02/03/2017 6:42PM

Arlington's 2017 stakes schedule features 20 races worth $3.4 million

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Arlington International Racecourse’s 2017 stakes schedule will consist of 20 races worth a total of $3.4 million, according to a Friday news release.

Arlington’s stakes schedule during 2016 originally consisted of 25 races worth $4.35 million, but three races were canceled and the purses of two other stakes reduced after handle during May failed to meet projections. Arlington wound up running 22 stakes worth just less than $4 million last year.

Illinois is one of the few remaining racing jurisdictions in North America that pays purses solely through revenue generated by handle.

Purses during the 2016 season at Arlington and at Hawthorne were the lowest of the circuit’s modern era, and Arlington has pledged to increase 2017 overnight purses. Part of that, it appears, will come at the expense of the stakes schedule.

Stakes races run during 2016 gone from the 2017 schedule include the Grade 3, $100,000 Matron and the Grade 3, $100,000 Chicago Handicap. The Grade 3 Washington Park, the Grade 3 Arlington Oaks, and the $75,000 Chicago Sprint were trimmed from the stakes schedule during the 2016 meet.

The purse of the Grade 1 Beverly D. on the Arlington Million card – which is Aug. 12 this year – has been cut from $700,000 to $600,000. The American St. Leger’s purse has been reduced to $250,000 from $350,000 last year, and all four races on Million Preview Day, July 8, are worth only $100,000 this year.