01/24/2012 4:43PM

Arlington Park: Casino windfall boosts stakes schedule; new $400K race added

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The release of about $140 million in casino impact fees to the Illinois racing industry late last summer has boosted the Arlington Park 2012 stakes schedule, with Arlington hoping to run four more stakes than it did in 2011 while offering stakes purses worth $5.8 million, $1,325,000 more than the track paid during its 2011 season.

Arlington released a proposed 2012 stakes schedule Tuesday that won’t be finalized until the Illinois Racing Board gives its approval. The schedule will be considered at the IRB’s meeting on Jan. 31.

From that $140 million impact-fee total, Arlington received $25.9  million in purse money, a significant chunk of which will be directed to stakes purses. Arlington plans to run 26 stakes in 2012, including a rich new race, the $400,000 Arlington St. Leger. The Arlington St. Leger would be part of Arlington Million Day, which is scheduled for Aug. 18 this year, and would be open to horses at least 3 years old and contested at 1 11/16 miles (just less than one and three-quarters miles) on turf. The St. Leger is a famous distance race run in various international jurisdictions, most prominently England and Ireland.

Arlington also plans to raise the purse of the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes from $400,000 to $500,000, one of 18 stakes that will offer larger purses than in 2011. The Secretariat received the biggest purse raise, while the purse for the Pucker Up, a 3-year-old filly grass race, was increased by $75,000. All the other increases are $25,000 or $50,000 per race.

Arlington also has returned the Grade 3, $150,000 Arlington Oaks to its schedule after a one-year absence. Also back on the schedule are a pair of $100,000 Illinois Owners Stakes that were run as overnight races in 2011.

Arlington did some minor shuffling in terms of calendar placement, with the Stars and Stripes Handicap undergoing the most noteworthy shift. That race now will be part of Million Preview Day (July 14 this year) and serve as a prep for the Arlington St. Leger.