Hollywood Park has released a dramatically altered stakes schedule for the 2009 Autumn meet, which will be 27 days long — 13 days shorter than the 40-day stand in 2008.
Among the most significant changes is the suspension of five stakes — Hollywood Turf Cup (gr. IT), Dahlia Handicap (gr. IIT), Hollywood Turf Express (gr. IIIT), Real Quiet Stakes, and Sharp Cat Stakes — and reductions in purses for other stakes, including three grade I races that are part of the track’s Turf Festival.
Those three grade I races are the Hollywood Derby and the Matriarch, each of which have been reduced by $200,000 and will carry purses of $300,000, and the Citation Handicap, which has been lowered by $100,000 also to $300,000.
The meet begins Nov. 13 and concludes Dec. 20. With 14 stakes races with purses of $2.85 million, the meet will highlighted by the $750,000 CashCall Futurity (gr. I) on Dec. 19.
Martin Panza, vice president of racing, said stakes were suspended for this year in an effort to sustain overnight purses.
"We will have the same overnight purse structure as Oak Tree (at Santa Annita)," said Panza. "This is a one-year suspension. Hopefully, with more days at future meets, we will bring some of these races back. Our goal was to protect the overnight schedule as everyone is feeling the pressure in the difficult times the country is experiencing."
The Turf Festival will once again share the spotlight with the Futurity and $300,000 guaranteed Hollywood Starlet (gr. I). The Turf Festival, which will be staged for the 18th time in 19 years over Thanksgiving Weekend.
A change in the Turf Festival format has the Matriarch scheduled along with the $100,000 Generous Stakes (gr. IIIT) on Saturday, Nov. 28, while the Hollywood Derby and $100,000 Miesque Stakes (gr. IIIT) will be run on Sunday, Nov. 29. Previously the Derby and Matriarch were run on closing day of the Turf Festival.
The Autumn meet stakes schedule, which includes 11 graded races, begins with the $75,000-added On Trust Handicap on Saturday, Nov. 14.