05/08/2002 12:00AM

Canadian Derby is meet's gem


TORONTO, Ontario - Headed by the Grade 3 Canadian Derby on Aug. 24, a 32-race stakes schedule worth a record $1,625,000 will be offered at Northlands Park in Edmonton, Alberta, this year.

The total stakes money available over the 68-day meeting, which runs from June 21 through Oct. 19, represents an increase of almost 18 percent over last year's stakes program.

Alan Bott, racing secretary at Northlands, said revenues from the province's slot machine program provided the money for the stakes increases.

"All our $30,000-addeds have gone to $40,000-guaranteed," noted Bott, "and we had a couple of stakes that were $35,000-guaranteed that have gone to $40,000-guaranteed, too."

The purses for three races - the Sonoma, Edmonton Distaff, and Canadian Juvenile - have been upped by $25,000, to $75,000.

And there will one new stakes, the Oct. 12 Freedom of the City, a one-mile race for 2-year-old fillies.

"We're trying to give the open 2-year-old fillies someplace to run a mile in the fall," said Bott. "All we ever did before for them was to run an allowance race worth about $20,000."

The Canadian Derby, at $150,000, is the richest race on the schedule as usual, and is now the only graded stakes at the meeting because the Speed to Spare lost its Grade 3 status.