Factors Lead Philly Park to Shuffle Stakes Slate

Philadelphia Park will offer a $1.8-million stakes schedule this season with 10 fewer events than last year.

Philadelphia Park director of racing Sal Sinatra said the purse-supplement problems and the fact Philadelphia Park will host the 2002 Claiming Crown led the Bensalem, Pa., racetrack to make some changes. The track will run 13 stakes, topped by the $500,000 Pennsylvania Derby on Labor Day.

The Aug. 31 Claiming Crown will account for $550,000 in purses. Sinatra also said that because a "listed" stakes now must carry a purse of $75,000, up from $50,000, the decision was made to trim the stakes schedule rather than add money to them in light of the supplement problem.

Philly Park added a new stakes, the $100,000 Turf Monster at five furlongs on the grass, and renamed two others: the Bensalem Handicap is now the $100,000 Greenwood Cup, and the Critical Miss is now the $75,000 Kindergarten Stakes.

There will be 13 Pennsylvania-bred stakes on this year's calendar. Sinatra said that six of them will be run Oct. 5, which is the second annual "Pennsylvania's Day at the Races" presented by the Pennsylvania Horse Breeders' Association. It's also the day of the $250,000 Cotillion Handicap and the $150,000 Gallant Bob Handicap.

Hal Handel, chief executive officer at Philly Park, said he would have liked to have raised the purse of the Pennsylvania Derby this year, but couldn't proceed with those plans when the industry supplement was frozen.