09/03/2004 11:00PM

Arkansas Derby still worth $1M


Oaklawn enhanced its 3-year-old program last meet for the track's 100th anniversary, and Smarty Jones went on to sweep the series by winning the Southwest, Rebel and Arkansas Derby. He then went on to win the Kentucky Derby and earn a $5 million bonus from Oaklawn for winning the Rebel, Arkansas Derby and Kentucky Derby. That bonus will not return for 2005, but the Arkansas Derby purse will remain at the $1 million level.

The 1 1/8-mile race is the richest race on the track's $4.1 million stakes schedule. Oaklawn will open for a 55-date meet on Jan. 21, 2005, and purses are budgeted at a record daily average of $250,000.

The purse of the Rebel, for 3-year-olds at one mile, last year was boosted from $125,000 to $200,000. Its purse has been increased again this year to $250,000.

The Racing Festival of the South will begin on April 9 with two $500,000 stakes, the Apple Blossom and the Oaklawn Handicap. The Festival will wrap up with the Arkansas Derby, to be held on closing day April 16.