American Oaks Purse to be $750,000 in '03

The purse for the American Oaks, the rich addition to Hollywood Park's 2002 spring/summer stakes schedule, will be boosted by $250,000 to $750,000 in 2003. The race will remain an invitational event.

Fourteen runners ran in the the inaugural Oaks, an event for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/4 miles on the turf. The initial running attracted fillies from Europe and across the U.S. with the race generating the highest mutuel pool of the meeting.

The American Oaks will be run on July 5 in 2003. It will be limited to 14 starters with graded/group stakes winners receiving preference. Invitees will be announced June 22.

"We are striving to develop the American Oaks into one of our premier events at the spring/summer meet along with the Hollywood Gold Cup," racing secretary Martin Panza said. "Our goal is to establish another international event in California, complementing the Turf Festival at our Autumn Meet.

"Getting 14 horses showed there is a need for this type of race," Panza said. "One more year and we will be eligible for graded status. Our hope is it will be granted grade I status. We were very happy with the 2002 running. The field consisted of several gifted fillies."