sprint Championship on Aug. 5.

The Turf Sprint Championship Handicap and the Distaff Turf Sprint Championship Handicap, the latter for fillies and mares 3-years-old and upward, will each be worth $250,000 and will be contested at five furlongs on the turf. These two races will join the first legs of the Florida Stallion Stakes (FSS) series to create an All Stakes Pick 4 wager.

This year, the Dr. Fager Division and the Desert Vixen Division of the FSS will each have a $100,000-estimated purse for the first time in the history of the program, up from $75,000. [The middle legs of the series - the Affirmed and the Susan's Girl on Sept. 2 - will also have higher estimated purses at $150,000 each (up from $125,000).] This year marks the 25th running of the Florida Stallion Stakes.

Also new at Calder this year will be the introduction of "Extreme Day at the Races" on July 22. Stakes to be run on this afternoon will carry an extreme theme, from the two-furlong Rocket Man Stakes for 2-year-olds and up to the new two-mile Bob Umphrey Turf Marathon, the longest distance stakes in the country and the richest at that, worth $250,000.

The Methuselah Handicap, a seven-furlong race for 6-year-olds and upward, takes things to yet another extreme. Track management is also working on some other "alternative" concepts for the inaugural Extreme Day, which will be announced at a date closer to the event.

Calder will again hold the Juvenile Showcase. The entire program - now in its fourth year - offers races exclusively for 2-year-olds, featuring the middle legs of the coveted Florida Stallion Stakes, on Sept. 2.

Calder's signature event, the Festival of the Sun, will be held Oct. 14 with much of the focus on the rich finales of the Florida Stallion Stakes, the $400,000 In Reality Division and the $400,000 My Dear Girl Division. Eight stakes races make up the afternoon of Thoroughbred sport and include the grade III Calder Derby and grade III Spend A Buck Handicap. This year marks the 15th running of the Festival of the Sun. Calder introduced a Festival of the Sun Preview Day in 2005 and will hold another one this year Sept. 23.