The Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I), one of the nation's premier races since Seabiscuit won the inaugural running in 1938, will be returned to its handicap status for the 66th running on July 9.The $750,000 Gold Cup, at 1 1/4 miles, has been run under weight-for-age conditions since 1997. "Through the combined efforts of the Thoroughbred Owners of California and Hollywood Park, the Gold Cup has been returned to handicap status," racing secretary Martin Panza said. "The race has a rich tradition and we're hopeful reverting to its roots as a handicap will make it more appealing nationally."The Gold Cup, won by three horses en route to Horse of the Year honors in the 1990s and eight times overall, will be carded along with the $400,000-added Swaps Breeders' Cup Stakes (gr. II) and the $150,000 A Gleam Invitational Handicap (gr. II).The 64-day meet opens April 22 and concludes with the $150,000-added Sunset Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IIT) on July 17.Hollywood Park's $9.46 million stakes schedule includes several multiple graded stakes days, headed by the American Oaks (gr. IT) card on July 3. The program features five graded races -- all invitational events -- with purses of $1.85 million. Three grade I races -- the $750,000 American Oaks (presented by American Airlines), the $350,000 Triple Bend Handicap, and the $300,000 Vanity Handicap -- will be carded along with the $250,000 American Handicap (gr. IIT) and the $200,000 Royal Heroine Stakes. (gr. IIIT) that day. The American and Royal Heroine were each increased by $100,000, while the Triple Bend and Vanity purses were increased by $50,000."The American Oaks gained grade I status a year ago at first opportunity and has quickly become a fixture internationally," Panza said. "With four additional graded stakes -- all invitationals -- we've strengthened the Oaks Day program as we strive to give fans a 'championship-type' day of racing."
The sixth annual Cal National Gold Rush, featuring $1.3 million in stakes races for California-breds, is scheduled for April 24. Richest event on the ten-race program is the $250,000 Cal National Snow Chief Stakes.The first of Hollywood Park's multiple graded stakes programs, featuring the $350,000 Jim Murray Memorial Handicap (gr. IIIT), is slated for May 14, the week between the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes (both gr.I).The 16th running of the Jim Murray Memorial Handicap will also mark the conclusion of the third annual Los Angeles Times Sports Journalism Workshop, honoring the late Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist. Several of the nation's top journalism students will cover the day's races, which also include the $150,000 Mervyn LeRoy Handicap (gr. II) and the $150,000 Los Angeles Times Handicap (gr. III).The 2005 Spring/Summer stakes calendar includes 32 graded races. There are seven grade I races, 12 grade IIs and 13 grade IIIs.