Churchill Downs Stakes Schedule Features Record Purses, Five New Races

Edited from a Churchill Downs release

The 130th Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) highlight a 2004 stakes schedule at Churchill Downs that includes five new races and record total stakes purses that will soar beyond the $9 million mark for the first time.

The 2004 stakes schedule at Churchill Downs consists of 45 races--33 in the spring meet and 12 in the fall racing session--with purses totaling a record $9.375 million. The 2003 stakes schedule included 41 events with total purses of $8.575 million. Stakes purses for the 2004 spring meet will total $7.025 million, up from the $6.375 million offered in the spring of 2003, and purses for the dozen fall events will climb to $2.35 million, up from the $2.2 million total for the 2003 "Fall Festival Of Racing."

New events added to the track's stakes schedule for 2004 include four spring races and one in the fall. Added to the spring meet schedule are the:

* $100,000 Alysheba for 3-year-olds & up, a 1 1/16-mile race set for Kentucky Oaks Day, April 30
* $100,000-added Open Mind, a five furlong turf sprint for 3-year-old fillies on May 15
* $100,000-added Winning Colors, for fillies and mares 3 & up at six furlongs on May 22
* $100,000-added Opening Verse Handicap, a 1 1/16-mile turf race for 3-year-olds set for "Stephen Foster Super Saturday" on June 12.

The fall meet addition is the $150,000-added Commonwealth Turf on Nov. 14, 1 1/16-mile turf race for 3-year-olds.

Several races will undergo changes in distance or purses in 2004.
They include:

* The Humana Distaff (gr. I) purse will rise by $50,000 to $250,000-added.
* The Northern Dancer, which has been elevated to grade III status, will double its purse to $200,000-added and increase its distance from a mile to 1 1/16-miles.
* The purse for the Fleur de Lis (gr. II) for fillies and mares 3 & up, another fixture on "Super Saturday," will increase by $100,000 to a record $400,000-added.
* The $100,000-added La Troienne (gr. III), a Kentucky Derby Week fixture for 3-year-old fillies, will be extended by a sixteenth of a mile to 7 1/2 furlongs.
* The Aristides Breeders' Cup (gr. III) will carry a purse of $150,000-added, which includes a $50,000 supplement from the Breeders' Cup Stakes Program, and will have its distance reduced from 6 1/2 furlongs to six furlongs.
* A $50,000 Breeders' Cup Stakes purse supplement will raise the value of the Dogwood Breeders' Cup (gr. III) for 3-year-old fillies to $150,000-added.
* The $100,000-added Edgewood, for 3-year-old fillies on turf, will increase its distance by a half-furlong to a mile and a sixteenth.
* The Derby Trial (gr. III), the opening day feature of the Spring Meet, will restore its purse to $100,000-added. The purse for the one mile race for 3-year-olds had been increased to $150,000-added for its 2003 renewal.
* The purse for the Kentucky Breeders' Cup (gr. III) was reduced by $25,000 to $125,000-added, which includes a $50,000 Breeders' Cup Stakes supplement.

Thirty-five of the stakes races scheduled for 2004 at the historic track are graded events, a number that includes 25 graded races in the spring and 10 during the fall meet. The overall schedule includes five grade I events, 10 grade II races, and 20 stakes races recognized with grade III status by the North American Graded Stakes Committee.

"We strive each year to continue to build and strengthen our stakes program at Churchill Downs and we're excited by the growth reflected in our 2004 schedule," said Don Richardson, senior vice president of racing for Churchill Downs Inc. "Horsemen from across North America continued their strong support of the Churchill Downs stakes program in 2003 and we hope the exciting new options available in 2004 will attract even more top horses and stables to compete under the historic Twin Spires."

"We worked hard to fill in some gaps in our stakes roster and we believe that our 2004 schedule truly offers opportunities for all horsemen and virtually every kind of horse to come to Churchill Downs and compete against top company," said Doug Bredar, the Churchill Downs racing secretary. "We have scheduled what should be some truly spectacular days of multiple stakes competition, we've worked to refine the distances and spacing of races within a single division of horses, and we've added some exciting new races to our schedule that will increase the stakes options available to our horsemen. Prime examples would be the Winning Colors, which fills a gap in sprint races for older fillies and mares, and the Commonwealth Turf in the fall meet offers a final chance for 3-year-old turf horses in the East to compete in a stake race against their age group."

The 2004 stakes schedule includes four special events that include multiple stakes races held on a single day or weekend. They include:

* Kentucky Oaks Day, April 30--The $500,000 "Derby for Fillies" heads a slate of six Oaks Day stakes races with total purses of $1.2 million. The day also includes the $300,000-added Louisville Breeders' Cup (gr. II), $100,000-added Crown Royal American Turf (gr. IIIT), $100,000 Edgewood, $100,000 Aegon Turf Sprint, and the $100,000 Alysheba.
* Kentucky Derby Day, May 1--The $1 million-guaranteed "Run for the Roses" is one of three grade I events among six Derby Day stakes races with total purses of $2.05 million. The day also includes the $400,000-added Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (gr. IT); the $250,000-added Humana Distaff (gr. I); the $200,000-added Churchill Downs Handicap (gr. II); the $100,000 Argent Mortgage Distaff Turf Mile (gr. IIIT); and $100,000-added Three Chimneys Juvenile.
* "Stephen Foster Super Saturday," June 12--The $750,000-added Stephen Foster Handicap, a grade I event and one of America's top races for older horses, tops an expanded menu of six "Super Saturday" stakes races with a record $1.85 million in total purses. The day will again include the Fleur de Lis (gr. II), the $200,000-added Regret (gr. III) and the Northern Dancer and additions to the card include the $200,000-added Jefferson Cup (gr. III) and the new Opening Verse.
* "The Big Four Weekend," Nov. 25-27--The $500,000-added Clark Handicap (gr. II) on Nov. 26 heads a collection of four major stakes races with total purses of $1.2 million scheduled for the three-day Thanksgiving holiday weekend at Churchill Downs. The "Big Four" kicks off with the $300,000-added Falls City Handicap (gr. II) for older fillies and mares on Nov. 25 and closes on Nov. 27 with Churchill Downs' major fall races for 2-year-olds: the $200,000 Kentucky Jockey Club (gr. II) and the $200,000 Golden Rod (gr. II) for 2-year-old fillies.