01/25/2013 2:13PM

California Cup moved to early 2014 as part of revamped Golden State series


The California Cup will not be run in 2013, but will be moved to a date in January or early February at Santa Anita in 2014 as part of a revamped Golden State series for California-breds over the next 12 months.

The California Thoroughbred Breeders Association released its 2013-2014 Golden State series schedule on Thursday, and the revised date for the Cal Cup is the most significant of several changes.

Formed in 1990, the California Cup has been run each fall since its inception. The move to a mid-winter date is designed to boost an event that had struggled in recent years to draw attendance and handle support.

The new Cal Cup program will feature a $250,000 Cal Cup Classic, worth $75,000 more than in 2012. The race has been switched from turf to dirt, while the distance remains 1 1/8 miles. Instead of the previously run Juvenile and Juvenile Fillies, the races for the foals of 2011 in 2014 will be a Derby and Oaks. The purses remain the same, at $250,000.

Four other races are scheduled to be run on the proposed program: the $125,000 Distaff for fillies and mares over about 6 1/2 furlongs on the hillside turf course; the $100,000 Sprint over six furlongs on dirt; the $100,000 Valentine Dancer Stakes for females over a mile on turf; and the $100,000 Crystal Water Stakes over a mile on turf.

The Sunshine Millions was run on Saturday at Santa Anita, consisting of four stakes for California-breds: two $300,000 divisions of the California Breeders’ Champion Stakes as well as the Valentine Dancer and Crystal Water Stakes.

There were also two graded stakes: the Grade 2 $250,000 Santa Monica Stakes for female sprinters and the Grade 3 $100,000 Santa Ysabel Stakes for 3-year-old fillies.

The move to a January or February date is designed to revive the event, according to organizers.

“We wanted to merge the Sunshine Millions with the Cal Cup races and offer more what we used to offer of just stakes on Cal Cup Day,” said Doug Burge, the executive director of the CTBA.

“The Cal Cup has suffered in the fall from an attendance and handle standpoint. We wanted to find a way to revitalize that.”

The Golden State series was launched in 2012, featuring 27 races, primarily for 2 and 3-year-olds, between February 2012 and Saturday’s program at Santa Anita. The calendar of Golden State series races for 2013 and the first two months of 2014 features 33 races.

The new races include five stakes for older horses that were on the racing calendar in 2012 or early this year, but were not part of the Golden State program. Three of those races—the Fran’s Valentine Stakes for fillies and mares at Betfair Hollywood Park in May, and the On Trust Handicap and Cat’s Cradle Handicap (for female sprinters) at Hollywood Park in the fall—have had their purses enhanced from $75,000 to $100,000.

The Valentine Dancer and Crystal Water are part of the Golden State series for the first time in early 2014. The newly created race is the $100,000 California Flag on the hillside turf course at Santa Anita in the fall.

Two turf races at Del Mar have had purses increased by $50,000, to $150,000: the California Dreamin’ and the Solana Beach for fillies and mares. The Melair Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Hollywood Park in April has been cut by $50,000, to $250,000.