08/06/2010 2:20PM

California Cup purses reduced, stakes eliminated


Purses have been reduced and a stakes eliminated on the California Cup program at Santa Anita on Oct. 30, according to the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association and the Oak Tree Racing Association.

Purses for four stakes have been reduced from $25,000 to $50,000 each. The most significant purse cut occurred in the Classic, which has been cut from $200,000 to $150,000. The Mile, on turf, has been cut from $125,000 to $100,000, while the Juvenile and Juvenile Fillies have been reduced from $100,000 to $75,000. In addition, the distances of the juvenile races have been lengthened from seven furlongs in 2009 to 1 1/16 miles this year.

The $75,000 Distance Handicap for fillies and mares over 1 1/4 miles on turf and two $50,000 starter handicaps have been dropped. They will be replaced by three maiden special weight races: two six-furlong races, one for 2-year-olds and one for 2-year-old fillies, and a race for 3-year-olds and up over about 6 1/2 furlongs on the hillside turf course.

Doug Burge, the general manager of the breeders’ group, said the Distance Handicap was expendable because it competed for horses with the Matron, which is run over 1 1/16 miles for fillies and mares on the main track.

“It was somewhat competing with the Matron, even though one is on the turf and one on the dirt,” he said. “We seemed to struggle with that race.”

The purse cuts were a result of an overpayment from recent runnings of the Cal Cup, Burge said.

“We’re trying to have the day pay for itself,” Burge said. “That’s the main reason for the purse decrease.”

Burge said the purses for the maiden races may be increased from $40,000 to $50,000, following recent discussions with Thoroughbred Owners of California. If the maiden races are increased to $50,000, total purses for the day will be worth $850,000 compared to $966,000 last year. The 2009 program also included a $16,000 starter allowance race over 1 1/8 miles on turf.

Burge said prize money for the Cal Cup is derived from handle generated on race day and money from the breeders’ association’s race fund.

“Given what we expect to be generated in purses and what the race fund can allocate, we feel at $850,000, we’d be in good shape,” he said.

Burge said one selling point for the maiden races is a $20,000 bonus available to statebreds that win maiden special weight races, a program that was enacted last fall. The bonus is paid in addition to the purse of a race.

“The bonus program is really stimulating people to run in maiden special weight races,” he said. “Given that and that we needed to replace races that we’ve had a hard time with in the past, we elected to write the three maiden races.”