03/18/2015 3:25PM

Arlington trims stakes schedule

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Arlington International released a pared-down 2015 stakes schedule Tuesday, but the International Festival of Racing, headlined by the Arlington Million, is still intact.

Arlington hosted 25 stakes worth about $5.5 million in 2014, but the schedule this year includes only 18 stakes worth about $3.5 million, of which five races worth $2,750,000 will be run on the same day, Aug. 15, Arlington Million Day. Three Grade 1 stakes will be run that day: The Million, the $750,000 Beverly D., and the $500,000 Secretariat.

Except for the heart of its meet in July and August when it will race four days per week, Arlington plans on racing only three-day weeks this summer. The reduced schedule and the stakes cuts were deemed necessary due to difficult economic circumstances in Illinois racing. Money generated for purses by a state-imposed impact fee levied against some Illinois casinos ran out in 2014, and for the first time in several years, Arlington must pay purses derived strictly from betting handle.

Eliminated from the 2015 stakes calendar are five $150,000 races run last year: the Arlington Classic, Arlington Matron, Chicago Handicap, Arlington Oaks, and Washington Park Handicap. Also gone is the $100,000 Arlington Sprint.

The four stakes set for Million Preview Day, July 11, all were trimmed by $50,000, while the Pucker Up, moved up on the calendar to be part of Million Day, was cut from $175,000 to $100,000. The Arlington-Washington Futurity is now a $100,000 race, down $50,000 from 2014, and the Arlington-Washington Lassie, $100,000 last year, is worth $75,000.

The Hanshin Cup, in recent history contested during May as the first stakes of the meet, has been moved to July 18. Arlington’s meet begins May 1, but the first stakes of the season will not be run until July 4, and that race is merely a $75,000 Illinois-bred stakes.

Still on the schedule is the $400,000 American St. Leger, a Million Day race over 1 11/16 miles created in 2012 mainly to attract European horses more accustomed to running a true marathon distance on turf. Local horsemen have publicly questioned the wisdom of allocating such a sum to a niche category in the face of declining purses.

Arlington renamed one of its Illinois-bred stakes the Mike Spellman Memorial to honor the turf writer for the local Daily Herald who died unexpectedly this year.

2015 Arlington International stakes schedule

Date Race Conditions Distance Purse
Sat., July 4 Purple Violet Stakes 3YO Fillies* 1M $75,000
Sat., July 11 American Derby (G3) 3YO 1 1/8M (T) $150,000
Sat., July 11 Modesty Handicap (G3) 3YO & UP F&M 1 3/16M (T) $150,000
Sat., July 11 Stars & Stripes (G3) 3YO & UP 1 1/2M (T) $100,000
Sat., July 18 Hanshin Cup (G3) 3YO & UP 1M $100,000
Sat., July 25 Springfield Stakes  3YO* 1M $75,000
Sat., Aug. 1 Isaac Murphy Handicap 3YO & UP F&M* 6F $75,000
Sat., Aug. 1 Addison Cammack Handicap 3YO & UP* 6F $75,000
Sat., Aug. 8 Mike Spellman Memorial Handicap 3YO & UP F&M 1 1/16M (T) $75,000
Sat., Aug. 8 Black Tie Affair Handicap 3YO & UP* 1 1/16M (T) $75,000
Sat., Aug. 15 Pucker Up Stakes (G3) 3YO Fillies 1 1/8M (T) $100,000
Sat., Aug. 15 American St. Leger (G3) 3YO & UP 1 11/16M (T) $400,000
Sat., Aug. 15 Secretariat Stakes (G1) 3YO 1 1/4M (T) $500,000
Sat., Aug. 15 Beverly D. (G1) 3YO & UP F&M 1 3/16M (T) $750,000
Sat., Aug. 15 Arlington Million XXXIII (G1) 3YO & UP 1 1/4M (T) $1,000,000
Sat., Aug. 22 Arlington-Washington Futurity (G3) 2YO 7F $100,000
Sat., Aug. 29 Arlington-Washington Lassie (L) 2YO Fillies 7F $75,000

*Illinois-registered