04/17/2006 12:00AM

$250K race at Fairmount

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Fairmount Park in downstate Illinois will run a $250,000 3-year-old stakes race, dubbed the St. Louis Derby, on Aug. 26, the track announced last week.

Purse money for the 1 1/16-mile race, the richest in Fairmount's 81-year history, will be privately generated. Jeff Cooper, a prominent Fairmount owner who operates the Circle C Stables, will fund the race with the help of other sponsors. Circle C sponsored a night of several stakes races last summer at Fairmount.

"Given the track's current financial circumstances, we would never be able to host a race of this magnitude," said Brian Zander, the track's president. "We hope to create what will become the marquee event of Fairmount's racing season."

Fairmount used to host an annual derby, the Fairmount Derby, but that race last was contested in 1994.