02/13/2017 1:59PM

Churchill Downs to host Arlington's Matron, Chicago Handicap this year

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Barbara D. Livingston
This year, Churchill Downs will host a pair of stakes formerly run at Arlington Park - the Matron and the Chicago Handicap.

Two stakes that were previously run at Arlington Park outside of Chicago will be run instead at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., this year, according to a stakes schedule for Churchill’s spring meet that was released Monday by the parent company of both tracks, Churchill Downs Inc.

The two stakes, the Matron and the Chicago Handicap, were cut by Arlington this year in an effort to push more purse money into the track’s overnight races. The $100,000 Matron, which has been run for 79 years, will be run at Churchill on May 20, while the $100,000 Chicago will be run June 24.

“We’re very happy to add a pair of stakes events from Arlington Park that would otherwise have gone on hiatus at our sister track,” Ben Huffman, Churchill’s racing secretary, said in a release.

In total, Churchill will run 34 stakes races at the 38-day spring meet, highlighted by the $2 million Kentucky Derby on May 6, a card that will feature six other stakes races. Kentucky Derby Day draws the highest handle of any single-day race event in North America.

Stakes purses distributed during the meet will total $8.84 million, Churchill said. Last year, Churchill ran 32 stakes worth $8.25 million.

The Kentucky Oaks program on May 5 will include a total of six stakes, while the Stephen Foster Handicap program on the night of June 17 will include five stakes, according to the schedule. The closing-day card on the night of June 30 will feature three stakes.