Churchill Unveils Record Stakes Schedule for 2006

Edited release from Churchill Downs
Churchill Downs has unveiled a record $10.7 million stakes schedule for 2006 that, along with the $2 million guaranteed Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and $500,000-added Kentucky Oaks (gr. I), includes three new stakes races.

The track also tweaked Kentucky Derby Day and "Stephen Foster Super Saturday" racing cards that now include six graded stakes events, and the addition of a second "Stars of Tomorrow" day in the fall meet devoted exclusively to races for 2-year-olds.

There are 47 stakes events scheduled for the 2006 spring and fall meets at Churchill and the $10.7 million in total stakes purses surpasses a record established last year when stakes purses rose to $10 million - the first time total Churchill Downs stakes purses had reached that level.

The April 29-July 16 spring meet at the Louisville, Ky., track will include 32 stakes races, 24 of which are graded events, with total purses of $7.8 million. The Oct. 29-Nov. 25 fall meet, in which the track will host the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships for a record sixth time on Nov. 4, has a stakes schedule made up of 15 races with total purses of $2.9 million.

Eleven of the 15 fall meet stakes events are graded races. The $500,000-added Clark Handicap has been elevated to grade I status and will be the track's first grade I race run in the fall.

Three new stakes events added to the schedule include the $250,000-added Cherokee Run Breeders' Cup, a five-furlong turf sprint for 3-year-olds and up set for Nov. 3, the day before the Breeders' Cup; the $200,000-added Very Subtle, a six-furlong race for fillies and mares ages 3 & up that will be one of two Churchill Downs races on the Breeders' Cup undercard; and the $100,000-added Pent Up Kiss, a five-furlong sprint on turf for fillies and mares ages 3 & up scheduled for Nov. 12.

The Cherokee Run Breeders' Cup and the Pent Up Kiss had previously been run as overnight handicaps. The purse for the former includes a supplement of $150,000 from the Breeders' Cup Stakes program.

Other changes in the Churchill Downs stakes scheduled in 2006 include:

--Adjustments in the roster of stakes races on the Kentucky Derby and "Stephen Foster Super Saturday" programs that place six graded stakes events on both days for the first time. The $100,000-added La Troienne (gr. III) for 3-year-old fillies moves from Thursday of Derby Week to the Derby Day card and replaces the Three Chimneys Juvenile, which has been dropped from the stakes schedule. The Early Times Mint Julep (gr. III) for fillies and mares 3 & up on turf moves to the "Stephen Foster Super Saturday" program June 17. It replaces the $100,000-added Opening Verse, which has been moved from the Foster program to June 3.

--The addition of a second "Stars of Tomorrow" program during the fall meet, with racing programs made up exclusively of 2-year-old races Oct. 29 and Nov. 25, the meet's opening and closing days. "Stars of Tomorrow I" will feature a pair of $100,000-added grade III stakes races, the Pocahontas for fillies and the Iroquois. The track's major fall races for 2-year-olds, the $200,000-added Golden Rod (gr. II) for fillies and the $200,000-added Kentucky Jockey Club (gr. II), highlight the "Stars of Tomorrow II" on the meet's final day.

--The creation of a new multiple stakes program June 3. That day will feature four events that include the $150,000-added Dogwood Breeders' Cup (gr. III) for 3-year-old fillies, which will be run at the new distance of one mile; the $150,000-added Aristides Breeders' Cup (gr. III) for 3-year-olds & up at six furlongs; the Opening Verse for 3-year-olds & up at 1 1/16-miles on turf; and the $70,000-added Texas Glitter overnight handicap for 3-year-olds & up at five furlongs on grass.

--A distance and purse change for the Ack Ack Handicap (gr. III), which has been extended from 7 1/2 furlongs to one mile and will see its purse doubled to $200,000-added. The Ack Ack, which most recently served as the fall meet opener, will be held this year on the Breeders' Cup undercard.

--The return of the Kentucky Breeders' Cup following a one-year hiatus. The grade III race for 2-year-olds has been moved to May 4 and will be run at a new distance of five furlongs for a purse of $150,000-added, an increase of $25,000 from its 2004 renewal. The purse includes $50,000 from the Breeders' Cup Stakes program.

--The scheduling of the spring meet's major races for 2-year-olds - the $150,000-added Bashford Manor (gr. III) and the $100,000-added Debutante (gr. III) for fillies July 8. The distance of the Debutante has been extended to six furlongs from its former distance of 5 1/2 furlongs.

"We strongly believe that our 2006 stakes schedule at Churchill Downs, from the perspective of both the horseman and the racing fan, is the strongest in the 132-year history of our track," said Doug Bredar, racing secretary of Churchill Downs.

"We have added new stakes races - all popular turf sprints - and two of our multiple stakes programs, Kentucky Derby Day and Stephen Foster Super Saturday, now consist of six stakes races that, for the first time, are all graded events. The revamped Ack Ack Handicap, with a new distance and purse, should become a major prep for the Clark Handicap. There is a new multiple stakes day on June 3 and we have scheduled a powerful roster of stakes events surrounding the anticipated return of the Breeders' Cup to Churchill Downs on Nov. 4.