More than $600,000 that became available through pari-mutuel legislation will be used to fund 26 stakes for Florida-breds at Calder Race Course through the end of the year. The Florida Thoroughbred Breeders' and Owners' Association, the Florida Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, and the racetrack announced the schedule June 21.
During the current Calder meet, there will be six $50,000 stakes for Florida-breds, and 14 $40,000 stakes in which Florida-breds will be preferred. During the Tropical Park meet this fall, there will be six $50,000 stakes in which Florida-breds will be preferred.
Traditionally, Florida-breds race in open company and are rewarded financially through the FTBOA program.
The stakes are designed to beef up Calder's overnight program. Some owners and trainers have complained that purses for some classes aren't comparable to those at other top tracks in the country. Calder already had committed an additional $400,000 to overnight purses as a result of the legislation.
“We think that between the money we're putting back in the program, and the money Calder's putting in it, we should be able to move the overnight program up a notch,” said Dick Hancock, executive vice president of the FTBOA.
Hancock and Calder racing secretary Bob Umphrey said the 20 Florida-bred preferred races will pay FTBOA funds to the first three eligible Florida-breds by order of finish. For example, if the first two finishers in a stakes aren't state-breds, but the third-place finisher is, that horse would receive the first-place FTBOA bonus, and so on down the line.
Hancock said the program is in effect for this year only, and that it could be tweaked in the future.
In other Florida news, 888 2-year-olds are eligible for the Florida Stallion Stakes series at Calder.The number is up from 797 last year, and the highest since 1988, when 912 were nominated.
The Florida Stallion Stakes features six races worth $1.2 million.